“Capitalist with a heart” Brett Wilson’s advice to entrepreneurs just starting out? Study.

The chairman of Prairie Merchant and former CBC Dragon says there are three key things every entrepreneur needs to study continuously:

  1. Marketing. “You can build it, you can make it, you can provide the service. But if you can’t do all of the above at a profit, you still don’t have a business,” says Wilson. “I always call marketing your ‘point of differentiation’: Why is somebody going to choose you over someone else?” Did you know that a business card has six sides? According to Wilson, once you’ve done your homework, you will. You’ll also know what “post-purchase dissonance” means; you’ll understand the value of a distinctive logo and brand and the goodwill associated with the quality of your relationships. “Those are all marketing moments,” says Wilson.
  2. Entrepreneurship. “I don’t mean the skills; I mean the values,” clarifies Wilson, who suggests that every young go-getter make a point of studying some of the great iconic entrepreneurs, as well as young entrepreneurs who have made it the hard way.
  3. Philanthropy. “There is a socially responsible way of raising money for charity and, at the same time, benefiting your company’s bottom line,” insists Wilson.

More advice from Brett Wilson

In the early days, when Wilson and his partners were launching First Energy Capital, he followed his own advice. The result? Investor and employee buy-in. “We could fire people and they would say, ‘Thank you for letting us be part of this experience,’” says Wilson.

For more of Wilson’s advice on getting through the growing pains when launching a new venture, listen to this week’s PROFIT BusinessCast.

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