A guide for business owners or aspirants

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2003, 12:00am

The Entrepreneur

By William E. Heinecke

with Jonathan Marsh

Published by John Wiley & Sons

'Being an adventurer and an entrepreneur are similar. You're willing to go where most people won't dare. It's not about US$2 billion or US$3 billion. It's about not wasting your life.'

British billionaire Sir Richard Branson

Branching out on your own to start up a business can be a daunting decision. It takes a lot of bravado to give up the security of a day job, a regular salary and all the other incentives that go with being employed by a corporation.

But you've got a hot idea that you know will set the world on fire - and your heart is set on being your own boss, despite what your colleagues, friends and family say.

The Entrepreneur, despite being a revised edition, is an educational eye-opener for the budding self-employed boss.

Written by William E. Heinecke, it details the author's 25 golden rules for business managers.

The Bangkok-based Heinecke started his first business at the age of 14 and was a millionaire before turning 21.

Hongkongers will know him as the founder of the Minor Group, a sprawling company dealing in a variety of sectors. The company employs 12,000 and recorded more than US$400 million in sales last year.

Heinecke's rules are based on common sense: find a vacuum and fill it, research your idea, learn to sell and trust your intuition are just a few covered.

'Still convinced you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?' Heinecke asks the reader in the first chapter.

'Okay, but what exactly are you going to do? The first rule of entrepreneurship is to train yourself to see vacuums, or gaps in the market, and then to fill them.

'Look around you. See that guy on the street with the sewing machine - what service is he providing? See the woman selling barbecued chicken near those cheap guest houses - why did she choose that location?

'There is one simple answer to all these questions: these businesses exist because there is a need for them.

'It doesn't matter how big or small your operation is, the principle remains the same: find that vacuum and fill it fast, before someone else does.'

Another rule Heinecke stands by is to enjoy what you do, but you must be fiercely committed if you want to survive.

'The faint-hearted don't last long as entrepreneurs,' he warns.

'Commitment is especially important early on, when you have a little bit of everything - a little bit of money, a little bit of business and a little bit of reputation.'

He also recognises that not every deal suits a particular person.

'Deals are like buses,' he says. 'There will always be another one along in a while.'