here’s just something about business success stories that fire the imagination and inspire would-be entrepreneurs to launch ventures. There’s nothing better, in fact, than tales of how luck and pluck carry entrepreneurs and their businesses from rags to riches. They stories are so compelling because they offer hope others can similarly turn good ideas and hard work into profitable enterprises.
As founder and former chairman of Discovery Communications, John Hendricks has an incredible success story to tell and does so well when he has the opportunity. Hendricks made the most of that opportunity at the latest Entrepreneurship Day luncheon at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction in recounting the origin and success of the Discovery Channel and sharing his advice.
Hendricks traces the origin of many successful business ventures, including his own, to the moment when an entrepreneur poses a key question or confronts a problem. Driven by curiosity and a passion that borders on obsession, entrepreneurs answer those questions and solve those problems in turning daydreams into reality.
For Hendricks, that moment occurred when he was a student at the University of Alabama. As part of work study job, he ordered documentary films for professors to show in classes. Hendricks wondered why those same films couldn’t be broadcast on television to a much larger audience.
Hendricks subsequently launched the Discovery Channel. What started out as one channel with 156,000 subscribers in the United States grew to an operation with nearly 50 brands reaching a total of more than 2.5 billion subscribers in 220 countries. Here in Mesa County, Hendricks also developed the Gateway Canyon Resort near Gateway. Not bad.
Hendricks attributed his success and the success of other entrepreneurs to some shared traits, among them curiosity and passion, but also a willingness to listen to daydreams, the ability to visualize success and the confidence to proceed.
Part of Hendricks’ tale was also cautionary, though, in recounting the effects of government regulations on entrepreneurism — what was initially a prohibition against cable television companies from broadcasting original content, regulations limiting potential investors in his startup and the more general implications of tax rates on the availability of discretionary dollars for capital investments.
The moral of Hendricks’ story is that business stories can have happy endings — incredible endings, in fact — for those driven to provide better products and services. But there’s also the warning that government regulations can present challenges along the way. Here’s hoping there a lot more business success stories to tell and a lot more entrepreneurs to tell them.