Hello everybody! Thank you for inviting me, I am glad to see so many cheerful, and healthy, young business college students here today. First let me introduce myself; my name is Mark Rice, and I am the dean of the Babson Business School in Wilson, Massachusetts. I am here to share with you my knowledge about entrepreneurship. I will walk you through what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, or even more evocative, what little it takes to fail in entrepreneurship. We will talk a little bit about franchising and herein I will give you an example of a successful entrepreneur. I hope that you, as young business college students, will find this very interesting, and with a bit of luck, we might even have a discussion at the end of the day.
Facts about newly started companies
To become a successful entrepreneur, is for many people a dream come true. However, too many entrepreneurs see their dreams fall apart. Did you know that one-third of all small businesses fail in the first two years? Well, it gets worse than that. Within the first five years more than half of the newly started companies fail. I don’t know about you, but if I had known about these numbers before starting a career as an entrepreneur, I sure as hell wouldn’t dare to start. I am not here to scare you away of course; I am trying to make a point. My point is that you have to do your homework; you have to know the game before you start playing.
Basic rules of becoming an entrepreneur
To become a successful entrepreneur, there of course are some basics rules you need to know before you start playing. You have got to have enough money to get your business properly started. You have to think big, even if you are not, you have to convince the customers that you are bigger and better than your competitors are. Make sure you stay focused on your idea, on your vision, it cost a lot of money if you are jumping back and forward in ideas. Make decisions based on facts not emotions.
To become a successful entrepreneur, one of the smart moves to know in the game is building relationships with investors, suppliers and certainly with customers. For small companies it is a good idea to build relationships with larger companies and to consider, what is it, that I can do better, faster and cheaper than these large companies, so that there in this way can become a partnership and these big companies end up being your customers on the b-2-b market.
Impossible is nothing
To become a successful entrepreneur, it is not enough to know the rules of the game, you also need to have the game spirit. Entrepreneurs faces many difficulties where some of them might seem impossible to solve. I assume you all know Mohammad Ali the famous boxer. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration, it is a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing” This great man once said. The only limitations you have are the ones you place on yourself; your limit can exceed the point of your imagination.
Make it broad, and make it big. The golden three
To become a successful entrepreneur, the golden three as I call it is without doubt the entrepreneurial spirit, the “I’ll do whatever it takes to solve a problem” attitude and the passion for your business. You can’t keep going without these three, because you will bump in difficult challenges, and if your spirit, attitude and passion doesn’t keep you on track you will easily give it all up, and trust me, I have seen plenty of these examples. Entrepreneurship is a business where there is some tough games in the league, and if you are not willing to risk it all you will never win the championship.
As I have said early, many companies who fail does it in the first years. An alternative to these hard years, starting up from scratch, is to become a part of an existing franchising chain. Franchising is a business strategy with a whole network of interdependent businesses. As a franchisee, you own the assets of your company, but you are licensed to a brand and an operating system with an ongoing support. To become a successful franchisee you need to have passion for the business and the brand you are using. No one will buy goods from a seller who does not believe in the product himself, and it’s your own profit you are making.
A successful story: Cold Stone Creamery
A good example of a successful franchising chain is Cold Stone Creamery. It is one of the fastest growing franchisers in the country. In a little over ten years, they have gone from a single store in Arizona, to a franchise with more than 1200 stores nationwide. If you ask how they managed to become so successful, you already know the answer. They had a good idea, and through their golden three, spirit, attitude and passion, they managed to turn their simple idea to a great company.
Thanks for listening everybody, and, to quote Muhammad Ali once again, remember: “Even the greatest was once a beginner”. Now I would be happy to answer your questions.