Texans are no strangers to entrepreneur success stories. New business startups have thrived here at least as far back as 1901 when a mining engineer named Anthony Lucas partnered with two brothers from Corsicana named Hamill to discover oil at Spindletop near Beaumont. Their ambition, persistence, and hard work, can be traced through to other giants of industry like Herb Kelleher, who founded Southwest Airlines in 1967 to provide flights between Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, and Michael Dell, who created a company called PCs Limited in 1984. His idea would eventually grow into one of the most successful computer companies in the world.
We all know these business success stories, but there are hundreds more individuals who have played a role in the thriving Texas economy, and many more than that who have an idea and a dream of starting their own successful business. According to CNN Money, Texas is the 2nd “most entrepreneurial state in the country,” with a startup rate of 440 per 100,000 adults. Fledgling businesses come to Texas because they know they can find support in the form of startup capital through programs such as the Enterprise Fund, and through universities like Texas A&M, which provide young entrepreneurs new business incubators and a network of alumni who provide mentoring and advice.
Here are ten tips for aspiring entrepreneurs from ten business owners who got their start at Texas A&M University.
1. “If you don’t always do what’s in the customer’s best interests, someone else will.”
Miner Central Texas Ltd.
2. “Keep your promises.”
Ward McCampbell PC
3. “Your reputation is your most critical asset; treat it as so.”
Next IT Corporation
4. “When the chips are down, keep your head held high. This is what divides the great from the average.”
5. “Find out what people truly want and work backwards from there.”
Jon P. Wheeler
Jon P. Wheeler, DDS, PA
6. “Take care of the customer. Ultimately, they are the reason for your success. Don’t view the customer as an order, but rather as a long-term relationship.”
Fast-Pak Supply Corp.
7. “Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”
Sam T. Goodner, David Jacobson, Liam Collopy, Andrew Montz, Mike Albe
Capult Systems Inc.
8. “Know every aspect of your business, then find staff that do them better than you.”
Fat Tire Bike Tours
9. “In an entrepreneurial environment, a company’s success is deeply tied to its people. Work only with those you can truly trust and share the rewards of the collective effort.”
Improving Enterprises Inc.
10. “The most valuable asset of every company is never found on its balance sheet—it is the company’s employees.”
Craig Brown, David Gent
Bray International, Inc.
The tips were provided by Richard Lester, Executive Director of the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.