It’s not coincidental that the best business minds are also life-long learners. Sure, they can afford advisers to project market trends and collect data, but elite entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos learn to keep their minds sharp and stay competitive.
Cuban reads and watches the markets, Branson always says, “Yes!” and picks up new insights as he works, and Bezos considers new ventures as “experiments” and learns from the unexpected twists, wins and losses he experiences.
According to the 20th century’s greatest entrepreneur, learning has an even bigger benefit. Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80.”
So, how does a busy owner-operator decide where to focus the limited time available to learn business skills for WISPs? Let’s check with the business elite themselves.
Mark Cuban – Learn to Sell
A visionary and early tech entrant, Cuban says, “Sales come first.” And, his results prove it. When he started his first company – a software re-seller – in the mid-1980s, he knew very little about the technology industry but he knew how to sell. He sold MicroSolutions to CompuServe for $6 million in 1990. In February 2019, he was worth more than $3 billion.
You might think that selling doesn’t apply to you. After all, there’s great demand in your area with no slow-down in sight.
But, that’s today. A government grant can fund a competitor that swoops in after you’ve done the hard work to develop your region. And, your new competitor will know how to sell. Don’t wait until your subscribers jump ship to pick up this key business skill for WISPs.
Sales knowledge comes in handy in other ways, too. When it’s time to make a presentation to an interested buyer or apply for a lucrative grant, sales skills can mean the difference between landing a big payday or not.
Jeff Bezos – Be Customer Obsessed
Bezos started his entrepreneurial career in his parent’s garage and in 1995 he founded Amazon with just 10 employees. Amazon’s value is $860 billion in 2019. To maximize business success, Bezos advises entrepreneurs to be customer obsessed and, “Figure out how to absolutely delight them.”
This means more than low prices or the best service. In a business like a WISP, you might have to dig a little to learn what’s important to your subscribers. It could be community involvement, or they may want local businesses to be a vocal patron to area charities or a sponsor or coach of a little league team. The point is to be visible and active in the communities you serve.
And, it’s not complicated to delight subscribers. A birthday greeting or an anniversary card for each year of service can make subscribers fall in love with your WISP.
Richard Branson – Think Differently
Sir Richard is the only knighted entrepreneur on our list and is well-known for his democratic leadership style and for encouraging his employees to innovate. Branson’s best advice to leaders is to learn to think differently.
Innovation doesn’t just happen — approach issues from different angles to arrive at new, better ways of doing things.
As your WISP streamlines business operations, elevates how subscribers are served, or stays in-step with conversations about new spectrum sources and license regulations, you have the fuel to rethink the current position and leverage opportunities that lead to greater profits, happier subscribers and staff.
There are millions of ways to do things, so when it comes to learning new business skills for WISPs, it’s critical to determine what’s important, pick a direction and stay focused on your goals. Choose partners who commit to your success and support you in your journey.
Your success is priority one at Visp.net. The Success Team dedicates a chat channel to your WISP so your team has an open line to ask questions, report issues and resolve them fast. And, the WISP Success Blog publishes business growth and technical posts to help all WISPs grow. Come back often and make learning and growth a priority.
Thank you to J.M. Arnold for the image used in this article; you can find his work at Unsplash.com.