Any talentless human being with a blog, twitter account and shitty idea can call themselves a entrepreneur. But these guys actually are.
Entrepreneur, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
How to recognize a business opportunity:
Know the industry very well. Most people think it’s all about the idea. It’s not. EVERYONE has ideas. The hard part is doing the homework to know if the idea could work in an industry, and then doing the preparation to be able to execute on the idea. I just started a business called HDNet. There never is one area that has a door open to everyone. Try to find an area with something you love to do and do it. It’s a lot easier to work hard and prepare when you love what you are doing.
Characteristics of an Entrepreneur:
Willingness to learn, to be able to focus, to absorb information, and to always realize that business is a 24/7 job where someone is always out there to kick your ass.
To retire by the age of 35 was my goal. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there though. I knew I would end up owning my own business someday, so I figured my challenge was to learn as much as anyone about every and all businesses. I believed that every job I took was really me getting paid to learn about a new industry. I spent as much time as I could, learning and reading everything about business that I could get my hands on. I used to go into the library for hours and hours reading business books and magazines.
There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard, and try to put yourself in a position where if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it. I would also say it’s hard not to fool yourself. Everyone tells you how they are going to be “special,” but few do the work to get there. Do the work.
It’s good. I’m always afraid of failing. It’s great motivation to work harder.
Starting your own business:
Do your homework and know your business better than anyone. Otherwise, someone who knows more and works harder will kick your ass.
Get and stay out of your comfort zone: I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."
Never give up: Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted. Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity.
When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think: There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."
With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be: Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences." My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you."
Take things a day at a time: No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.
Be quick to decide: Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."
Solve your own problems: You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."
Founder, Virgin Group
On diversifying your business: Conventional wisdom says to specialize in one area and don't stray, and that the best businesses stick to their core. If you look at the top 20 brands in the world, it's true — Coke, Nike, Microsoft. But personally, I think rules are made to be broken.
On how small businesses can win against big competitors: Big businesses will always try to crush small upstarts. To beat big businesses, use the strengths of being small. Big corporations are impersonal; staff are often not treated well. At a small company, you can make sure your staff are proud of working for you and then they'll work hard to be successful. And small companies are more nimble. At Virgin Airways, if we want to upgrade the seats on our planes, it would take nine months; it would take British Airways seven years.
On his wild publicity stunts (including skydiving, jumping off buildings and crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon): I realized early in life that in order to put Virgin on the map, I’d have to use myself because I did not have an ad budget. It helped portray Virgin as a company that's adventurous. There's no difference between being an adventurer and being an entrepreneur. [In both cases] you're always pushing limits and protecting the downsides. Living for the moment just makes sense.
On doing business ethically: Your reputation can be ruined overnight, so do deals where you can sleep at night.
On how to retain staff: People like to be entertained, they like to have fun. People who run companies have to realize that when it comes to your employees, this is their life. You have to make it enjoyable.
On how to get ideas for new products: Always have a notebook in your pocket. People at parties and events can have great ideas, and you won't remember them the next day.