Gary Hoover On How to “Think Like an Entrepreneur” and Succeed in Your Business

This week, I had the distinct honor of hearing Gary Hoover present at the Houston Technology Center on how to “Think Like an Entrepreneur”.  Gary Hoover is a successful entrepreneur having founded companies including Bookstop and Hoovers.com and he’s spent the last year as the “Entrepreneur in Residence” at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Austin.

Gary’s presentation was described as an “intense, information and idea packed presentation… [that] will be like drinking from a fire hydrant.”  That description was spot-on.

I took over 5 pages of notes, mostly trying to type as fast as I could and catch the great and inspiring quotes of wisdom plus the recommendations for books and specific, actionable items Gary said we could do to change the way we thought and be more successful and innovative in business.  

Gary began his presentation by personally handing everyone in the audience his business card and shaking our hands.  On the back of Hoover’s card are the top 8 things he believes are keys to making great enterprises.  Download a larger photograph of his business card with the 8 tips to keep and view more photos from the evening presentation in the Tendenci Photo Album I’ve created.

If you are interested in a  full copy of my notes, leave a comment below or send me an email at sworthy@tendenci.com and I’ll gladly send them to you.

I was inspired by how much of what Gary recommended for being a more successful entrepreneur also applied to the work we do at Schipul for our clients in web development, website design, and web marketing.  In learning to think more like an entrepreneur, you also learn to see different perspectives, understand the ‘bigger picture’ of your business, and receive lifelong benefits personally and professionally.

Probably the most profound statement of the evening from Gary was when he said:

‘I define entrepreneurship as getting great personal satisfaction from serving others… you have to love it and others have to love [what you are giving them].  

The people who are most happy with their lives at my stage are the people who have spent their whole lives working to make the world a better place.”

Here are Gary’s recommendations for learning how to “Think Like an Entrepreneur”.  My goal is for you to find the same inspiration and ways to relate them to your daily life as I found.

Practice the Habit of Wisdom

‘These are people who just cannot be anything but an entrepreneur.    They may fail a lot’ because it’s hard to get them to sit still, hard to get them to focus… but ultimately they are going to succeed because they just don’t stop.”

As Gary states, some people are born fundamentally entrepreneurial and others are born to be bureaucrats, while the rest of us fall someplace in between the 2 extremes.  If you want to become more entrepreneurial, then you will need to change by developing better thinking habits.

To develop these habits, you’ll first need to master the 3 things Gary calls his working definition of wisdom :

  1. Knowing what matters and what doesn’t matter.
  2. Knowing what changes and what doesn’t change.
  3. Knowing what you can change and what you can’t change.

These are three easy concepts to understand and yet, very difficult to master. As Gary put it, “There’s no rocket science here, but you’ll spend your whole life trying to figure out what matters and what doesn’t.”

Be Curious

“Study the great entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and so on, and you’ll find an intense curiosity.”

Gary explains the importance of doing your research before starting a new business venture.  The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who ask the most questions and really understand the marketplace, the customers and competitors, and gain insight into the future of the business environment.

Ask the managers and owners of similar businesses questions like:

  • What do you like about your job, and what don’t you like?
  • What is the best day you’ve ever had… describe your worst day?
  • What do you look for in an employee and how do you hire and train new people?

By asking questions and being curious, you can begin to gain perspectives from other people and understand the why’s and the how’s and the what’s…

When you begin to understand these different perspectives beyond your own, you can make better decisions and you are more equipped to solve problems as they are thrown randomly at you.

Read Every Day

“The key question is do you see yourself in a box or not in box?”

The greatest thought leaders in the world are also the most avid readers.  Read daily, Gary recommends, books and business journals… the beauty of the internet is the availability of so much free and great reading material.

Here are 2 books Gary recommended Tuesday night:

The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovators DNA describes 4 skills required for innovation:

  1. Observing
  2. Networking
  3. Experimenting
  4. Questioning

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck

Mindset describes the importance of not locking your children or yourself into a set way of thinking.  Gary recommended this book and said “It’s not about being smart or being stupid: people who think they’re smart are locking themselves in a box just like people who think they’re stupid.”

Entrepreneurship is not About the Technology

“Entrepreneurship is a lifelong process of self-understanding: learning about yourself .”

