Brian Ring is program director of the Greater Los Angeles Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® program. EOY Awards are given to entrepreneurs who demonstrate extraordinary success in the areas of innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Brian gives some useful tips to entrepreneurs, based on finalists and judges at this year's event, which is coming up on June 24th.
Focus on building the right team and listening to the people you know you can trust. Stay determined, be consistent and keep challenging yourself. These are some of the many insights on how to succeed as an entrepreneur from participants in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) Award in the Greater Los Angeles Area.
What does it take to start a successful business? Here are seven secrets shared by this year’s finalists and judges:
1. Stay alive during the bad times – Dogged determination is what Hal Washburn, BreitBurn Energy Partners and EOY finalist, says is the key to being a successful entrepreneur and weathering what can be a vicious cycle. There are good times and very bad times, and you’ve got to be creative to stay alive during the bad times.
2. Don’t hire your best friend – Brad Jones, Redpoint Ventures and EOY judge, warns the most common mistake is not insisting on having the highest-quality people on the managerial team. Too often entrepreneurs hope that someone who’s a nice person or whom they’ve known a long time can do a job that they haven’t done before, instead of finding the most qualified person who understands the pitfalls. If the team is really good, the business usually works, he says.
3. Do it all to know it all – Jeffrey Lubell, True Religion Apparel, Inc. and EOY finalist, believes the key to his success is knowing how to do everything in his business – design, merchandise, sell, distribute and market his jeans. He even knows how to sew them. Jeffrey advises entrepreneurs to constantly think of ways to do what’s never been done before.
4. Don’t overthink, do – Shelley Zalis, OTX Corporation and EOY finalist, advises entrepreneurs to believe in what they are doing. Know you can make a difference. If not you, who? If not now, when? Don’t overthink things. Simplify. Don’t ask questions that are too hard to answer, instead, create challenges that you can exceed so that you keep setting new goals for yourself. Be passionate. Love what you do or don’t do it. Empower your team because everyone can make a difference.
5. Have fun – Having fun at what you’re doing has got to be high on the list, says Kamran Pourzanjani, co-founder of PriceGrabber.com and EOY judge. If you’re passionate about what you are doing and you’re having fun, you’re going to do great, he says.
6. Develop a solid business model – The secret to the success for an entrepreneur is starting out with the right business model and then keeping your horizons open and letting your business model evolve as you grow, suggests Kevin Sproles, Volusion, Inc. and EOY finalist.
7. Stick to your game plan – Dr. Donald Rice, Agensys, Inc. and EOY finalist, advises entrepreneurs to come up with a sound game plan and stick to it. He says it’s essential to seek advice on different ways to accomplish your objectives from venture capitalists, academics or advisors – then have the insight and fortitude to stick to the game plan.
Brian Ring is program director of Ernst & Young's Greater Los Angeles Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® program. EOY Awards are given to entrepreneurs who demonstrate extraordinary success in the areas of innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Regional EOY award winners will be eligible for consideration in the national program. Winners in numerous national categories, as well as the overall national award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 15, 2008. The awards are the concluding event of the Strategic Growth Forum, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. This year, the EOY awards program celebrates its 22nd anniversary. The program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 135 cities in 50 countries throughout the world.