TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Professional angler Jimmy Houston delivered the Battenfield-Carletti Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture on Feb. 13 in the auditorium of the W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center at Northeastern State University.
A 1966 Northeastern alumnus, Houston told a capacity crowd he wished to discuss the traits he believes are universally present in successful entrepreneurs.
"I figure not many of you plan to fish professionally for a living," Houston said. "If you can do it, it certainly pays well – many make six figures annually and a few make seven figures. But like professional baseball or the NBA, only a tiny percentage make it to that level."
Along with tour fishing, Houston's ventures include the long-running ESPN program Jimmy Houston Outdoors and Jimmy Houston Adventures which has appeared on several broadcast networks.
He has also authored five books. While all are about fishing, his titles Hooked for Life, The Reel Line and Catch of the Day are inspirational, devotional and spiritual.
Houston cited faith and charity, through donations or tithing, as the most significant elements of his entrepreneurial structure.
"I believe a strong relationship with God is important," he said. "I'm not saying you can't succeed in business without it. Many have. I'm simply saying I would not run a business, live within a marriage, raise kids and grandkids without a personal, everyday relationship with my Creator."
Integrity was named the second most important entrepreneurial trait by Houston – calling it "your brand."
"It is one of the most important things to use," he said. "No matter what you decide to do, there are other people already doing it. Integrity is unique to you and precious. Don't lie, stretch the truth or embellish. Walk the straight and narrow, though it can be difficult sometimes."
Other pointers suggested by Houston included knowing and outworking your competition but not criticizing it, attaching one's name to the business, being friendly and accessible, and skillfully communicating with all facets of the business model.
Houston also said it was important to the health of a venture to allocate funds for marketing and growing one's business – and to invest outside it.
"In 2009, our television shows lost $600,000," he said. "If not for the money we set aside in separate investments, we would have been out of business. Everything would have been gone. Rainy days will come, and investments can keep you viable."
Established in 2002 through the NSU Foundation by Dr. Harold Battenfield and Dr. John Carletti, the Battenfield-Carletti Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture Series invites NSU alumni to campus to share their entrepreneurial experiences with students.
Published: 2/14/2013 12:32:30 PM