This article was written by John Rau, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor
As you start down the path of entrepreneurship to start your new business, you should heed the advice of those that “have been there and done that” successfully. Good examples of such individuals are Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group, which consists of more than 400 companies around the world, and author of six books) and Mark Cuban (co-founder of the Denver-based independent cable network HDNet , owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and perhaps better known as a regular on ABC’s reality series “Shark Tank”).
Entrepreneur magazine through its web site (www.entrepreneur.com) conducted interviews with these individuals and here is what they had to say:
Richard Branson says in his interview “Five Secrets to Business Success” (see: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217284 )
- If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You need to enjoy what you are doing because starting a business is a huge amount of work, requiring a great deal of time.
- You need to be innovative and create something different that will stand out. You’ve got to do something radically different to make a mark today.
- Businesses generally consist of a group of people, your employees, and they are your biggest assets. Happy employees make for happy customers.
- To be a good leader, you need to be a good listener. Get feedback from your staff and customers on a regular basis.
- You need to be visible. Market the company and its offers by putting yourself or a senior person in front of the cameras.
Mark Cuban says in his interview “Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules for Startups” (see: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222524):
- Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.
- If you have an exit strategy, it should not be an obsession.
- Hire people who you think will love working there.
- Sales cure all. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.
- Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.
- You don’t need an expresso machine and other in office employee perks.
- Consider having no offices as open offices keep everyone in tune with what is going on and also keep the energy up. There is nothing private in a startup!
- As far as technology, go with what you know as that is always the most inexpensive way.
- Keep the organization flat. If you have managers reporting to managers, you will fail. Once you get beyond startup, if you have managers reporting to managers, you will create politics.
- Never buy “swag”, that is, no logo-embroidered polo shirts or similar types of items for your customers when you are in the startup mode. Your money is better spent elsewhere.
- Never hire a Public Relations (PR) firm as you don’t need someone to sell you. Sell yourself directly to your potential customers. You don’t need an intermediary to do that.
- Make the job fun for your employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them.
Other good advice from Entrepreneur magazine as provided by billionaire investors (see: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238174) is as follows:
- Persist—don’t take no for an answer. If you’re happy to sit at your desk and not take any risk, you’ll be sitting at your desk for the next 20 years.” (Source: David Rubenstein—Net worth $3.1B. Co-founder of the Carlyle Group and investor in Dunkin’ Donuts, Oriental Trading Company, and Beats by Dre.)
- There must be high risk—in fact, very high risk. It’s the key to success. If there is no risk, you have already missed the boat. Your competitors will already be there.” (Source: Tom Perkins—Net worth $8B. Founder of Sequoia Capital and investor behind AOL, Amazon.com, Google, Verisign, WebMD and Zynga: )
- Live the present intensely and fully. Do not let the past be a burden and let the future be an incentive. Each person forges his or her own destiny.” (Source: Carlos Slim—Net worth $81.6B. Serial entrepreneur and investor in TracFone, New York Times and Philip Morris.)
- The older I get, the more I see a straight path where I want to go. If you’re going to hunt elephants, don’t get off the trail for a rabbit.” (Source: T. Boone Pickens—Net worth $1.4B. Founder of BP Capital Management and investor in Exxon, Halliburton and Valero.)
- Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.” (Source: Warren Buffet--Net worth $67B. Founder of Berkshire Hathaway and investor in American Express, Direct TV, Coca-Cola, IBM and Wells Fargo.)
- Since one fails often, address markets that make it worthwhile when one does succeed.” (Source: Vinod Khosla—Net worth $1.5B. Co-founder of Sun Microsystems and investor in Quantus, iLike and eASIC.)
- There’s nothing more invigorating than being deeply involved with a small company and a young team of founders out to do something incredibly special.” (Source: Michael Moritz—Net worth $3B. Chairman of Sequoia Capital and investor in Google, PayPal, Yahoo and LinkedIN)
What great advice and words of wisdom from those that “have been there and done that”! Richard Branson in his article probably summarizes it best when he says: “When you’re building a business from scratch, the key word for many years is “survival”. It’s tough to survive. In the beginning you haven’t got the time or energy to worry about saving the world. You’ve just got to fight to make sure you can look after your bank manager and be able to pay the bills. Literally, your full concentration has to be on surviving.”