If building a business is in large part a question of networks, David Warnock has a piece of advice for building them. Start more conversations with the question, “How can I help you?”
Warnock, the respected business leader frequently listed as a potential mayoral candidate, speaks on the subject with some degree of authority. A native of Michigan, he came to Baltimore in 1983 for a job with T. Rowe Price. Now he’s one of the city’s most connected executives: founder of private equity firm Camden Partners, chairman of the Greater Baltimore Committee, education reformer and philanthropist.
What this city needs most, he has said, is business growth, with more companies hiring and attracting more people. Now’s the time to do it, he said.
It wasn’t the largest group of #BIW15 — maybe 50 aspiring or first-time entrepreneurs in the back of the forthcoming Spark coworking space eager for tactical advice on running their own tech businesses. But Warnock approached their questions with a depth that conveyed his seriousness about the need for a growing generation of new business founders.
“There’s the idea and the capital, of course you need that,” he said, having left his suit jacket on a chair to address the mostly 20- and 30-somethings in the crowd. “But anyone will tell you that it comes down … to you.”
— Olga Maltseva (@suitsandsoot) October 2, 2015
In a half-hour conversation, Warnock shared at least three clear, actionable lessons for new entrepreneurs:
- Get a group of advisers you trust. He meant this for your business but also for your life. In each subject area that he confronts in business or approaches in his life, he has someone he calls for feedback and advice. It’s a network he’s built by trying to provide value too, he said.
- Have a sense of humor. Things will go wrong. If you can laugh with your team, you’ll last far longer.
- Remember that people matter more than product. A great team can make a successful business out of bad technology, but a bad team cannot make a successful business out of great technology, as summarized by event emcee Stephen Auvil of TEDCO.
The event was part of the #BIW15 Business Conference, sponsored by Camden Partners, Agora Inc., Saul Ewing, TEDCO, the Emerging Technology Centers and SmartLogic.
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