I am enjoying so much listening again to Gary Hoover from our conversation last week. You can listen here on-demand. There's so much he shares. Here is a transcript of but a few of his salient points.
Gary Hoover studied economics at the University of Chicago, worked on Wall Street as a securities analyst, worked for two giant department store chains, founded a pioneering book superstore chain (BOOKSTOP, now part of Barnes & Noble), and founded the company that became Hoover's, Inc., the operator of www.hoovers.com.
Laurence Kirshbaum, CEO of Time-Warner Trade Publishing calls Gary a true visionary. Gary shared his ideas and solutions for small business growth, strategy, innovation and principles that separate winners from losers. You can listen on-demand at this link.
I saw 2 1/2 minutes of your envision presentation from 2007. There you talked about 8 principles that separate winners from losers in business. Would you share with us those 8 principles and what makes them cull winners from losers.
Eight Principals that separate Winners from Losers in Business
1. Curiosity: the people who lead and create great enterprises are always looking for answers in unexpected places. People tend to see or discover new breakthrough ideas from outside of their industry. Information is everywhere; it is just waiting for us to see it.
2. Sense of history: learning the lessons of big history and learning the trends and how things change over time. Nothing in business is really new, but there is a huge amount to be learned from the past and its visionaries. Trends – you can only look as far forward as you are willing to look. If you want to see 5-10 years into the future, you have to look that far into the past. Trends happen slowly over time. Look at demographic changes or the changing role of women in the workforce...these changes have slowly evolved over time. Study them.
3. Sense of geography: 90% of the business world does not know the metropolitan geography they live in. Americans are probably worse than most people at not knowing what is going on around us. You need to visit your own neighborhood. Discover that area. Explore! We need to understand where it us comes from. It shapes us. Having that sense of context is one of the most important advantages of an entrepreneur. The winners figure it out and put their business in context.
4. Clear Vision: Clarity: no buzz words, plain English. Straightforward plain talk
5. Consistency: once you figure out what you are going to do and it works, stay with it. Be true to what you love, what you are good at, your passion.
6. Service: The only valid reason for the existence of any enterprise is to provide goods and services! You must put the customer first.
7. Unique: need a unique vision to be successful. Do not copy other companies. You won’t be another great by doing what someone else does. Do your own thing and make it the best.
8. Passion: You must love what you do and without that passion, you won’t be as successful. Whatever you love is where you have the greatest chance of success.
Business is better learned during observation, exploring, and traveling; not just in the academic arena. People who create successful enterprises have a breadth of vision. The best of them have such varied interests that do provide more of a well rounded impact on their businesses.
Can you change to become any of these principles?
Yes! Especially curiosity. People are naturally curious, but as we age, we lose our sense of wonder. This begins in the school system where we are instructed to listen to the teacher, the lesson and do not question the information. This is the way it is.
We should always wonder!
Most people do have passion and if it is lost, it can be rediscovered!!! Our brains are just packed with information and memory capacity. Exercise it! We all have passions for something. Practice it.
Let’s say we have a roomful of business managers who want to develop an entrepreneurial mind. And they’ve asked you to tell them 3 things they can do as soon as they leave the room, and do them every day to develop an entrepreneurial mind. What are these three?
1. Make sure you are in touch with the birth down to earth. See things in context! Getting back to basics – being real! “Hanging out on the streets and getting close to the ground.”
2. Travel to unexpected places you wouldn’t think you would like. Travel with your eyes open.
3. Start reading business history! Abe Books for used books. Read backgrounds on who started your business or your industry. There is so much to be learned from the past. Don’t overlook it. Read old Fortune Magazines. The best business book to read is, “The Visible Hand,” by Alfred Chandler, telling about how American big business rose up.
I’ve read a lot over the years about the need for entrepreneurs to hurry up, fire-aim-load. But in a blog post on Monday at hooversworld.com you encourage readers to Ponder First, Act Later. Does anyone have the time to do that?
Think about what you want first and then how to execute your plan. There is always a balance in how you build an enterprise. You must really think about your business at every level. If you are going to be a successful startup, you need to be one of the best experts. Do whatever is necessary to really think about it, the lessons you have learned, what has been before you that you have just never taken notice of. Pay attention!!!
This brings us to understanding the role of failure in a business. And, you’re very public with sharing your failure, such as it was with Travel Fest. I admire you for labeling this as a failure when it wasn’t your fault that the airlines cut your commission.
Why do you call it your failure? What did you learn from that experience? What did you apply in starting Hoovers and your future projects?
You must be accountable for the failure and learn the important lessons. Look hard at what you could have done differently. What would have made the difference? There is always something to be learned from a failure, making it a success strategy for the next time. You learn what you can from it and how do you pick yourself up. Keep on moving.
What are the three biggest trends you see effecting entrepreneurs here in this country?
Depends on the industry: we are moving to a service economy. Most opportunities in the service industry. Manufacturing is declining on a global scale... takes less to create the same products because everything in automated.
There are so much greater opportunities in the service industry: healthcare, arts and entertainment, the Presidency, pet services, or financial services. People will have to add services to their businesses or enhance their current offerings.
The next thing is globalization and trade. We really are at turning point where it is pervasive in our lives. Huge shares of the things we buy are made overseas. It is the biggest force for world peace in the history of the world. People are much less likely to attack each other when you are economically intertwined. It touches all of us!! You must understand the globe if you want to be a successful enterprise.
Let’s say we talk a year from now. What’s going to be the biggest change in our culture for business.
Nothing earth shattering in the next several years. It will be interesting to see how the government unfolds. We are all linked together – Europe – China. At the end of everyday everyone should ask themselves, “What did I learn? How might it relate to my enterprise, my mission?”
We are developing a nation of entrepreneurs and that last statement ties into the curiosity factor of becoming a business owner.
One of my favorite quotes from you was Saying a business exists to make a profit is like saying a car exists to get good gas mileage.
Can you leave us with one more inspiring quote for entrepreneurs, their passion and purpose?
“You can not know too much about your customers.” Get inside their head; find out that correlation that your competition does not see. Do whatever it takes to get in touch with your customers! Ultimately the understanding of your clients is up to you!! Get in touch with your customers and get deep in their eyes. Not just fluffy focus groups!
You can follow Gary on the web at his website: