Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Entrepreneurial Experiences From Alan Hall

Klydi Heywood
Klydi Heywood

After having a 1 - 4 track record with successful businesses, Alan Hall asked his wife if he could second mortgage the house to start Marketstar.

“Bless her heart, she let me do it,” Mr. Hall said, “And I worked my tail off to make this business successful because I had learned some of the things I’m going to tell you tonight.”

At the Entrepreneurship Speaker Series Lecture Wednesday Feb. 6, Mr. Hall gave seven points that have helped him in his entrepreneurial adventures. Three in particular stood out to me.

Know your customer

“You go sell your idea first, you come back and design it, you build it and then you deliver it,” he said. He explained that many entrepreneurs start with the design and end with selling. When a person pitches their business idea and they don’t know specifically who their customer is, it’s all down-hill because they don’t know where to market, they don’t know how to get it out and “they blow through lots of money trying to find the customer,” Mr. Hall added.

He explained to never base your business on the product in the first place, other than the idea.

Take care of your customers

“Once people get the sale, they do a lousy job of taking care of that customer,” Mr. Hall said. He named the following list the “Value Chain of What Customers Want When They Buy a Product”:
  • Good product
  • Good price
  • Delivered on time
  • Make sure it works
  • Support
  • A good buying experience

“If you’re going to start a business, shouldn’t you take care of your customers?” Mr. Hall asked. He stated that taking care of the customers is where a lot of entrepreneurs fail.

Hire the right employees

I especially liked this point because of the applicability it has to me at this time in college. If this is the kind of person Mr. Hall wants to hire, then this is the professional I want to become.

He told us his seven C’s of hiring:

Competent - Although this is important, Mr. Hall said he made some big mistakes in his career by only looking at this aspect.

Capable - They need to be capable of growth. “They can actually take the assignment they have and enhance it,” Mr. Hall said. “They can do it better and more efficiently.”

Compatible - Mr. Hall stated that he wasted a lot of time on interpersonal relationships when he didn’t get along with someone.

Committed - You need to hire someone who will come in, work through thick and thin, won’t bail and will make sure they are always getting their job done, Mr. Hall said.

Character - “I want people who are honest, who have integrity, work hard, keep commitments, do things that are right, and if they don’t, I get rid of them,” Mr. Hall said, adding that to be honorable is non-negotiable.

Culture - Mr. Hall’s specific culture has developed overtime. His culture is “love of God, love of self, love of family, love of work, love of community.”  He emphasized the importance of always supporting and upholding this culture. If his employees like the culture and can depend on it, then they will work hard in return.

Compensation - Mr. Hall advised that we always want to take care of our employees. We should always be looking at ways to reward, increase pay and increase growing opportunities for those who deserve it.

Mr. Hall’s lecture opened my mind to a lot of mistakes that can be avoided on the entrepreneurial journey. I hope we can all take a few notes and become the next generation of successful business professionals.

For the complete lecture, click here