LeRoy Edwards, the founder and CEO of electrical contracting company GL Edwards Electric, challenged BYU-Hawaii students to innovate business ideas by taking risks and overcome their fear of making mistakes on Oct. 19.
Speaking at the Entrepreneurship Lecture Series (ENTR 375R), Edwards explained his own personal experience with taking risks and overcoming fear, relating his story of when he and his wife first started their company and the concerns they felt. “When my wife and I first decided to start our electrical contracting company, it was scary because I was leaving a set income that we used to pay our set bills. But as we took that step of faith, it led to huge increases.”
Edwards said there is a need for students and starting entrepreneurs to overcome their fear of failure. “Don’t be afraid to step out of the norm. Don’t be afraid to disrupt something.
“Ninety-five percent of businesses fail in the first 5-7 years of their founding,” Edwards explained, highlighting the risks that can be involved in starting a company. However, the cause of these business failures is companies lack of understanding of three fundamental management necessities. He said these necessities are the ability to manage oneself, one’s money, and other people.
Not only are these qualities necessary for business, but also are key for having a successful life in general, warned Edwards.
“If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always gotten,” said Edwards. He explained the key to business is innovation–changing the way an existing industry is delivered, making it simpler, more accessible, and more affordable.
Edwards used the example of Uber, a company he said has revolutionized and disrupted the Taxi industry. By making their transportation simpler, more accessible, and affordable than a traditional taxi, “Uber now makes more annually than the whole taxi industry combined.”
In contrast, Edwards shared the experience of Blockbuster, a multimillion-dollar company that went bankrupt because of their inability to change and be more innovative. “Blockbuster saw the digital age coming but was unwilling to let go of all that they had invested in their stores and product. As a result, Blockbuster was taken over by a much smaller company who was willing to take advantage of innovation: Netflix.”
Elder Douglas Speirs, a missionary called to help facilitate the entrepreneur lecture series, explained the purpose of the lecture series is “to open students minds to the possibilities.”
Speirs explained their goal in exposing students to the outside world. “Students are in a bubble and don’t get a full understanding of what it takes to succeed in the real world from simply classes.”
Sarah Hall, a freshman from Utah with an undecided major, explained how the entrepreneur lecture series has helped her to recognize the importance of faith and prayer in all things, including business ventures.