"Moxie, chutzpah, hubris and lunacy" are what it takes to go into business, MCI Telecommunications Corp. Chairman William G. McGowan said Saturday at the first D.C. Area Entrepreneurship Forum at Washington's Shoreham Hotel.
McGowan was the luncheon speaker at a two-day forum sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Institute of Columbus, Ohio. Others appearing were Herbert Haft, president of Dart Drug Corp., John Hechinger, president of the Hechinger Co. and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.
Entrepreneurship Institute Chairman William McCrea said the sessions "give us the chance to bring high-potential people together with the movers and the shakers."
Mornings sessions involved a group presentation on a general topic of business life, while the afternoon offered a choice of more specialized workshops followed by discussions with specialists in various subject areas. Problems of financing, marketing, planning, advertising, and personnel were addressed by a volunteer panel of members of Washington's business and financial communities.
Hechinger emphasized what he termed the "unique marketing proposition," or "UMP," that is necessary to get started in business. "You need to find a niche that separates you from other services," he said.
He outlined a marketing program that called for demographic studies, customer attitude survey, knowledge of the competition and broad-based advertising coverage.
According to Hechinger, one of the major problems today is financing. "It doesn't matter whether you're starting a hamburger stand or a computer company. You just have to have the nerve to start off on your own."
McGowan echoed Hechinger's statement on finding a unique place. He recalled the growth of MCI from a $5-million-a-year corporation in 1975 to its current size today, when it achieves that volume every three days. "We found a need and turned it into a niche," he said.
Asked if current economic conditions make starting a new business a riskier venture, McGowan said that has "nothing to do with it. It is all up to the individual."
The financial supporters of the Entrepreneurship Forum included the D.C. Office of Business and Economic Development, Riggs National Bank, the D.C. Office of Employment Services, PepsiCo, Arthur Andersen and Co., Dart Drug Corp., Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co., Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Co., and the Entrepreneurship Institute.