Advice for First-Time Business Owners

Art J. Samberg founded the first Pequot hedge fund in 1986. From there, he went on to become something of a legend in the investment space. Columbia Business School, his alma mater, opened the Arthur J. Samberg Institute for Teaching Excellence in recognition of generous donations he made in 2002 and 2006. Today, Art Samberg presently manages Hawkes Financial Services LLC, his family office.

First-time business owners tend to suffer from overzealousness; after identifying an opportunity, they rush in, determined to make it work. Unfortunately, most of these business owners fail to capitalize on such opportunities; they saw only the opportunity without fully understanding the area in which it lay. Never build a business on a foundation of trendiness or prospective profits. Entrepreneurs should set out to innovate or add to an industry they know intimately.

Prepare a business plan, but be ready to put out fires. No plan can account for every eventuality. Oftentimes, the difference between good and great business owners comes down to how they react in the face of unforeseen chaos.

Inevitably, first-time business owners will cross paths with an investor. Prepare for these once-in-a-lifetime encounters by formulating an elevator pitch, a 30-seconds-or-less explanation of the business or product they have to offer and why it will change the world. A good pitch should also encompass the business’ objectives and how the owner intends to go about achieving them.


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