Hal Goldstein, author of this website, invited me to guest blog. I recently finished his undergraduate class “The Successful Entrepreneur,” at Maharishi University of Management (MUM), where students take one month-long class at a time. I only agreed to take The Successful Entrepreneur because there wasn’t anything better available during the March block. I quickly discovered how lucky I was. Every afternoon, new successful, meditating entrepreneurs would come to our class, tell us their stories and answer our questions. Wow.
Each successful entrepreneur guest had a unique business, style, and story. However, some themes highlighted by many of the guest speakers reached out and shook me.
1. Anyone can start a business
I always thought I’d either suffer through the tedium of working for someone else, or suffer as a starving artist. It turns out, I can create a world of my own – a business! Within my world, I can cultivate a culture rich with love, support, trust, awareness, integrity, and creativity so that everyone involved is positively influenced.
The Successful Entrepreneur class changed my life. Although I learned a lot, the primary lesson was that only the people crazy enough to think they can start successful businesses actually do. I only need to believe in myself! Class guest speaker Bob Daniels, founder of Copperfield Chimney Supply, said, “If he can do it, why can’t I?”
2. It doesn’t take (much) money, knowledge, or skill
During the Successful Entrepreneur, we heard fifteen different talks from successful entrepreneurs who started out in our rural Midwestern town. My teacher, and the man behind this website, Hal Goldstein, told us his story on the first day of class. He quit his prestigious job at Hewlett-Packard to move to Fairfield, Iowa to be part of the Transcendental Meditation World Peace Project in the 80’s. He then started a newsletter, that after 30 years, has morphed into iPhone Life magazine.
Hal didn’t know much about business, or anything about publishing, when he created his first newsletter, and his business has been running since 1985. So, I learned that I don’t have to know it all right away to start a business.
Guest speaker Clyde Cleveland, co-founder and President of Randall Marketing Group, said, “Business is common sense.” Anyone can create a business, even without money! Guest speaker after guest speaker came to our class to tell their stories, and a lot of them received help, took out loans, or found innovative ways to start their businesses without any start up capital of their own! Most of them started small, even out of their own homes. I found out that even Amazon.com started in the founder’s garage.
Although money, knowledge, and skill are all required to start a business, nobody has it all right away. All entrepreneurs start somewhere. Attaining money, knowledge, and skill is part of the process of creating a business.
3. Building a business is done in three easy steps
The specific action steps needed to turn my dreams to reality are so simple that many might not believe it. I must envision a clear and specific goal, commit to it unshakably, and persist through all obstacles until the goal is realized.
A clear vision of the future is necessary; how can I get what I want when I don’t even know what that is? I must believe I will achieve my goal. Obstacles can be seen as stepping-stones on the way to the goal.
So, envision, commit, persist. Noah Siemsen, COO of iPhone Life magazine, said, “Decide who you want to be and be that person. It works for life and it works for business.”
4. The successful entrepreneur’s secret is passion and perseverance
A number of the class guest speakers struggled for years before reaching any success. Passion and perseverance were integral to their success. They felt strongly about what they were doing, believed it mattered, and knew it could benefit others. They also believed in themselves as entrepreneurs, leaders, and successful individuals. Their positive thinking, passion for their visions, and refusal to give up has brought them success.
While planning is essential for any goal, it’s still good to live in the moment. My problem has always been that I plan out huge projects and immediately get overwhelmed with how much there is to do. When small problems arise, I can feel defeated early in the project. When I take things one step at a time, I’m always amazed at what I can accomplish.
It doesn’t pay to give up in the face of difficulties. It does pay to stay calm and focus on one thing at a time. External circumstances always change, but the success of my business will depend on my unyielding confidence, passion, and perseverance.
5. Keeping my word is everything
Keeping my word is important in life, and critical in business. I wouldn’t like it if I showed up at a hair appointment and the salon was closed. What if I opened up a bag of Doritos and found Lay’s potato chips inside? Businesses make promises to customers. Their ability to consistently follow through on those promises shapes customers’ views of them.
McDonald’s is a prime example of a business that fulfills its promises. Customers know exactly what they’re getting every time, no matter which store. The same colors, menus, burgers, fries, smells, tables, seats, prices, everything! Whatever one might think about McDonald’s, it keeps its promises, and it’s one of the most successful businesses in the world.
In class, we learned to strengthen our “commitment muscle” by committing to small tasks each night. For example, one student promised to call his grandmother. He had to go to three different stores before he found the international calling card he needed, but he kept his word. Hal taught us that the more you keep your word, the more powerful your word becomes. So, when I say something, or think it, I make it true.
Taking my word seriously is a form of self-respect. The things I say matter. When I talk, I mean it. Being honest and following through on commitments build self-confidence. Moreover, having a strong “commitment muscle” is of paramount importance in building trust with customers. Guest speaker Paul Tarnoff, founder of Plenable Solutions, said, “The customer not only has to listen to you, but has to trust you.”
6. Starting can be the hardest part
What’s next after all this inspiration? What business should I start? Guest speaker Monica Hadley, founder of Aeron Life Technology, said, “Ideas are easy; execution is the hard part.” I could just look around. The whole world is full of inspiration. I must permit myself some creative freedom and not be afraid to fail. Ideas are everywhere. I’ve probably had some brilliant business ideas before, but not done anything about them. Guest speaker Jim Bagnola, founder of The Leadership Group, said, “Your thoughts are Nature talking to you. Record them, write them down, put them into action before someone else does.”
Guest speaker Jeffrey Hedquist, founder of Hedquist Productions Inc., described his “lily-pad approach” to figuring out what to do with life. He tried new things and took various jobs until he landed on what he really loved. After he found out what he loved, he stuck with it. He’s done voiceovers for the some of the most famous commercials on television. So, maybe I will work for someone else, or even a few someone elses, until I figure out what it is that I love and could make money doing.
7. Meditating gives life to business
Pure Consciousness from meditating regularly is the basis from which I will create my full life and successful business. Guest speaker Peter Huggins, founder of Phoenix Energy Inc., said, “Being more established in the Self makes you a happier person, therefore a nicer person, and therefore a better businessperson.” Guest speaker Walter Day, founder of Walter Day Collection LLC, said, “TM wakes people up, wakes up intelligence, and wakes up the creative process.” Transcending to subtler levels of consciousness allows access to more knowledge, creativity, and happiness, all of which better enable me to start a successful business.
Theresa Fross is a Media Communications and Creative Writing student at Maharishi University of Management.