As I listened to Gary’s presentation, I found myself mentally replacing the word “entrepreneurship” with “Marketer” and “Schipulite”. We’re passionate about providing great service to our clients.  We’re constantly asking questions and inviting our clients to come hang out with us so we can get to know you.  We never stop trying to innovate and find better ways to help your business increase online and offline revenues through your website and web marketing.

These quotes from Gary’s presentation were my favorite because they gave me new perspectives on creating a better user experience through our Tendenci CMS for you, your staff, and your website visitors:

‘When I use the word technology, I mean any way of doing better things…  Technology is only relevant to the extent that it makes people’s lives better!”

“Step back and look at the big pattern’ and the big pattern here is that ALL MEDIA has been digitalized, it’s all been turned into 0’s and 1’s.”

Be obsessed with your customer and making great products for them and you will succeed’ be passionate about it.  It is about making it good for the user!”

I would love to hear how we can make our products and services better for You and anything else you want to add!  Please tell us below in our comments or Come Hang Out With Us and get to know us.  (And I promise to ask you lots of questions!)

7 Tips for New Entrepreneurs from Tech Champs

Welcome WIlson Sr. Shares Tips with Houston Technology Champions

Last Friday, noted Real Estate Developer and Entrepreneur Welcome Wilson Sr.  shared great advice for new entrepreneurs along with some terrific jokes at the August Technology Champions event.  The Houston Technology Center hosts a monthly Technology Champions breakfast and  Tech Champs members  represent Houston’s entrepreneurial and technology leaders and experts.

Although the event is focused on technology start-ups, I believe nonprofits and other organizations looking to succeed in this economy can also apply Welcome  Wilson Sr.’s “7 Tips for New Entrepreneurs”.

Tip #1: Never Trust an Expert More than You Trust Yourself!

If someone presents themselves as an expert and their evidence or reports don’t quite add up to you – trust your gut and do some research yourself, and get a second opinion.  There are a lot of “experts” out there who are more skilled at taking your money then providing your business with real value if you let them.

Tip #2: It is Safer to be a Copycat than a Pioneer!

Take MySpace versus Facebook or Internet Explorer versus Chrome and Firefox, and remember it isn’t always the person who comes up with the idea first that succeeds.  Most successful companies began by taking an idea that already existed and then found ways to improve on the idea, the marketing message or both.

Tip #3: You are NOT Invincible, Despite What You Think!

It takes a lot of courage to start your own company and that same attitude can also lead to an abundance of fearlessness. Take a moment to analyze those big make or break decisions because you can make a mistake and your business can run out of money and fail.

Tip #4: Deal with the Major Set Backs, Then Forget About it and Move On!

Sometimes you make a mistake and some things are out of your control – like the economy.  When something happens that steers you off track – analyze your situation to determine how it happened.  Think about it for a little while and then if you make plans to go ahead, move on and forget the failure and remember your successes.

Tip #5: Schmooze Important People!

Welcome Wilson Sr. said it best: “Any success is a group effort”. Find people who can help you succeed and then get to know them.  Think of what you can do to help them and offer that help.

Tip #6: Never, NEVER Burn a Bridge!

You never know who you may need to partner with down the road, and good relationships are critical in business deals. Treat people with kindness and respect, no matter how nasty they are in return.  You’ll earn their respect, the respect of those around you, and you’ll be remembered as a good person to do business with.

Tip #7 “Be Prepared and Show Up!”

This final tip is applicable to pretty much any situation I can imagine in life – you have to show up to the event with the items and information you need to accomplish your objectives.

I’ll conclude with one of the hilarious jokes Wilson Sr. told Friday after proclaiming he and his Alma Mater, the University of Houston are both 84 years old: “You know you’re getting old when you tell your best friend that you are having an affair, and he wants to know who’s catering it.”

The Technology Champions Networking Breakfasts are just one of many events the Houston Technology Center hosts.  This Wednesday August 10th, HTC has partnered with NASA/Johnson Space Center to offer “Resources for Entrepreneurs” orientation meetings at the Gilruth Center in Clear Lake.  Register to learn how to find the tools and resources you need as an entrepreneur.

View future entrepreneurial events at the  Houston Technology Center’s Calendar    and check out photos from Friday’s Tech Champs networking breakfast.