Effective habits of entrepreneurship

[Story and photo by Mike Foley: Published originally in the BYU-Hawaii online “Newsroom,” September 11, 2007]

Stephen GibsonStephen W. Gibson [pictured on the right], the new Entrepreneur-in-Residence in the BYU-Hawaii Mark and Laura Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship shared seven highly effective habits with School of Business students during the first lecture in the CIE’s 2007-08 series.

Gibson, who sold his multi-state medical oxygen business in 1993 and then became an entrepreneurship professor at BYU in Provo, is perhaps better known here at this point for participating in the CIE’s annual business plan competitions. In 1999 he and his wife, Bette, founded the Academy for Creative Enterprise (ACE) in Cebu, Philippines; and he was named the BYU-Hawaii Executive of the Year in 2002. He also recently started the Utah Angels, a venture capital group that helps aspiring entrepreneurs.

“I believe we were all entrepreneurs in the pre-existence,” said Gibson at the outset of his presentation. “I would also add that I believe our theology as Latter-day Saints makes for a larger percentage of entrepreneurs in our faith than found in most other Christian religions.”

“An entrepreneur is someone who sees a problem as a possible opportunity and carefully calculates the risk necessary to change the problem into an opportunity,” he said. “I think in the preexistence, with the plan proposed by Jehovah, we all saw an opportunity for continued advancement.”

Gibson said he also strongly believes “entrepreneurs can be made — trained, just like piano player, to make certain moves, develop certain habits, and obey certain laws — and then the blessings predicated on keeping those laws of business and financial success will follow.”

“I submit to you, especially for those from…developing countries that your greatest opportunities, your greatest reward and your great chance to develop yourself to the highest potential, lie in following an entrepreneurial path in your own country. To me, entrepreneurship is not only the key to returnability but also the key to financial independence and being a person of influence in the Church and in your community and nation.”

“We can be trained to think and act like entrepreneurs,” he continued, borrowing a phrase from noted author Stephen R. Covey, to outline the following “seven habits of the highly effective entrepreneurs”:

Entrepreneurs determine their own destiny.  “This is done through the choices we make,” he said. “Entrepreneurs possess a high ‘locus of control,’ which is a term used to explain how people view their ability to determine their own fate.”

Successful entrepreneurs build teams. “Entrepreneurs deal in the art of gathering individuals together and making teams. In the church we call them councils or committees,” he said, adding the best team starts with a couple married in the temple.

Entrepreneurs act with a sense of urgency.  “We need to do first things first.  In the short view, we need to prioritize every day; in the big picture, we need to prioritize our lives. I know of no simpler tool an entrepreneur uses, and one that we should use, than working off a daily check list that is prioritized on things we need to do.”

Great entrepreneurs and great Latter-day Saints delay early gratification. “No matter whether this is in a financial, emotional or business arena, having control of yourself, your spending habits, your sexual habits or your business cash and other assets all lead to earlier and more long lasting success.”

Entrepreneurs are excellent goal setters. “Personally, goal setting has been a key to success for Bette and me. It has worked for us both as parents and as entrepreneurs, authors and educators. A key for successful goal setting is writing down our goals and reviewing them often.”

Entrepreneurs embrace change. “We not only embrace change, we love it. We seek after opportunities to change.”

As Winston Churchill advised, entrepreneurs “never, never, never give up.”

“Don’t be afraid of success. Don’t be afraid of becoming wealthy,” Gibson continued. “While it is true you can’t buy happiness, I believe you can buy things that contribute to happiness, like better education, better health and better food, cleaner water, safer cars and a better lifestyle.”

He also encouraged the students to follow the counsel of King Benjamin, to “impart of your substance, your intellectual capital you have gained here, so that your brethren and sisters will be like unto you.”

Consider 3 Nephi 6:12, he suggested: And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learnings because of their riches.

“You must all remember that others at home may be ignorant of the things you have learned because of their poverty. You must help them lift themselves out of poverty by teaching them what you have learned,” Gibson said. “As you do and teach others to do the same, as well as follow the teachings of the Lord, you will become rich in the things that matter most.”

“At the end of the day our greatest joy doesn’t come from the dollars we stack up, but the lives we lift up. It’s my challenge to you that you’ll find people to lift up.”

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