Twitter’s Founder Offers up Some Small Business Advice

Biz Stone knows what it means to be an entrepreneur. Twitter, his “side project,” is now valued in the billions. Speaking at the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference in San Francisco, Stone shared his wisdom and insight to other entrepreneurs.

“In order to succeed spectacularly, you need to be willing to fail spectacularly,” he told the audience. “That’s the entrepreneurial spirit.” He continued to tell the audience that passion alone doesn’t cut it and that success required hard work and a willingness to create opportunities out of thin air.

“Opportunity can be manufactured,” he continued. “Circumstances can be arranged by you.” Another key stressed by Stone is the need to be focused on customer service. Twitter hired their first head of customer service when there were only 16 employees and didn’t hire their first sales person until 3 years later.

“Spend a good amount of time listening to what people are saying about your brand” he advised business owners. “Look what’s being said about you before you begin to respond.” This is timely knowledge as a simple Google or Twitter search can give you a good feel for public perception of your brand.

His perhaps most important lesson for entrepreneurs is that you have to love what you are doing or else you are wasting your time.

“If I was working at a job I didn’t feel was worthwhile I wouldn’t be happy, and eventually I’d do a bad job.”

He recounted the plot of Wim Wenders’ movie Wings of Desire, in which an angel gives up his immortality just to know what it felt like to be human. The protagonist was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice – death – just to pursue his passion. Stone likened this to the path of the entrepreneur, who is willing to put everything on the line to pursue his/her passion