9 Need-to-Know Tips from Top CEOs for New Entrepreneurs

The Black Enterprise Intelligent Performers are top CEOs and leading corporate executives who have used hard work, innovation, business savvy and a hunger for excellence to achieve wealth, influence and power. These business leaders, including the CEOs of companies on the BE 100s lists of the nation’s largest black-owned companies, have discovered and applied proven wisdom to achieve their success. Here, each shares principles you can practice to achieve your own business and professional goals.

Janice Bryant Howroyd, CEO, Act 1 Group, America’s largest black female-owned company: “If you’re running a small business, meaning with revenues of under $500,000, hire talent for talent–the best talent. Get your one good one instead of five who just might make it.”

Charles H. James III, fourth generation entrepreneur and CEO of C.H. James & Co.: “You should never go straight into a family business. Build your reputation at another firm first.”

Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., CEO, Black Enterprise: “Real wealth is when you have enough money to set some aside to cool for a generation.”

R. Donahue Peebles, CEO, The Peebles Corporation and author of The Peebles Principles: Tales and Tactics from an Entrepreneur’s Life of Winning Deals, Succeeding in Business, and Creating a Fortune from Scratch: “Having relationships and access to relationships is much more valuable than capital.”

Earl Graves Sr., Founder, Chairman and Publisher, Black Enterprise: “Do not strive to be impressive; instead, try to leave a positive impression. These are not the same thing. Far too many networking neophytes come bearing their diplomas and wall plaques.”

James: “If you don’t know when to change your business formula, that is when you’ll be replaced by the competition.”

Earl Graves Sr.: “To have a successful career, you have to approach it as an entrepreneur, even if you are working for someone else. Your career is your own private business. You have to market yourself and your abilities and knowledge just as you would a product or service.”

Hip-hop music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons, CEO of Rush Communications: “Every time I go into a new venture, I find a ‘rabbi’ who has the business acumen to help me understand the mechanics of that industry, the costs involved in developing a product, and what you need to do in order to make a profit.”

Peebles: “I didn’t start off with a college education. I didn’t start off with a family business. If I can create a great business and have a lot of fun doing it, then anybody can do it. There really is no excuse as an entrepreneur not to succeed if that’s what you choose to do.”

Want a chance to pick the brains of top CEOs like Peebles, James and Howroyd face-to-face? Just submit a brief story about yourself or someone you know whom you view as an Intelligent Performer. The stories our editors deem to be the most aligned with their definition of an Intelligent Performer will be featured on BlackEnterprise.com. In addition, entrants will be eligible to win the following valuable opportunities to advance their business and professional objectives:

Grand Prize: One entrant will win an all-expense-paid trip to the Porsche Sport Driving School in Leeds, Alabama, where they will enjoy the Porsche high-performance driving course package and experience two days of networking at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. Among the Intelligent Performers confirmed for the event are BE 100s CEOs and leaders among Black Enterprise 100 Most Power Executives in Corporate America, including Earl “Butch” Graves, Walmart Stores Division President Rosalind Brewer, R. Donahue Peebles and Xerox Corp. U.S Solutions President Kevin Warren. The power-networking agenda, set for November 15-17, 2010, will also be attended by VIP guests such as entertainers Ne-Yo and D-Nice.

Other Prizes: Two entrants will be selected for complimentary registrations to the 2011 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference in Atlanta. The Entrepreneurs Conference is the nation’s largest annual gathering of entrepreneurs, with more than 1,000 established and aspiring business owners in attendance.

Four entrants will win power lunches with Black Enterprise Editor-in-Chief Derek Dingle and BlackEnterprise.com Editor-in-Chief Alfred Edmond Jr., a valuable chance to gain business insights and valuable professional advice from two of the nations leading business experts.

All entrants will be eligible to be profiled by BlackEnterprise.com, an invaluable opportunity to promote your business or raise your career profile.

ENTER NOW for an exclusive opportunity to network with the Intelligent Performers and be profiled by BlackEnterprise.com.