Mitch Bettis

The Mind of an Entrepreneur

Mitch Bettis Publisher's Note

The Mind of an Entrepreneur

One of the joys of working at Arkansas Business is that we spend a significant amount of time with some of the state’s great entrepreneurs.

There are those who believe entrepreneurs can be created. They will often say the fires of business building can be stoked in an academic environment or cultivated through intense internship experiences.

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Even though I’m all for classroom experience, years of being around entrepreneurs lead me to believe the great ones are simply wired differently than most people.

Having an appetite for risk-taking and the ability to doggedly pursue a singular vision aren’t commonplace traits. Entrepreneurs are different — they are builders, they have vision and even though they realize failure is an option, they remain undeterred.

When my wife and I bought a newspaper in Colorado in 2001, everyone around us seemed to ask the same question over and over: What’s it like owning your own business? I would usually say it’s a bit like standing at the end of a long, skinny branch on a tree and not being sure if the branch is going to break.

When friends would ask if I thought they should start or buy a business, my only advice was that you better be willing to sacrifice every security you have and be “all in” because there are going to be days when things aren’t going well, payroll is looming, the bank account is thin and you feel stuck in quicksand. You must be able to summon strength from somewhere.

Entrepreneurs seem to find a thrill in calculated risk-taking, and they are — more than others — willing to stare the possibility of failure in the eye and find a way to march past.

On Oct. 24, Arkansas Business, in partnership with the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is hosting another Power Breakfast executive panel where Johnny Allison, chairman and co-founder of Home BancShares Inc. of Conway, Cameron Smith, president and founder of Cameron Smith & Associates of Rogers, and Georgia Mjartan, executive director of Our House of Little Rock, will share their experiences building successful and pioneering organizations.

These three have successfully navigated the pitfalls that seem to bedevil other would-be entrepreneurs. That doesn’t mean every step they have taken along the way was easy. In fact, there were failures and challenges that seemed insurmountable at times.

Having spent time with the three of them in preparation for the upcoming Q&A session, I have become convinced that each of these entrepreneurs share several key principles and strategies.

Craft a clear picture of where you are going. All three leaders identify the need to develop a compelling picture in their own minds of what their organizations should be and then tirelessly drive toward that vision. However, doing that and assembling a team that shares in that vision is no easy task.

Make your company different from others. These leaders have made a point in crafting a business — even one that seems as routine as banking — that is distinctive from others in the marketplace. There are a lot of banks, executive recruiting firms and nonprofits out there. These three leaders have found a way to chart a path that breaks from the clutter of the mundane.

You can’t win alone. All three of these leaders have focused on mobilizing a team of professionals who have bought into the vision of the company. What was fascinating to me is how each of them goes about identifying team members who share the same work ethic, integrity and vision needed to grow a company and build a defining culture.

At the Oct. 24 event, they will address each of these issues in depth. If any of you ever wondered what it takes to build a successful company, listening to these three tell their stories will be inspiring. Their perspectives range from the thorough, strategic risk-taker to full-time evangelist. You don’t want to miss this program.

We’ll include time for audience interaction, so prepare your own questions for these gifted leaders.

To learn more about the event, visit

Mitch Bettis is president of Arkansas Business Publishing Group and publisher of Arkansas Business. Email him at