Kentucky native and distinguished professor Dr. Jack Britt spoke to students at Western Kentucky University about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how students can be entrepreneurial in their daily lives. With all of his accomplishments, leadership positions, and founded businesses, he is the epitome of an entrepreneur.
Dr. Britt is an alumni of WKU and was part of the first graduating class when the University transitioned from Western Kentucky State College to Western Kentucky University. He was also the president of his senior class at WKU.
He knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur fairly early in life. When he was only 14 years old, Dr. Britt and his twin brother started Britt’s Brother’s Holsteins. They ended up selling their herd at the end of college to attend graduate school. Additionally, Dr. Britt has been on the founding team of seven different businesses.
“Entrepreneurship is a way of life, it is not JUST starting a business,” Britt said. “It takes a long time to make the first dollar. A lot of people think you start a business and you make money immediately. But it takes a while before you actually start making money.” If someone is looking to become an entrepreneur, they have to be willing to take on these risks because that is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Dr. Britt explained that there are many successful companies in the world but at some point they had to live below their means — entrepreneurship is a process.
Building relationships is also important.
“Networking needs to start now. People you meet and engage with in college are people that will provide assistance for you in the future,” Britt said. , “One of the most important things in entrepreneurship is mentorship and mentoring. Mentorship is really entrepreneurship turned into a personal relationship between people.”
This is a point that resounded with Dr. Whitney Peake, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“Dr. Britt touched on so many important points for our students,” she said. “He really brought home the message that it is possible to be an entrepreneur in any context, and wherever you choose to be entrepreneurial, students should be seeking out mentors and mentoring others. Those are important messages for all of us to hear.”
Another important aspect of entrepreneurship is vision.
“If you have a vision of what you want your company to be like in 20 years, you will more than likely be able reach it,” Britt said. “You have to have a direct focus.” He went on to say, that having a visionary team is also helpful in the entrepreneurship realm. If you have a group of fellow visionaries you can bounce ideas off of on another and ultimately turn dreams for the company into a reality.”