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Whitehurst says entrepreneurship more important than ever


Bruce Whitehurst, president of the Virginia Bankers Association, said entrepreneurship is a fundamental part of the United States and must be talked about, studied and supported as much as possible.


Whitehurst, a resident of Glen Allen, Va., shared his thoughts about the importance of entrepreneurship in a Nov. 18 address before dozens of UVa-Wise students and business and community leaders who gathered in the David J. Prior Convocation Center. The event was part of the Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill Lecture in Entrepreneurship Series. The lecture fund was created by Dr. Donald Caudill of Bolling Springs, N.C. in honor and memory of his parents, Alfred and Shirley Wampler Caudill.


The lecture focused on the variety of ways that visionaries have profited by taking a good idea and turned it into a successful business. Whitehurst highlighted the work by well-known entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and success stories from Mark Zuckerberg and Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty to show how persistence and hard work can turn unique ideas into a profitable business.


“There are so many ideas,” Whitehurst said. “Even the dumb and silly ones can turn out to be good.”


Technology has changed entrepreneurship by creating more ways to do business electronically, Whitehurst told the crowd. Craigslist, EBay and social media have changed business in many ways, he said.


“Technology has really transformed entrepreneurship because we can work from anywhere,” Whitehurst said.


Many companies now share a single space for business in various centers created to allow companies to share equipment and other items. Social media makes it easy to get the word out, which means a business can go viral overnight, he said.


Whitehurst said it is never too early to teach youngsters about entrepreneurship. Many programs now introduce the entrepreneurship concept in elementary, and then follow with more detailed lessons in middle and high school, he said.


Statistics show that 80 percent of new businesses fail because of financial management issues, Whitehurst explained. Would be business owners must understand how to manage a company and how to deal with operating costs, he added.


“I would encourage them to get to know a banker,” he said. “Bankers are not only a great resource, a source of credit and tend to be very well connected, and that makes them a good resource. We want to help you succeed.”


Whitehurst urged would-be entrepreneurs to remember that the more research they do, the better the chance of success.


“Be ambitious and optimistic, but also embrace the worst case scenario,” Whitehurst said. “Or free enterprise system was build on entrepreneurship. It is more important than ever to embrace entrepreneurship. We need these imaginative people who can see the things we cannot see.”