Looking to find what it takes to create a successful and thriving business, lifelong entrepreneur, business consultant and university professor Michael Glauser geared up for an adventure.
Riding more than 4,000 miles in 45 days, Glauser and his team spent 246 hours on a bike seat, climbed 155,000 vertical feet, visited more than 100 cities across the country, and interviewed 100 small-town entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs found a community that they love and then found things they loved doing in that community in order to create a business to take care of themselves and their families.
Out of this adventure came the new book “Main Street Entrepreneur: Build Your Dream Company Doing What You Love where You Live,” which captures the best lessons learned and stories from these entrepreneurs who operate successful businesses from Main Street USA. A documentary film is soon to follow.
This ambitious project began on June 2, 2014 in Florence, Oregon, and crossed the finish line in Yorktown, Virginia on Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
“We learned what some of our most successful business owners in small town America are doing right,” said Glauser. “We saw how the owners are building their extraordinary companies, making a significant difference in their towns, and exemplifying critical keys to successful venturing.”
Among the hundred plus entrepreneurs they interviewed during the tour, Glauser shared with Lioness just nine of the many keys he discovered:
1. Start with a Clear Purpose.
Successful entrepreneurs are driven by a purpose bigger than themselves. While they realize they need to make money to be sustainable, none of the 100 entrepreneurs we interviewed mentioned money as a primary driver. It is not what motivates them. Instead, they want to do something they are passionate about, solve a problem that intrigues them, create jobs in their town, provide phenomenal customer service, and change the world in their own way.
2. Build on What You Know.
Successful entrepreneurs build companies in industries they understand. About one-third of the entrepreneurs we interviewed worked in the industry in which they started their business. Another third had worked in a related industry. The remaining third were serious and frequent users of the products, so they understood the industry from the customer’s perspective. The better you know your industry, the greater your chances for success.
3. Launch Opportunities Not Ideas.
Ideas and business opportunities are not the same thing. Our business failure rate is high because people launch ideas. A true business opportunity meets the conditions of the NERCM test: (1) Need, (2) Experience, (3) Resources, (4) Customers, and (5) Model. Your chances for success go up significantly when you prove there is a need for your product, you have adequate experience, you bring together sufficient resources, you have customers committed to buy, and your business model is sound.
4. Develop Your Supporting Cast.
Successful entrepreneurs thrive on the experience of others. They recruit talented individuals to fill in the gaps in their skill set. They build teamwork at three levels: (1) they create a “Brain Trust” of mentors with expertise they need, (2) they build a core team of partners who join them in the venture, and (3) they develop strategic partnerships with individuals and companies who can help them grow their business. Talented teams can go further and faster than any individual working alone.
5.Maximize All Available Resources.
Effectiveness is achieving important company objectives. Efficiency is doing it with as few resources as possible. Successful entrepreneurs are masters of efficiency – they have a real knack for finding and utilizing a host of resources other than money. They borrow rather than buy, defer compensation, partner with their first customers, negotiate excellent terms with suppliers, and use someone else’s plant rather than build one – they think resources first, cash second.
6. Work with a Zealous Tenacity.
Successful entrepreneurs are high energy people. They have two related and vital qualities: (1) a tremendous zeal for their business, and (2) a dogged tenacity to win. Zeal is the fire that fuels the venture, and tenacity is the trait that produces the results. These two qualities combined get you through the challenges of building a business and dramatically increase your chances for success.
7. Build a Community of Raving Fans.
Customers approach companies with preconceived notions of how they should be treated. If their expectations are met, they are basically satisfied. The problem is, satisfied customers are not always loyal customers – they will patronize competitors’ businesses as well. Giving customers more than they expect to receive will set you apart from your competitors and help you create a community of raving fans that love your business.
8. Pivot to Multiple Revenue Streams
Winning entrepreneurs continue to seek out and develop multiple streams of revenue. They do this by (1) offering related products to their growing customer base, (2) finding new markets for their growing product line, and (3) utilizing their growing resources to create new ventures. Over time, they end up juggling a reasonable number of projects in the same or related industries. Having multiple revenue streams reduces the vulnerability of a single product line, and increases the chances for long-term success.
9. Serve Your Broader Community
Successful entrepreneurs are intimately involved in the fabric of their communities. They are using their resources to assist individuals and organizations that need their skills, experience and expertise. They are addressing issues in education, literacy, health care, and the environment. Their communities end up saying, “This business supports us, so let’s support this business,” even though this was not the original intent of the service offered. Serving communities is good for everyone.