COLUMBIA – Radio host, financial author, and motivational speaker Dave Ramsey offered tips on running small businesses through the EntreLeadership one-day seminar Friday.
The seminar took place in Nashville, Tenn., but was simultaneously broadcast in cities across the U.S., including Columbia. Local businesses attended the broadcast at Woodcrest Chapel, which was organized by Columbia Chamber of Commerce Small Business Committee.
EntreLeadership, a combination of entrepreneurship and leadership, is a word coined by Ramsey. It refers to the ability to inspire and unify a team, according to Ramsey's book “EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches,” a New York Times bestseller.
Ramsey spoke about his experience of growing his business from a card table in his living room to a multimillion dollar company.
In running a business, the team and the culture a leader creates are things that matter most, Ramsey said. He also offered tips such as "hire slow and fire fast," meaning employers should seek the best employees, not just bodies working in the office.
Ramsey's main point was that individuals and corporations should attain "financial peace," which means being debt-free. This theme runs through many of his radio shows, his Financial Peace University and his books.
Ramsey’s first company, Ramsey Investments, quickly earned $4 million by the time he was 26 years old. But the business received a fatal blow when Ramsey’s major creditor was sold to a big bank. The bank asked Ramsey to pay $1.2 million worth of short-term notes within 90 days. He had to file for bankruptcy.
The incident forced Ramsey to reflect on how to finance a business. He found running a business debt free is a key to success. When a business runs without much borrowing, it runs sustainably and enjoys more freedom in deciding how to develop.
The debt free idea struck a chord in Jeff Radmer, a senior real estate specialist at Reece & Nichols Realtor. Radmer is a big proponent of Ramsey and has attended and led some of Ramsey's financial peace classes in Columbia.
“One should live within his means," Radmer said. "If a business can’t sustain financially, it will eventually be out of business.”
For many attendees, the biggest takeaway is what Ramsey said about focusing on the big picture.
Lili Vianello, owner of Visionworks Marketing Group, said the most important message she got is to think about why she’s doing what she’s doing.
“Dave Ramsey reminds me of thinking what is the purpose of my business. We’re delivering advertisements, for sure, but what is the higher purpose? Or is there a higher purpose?” she said.
Vianello took pages of notes, and said she would take this question to her staff meeting.
“This is something you should continuously ask yourself, otherwise you’ll get lost in day-to-day minutia,” she said.
Julie Walden, CEO of Boone Supported Living, a company that provides service to people with disabilities, said she had already known a lot of what Ramsey said. But, she said it was a good reminder to focus on the big picture, such as the growth and the quality of the service and not just the day-to-day to-do lists.
About 60 people showed up for the broadcast event. Carolyn Paris, co-chair of the Small Business Committee and Assistant Vice President of Callaway Bank, said that entrepreneurship is gaining momentum in Columbia. This momentum was demonstrated by the enthusiastic response to Ramsey's message.
“In part because of the anchors of the University of Missouri, the healthcare industry and the insurance companies, Columbia’s small businesses are less vulnerable to the highs and lows of the national economy,” Paris said.
She also said it is individual's passion that makes businesses successful.
“It’s the ability and desire to chart one’s own course that makes entrepreneurship thrive in Columbia,” she said.
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