Lessons Learned from Mr. Bill Lyles

Written by: Maci Steinhauer

The Entrepreneur Mentor Program had the pleasure of meeting and listening to William “Bill” Lyles speak about his life and advice on being a successful entrepreneur. Mr. Lyles is the President and CEO of Lyles Diversified, a company involved in construction, real estate and development, underground pipeline and utility construction, heavy concrete and mechanical construction, as well as manufacturing of closed circuit television surveillance equipment, and agricultural manufacturing operations. In 2003 Lyles partnered with the university in creating the place many of us call home, the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

His entrepreneurial expertise is widely recognized. He sat on the Fresno Chamber of Commerce; the Advisory Council of Purdue’s School of Civil Engineering; and the Board of Directors of the Fresno Opera Association, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum, to name some of the fourteen civic and corporate positions which he held. In addition, he was a chair of the Business School advisory board and was an Entrepreneur in Residence at California State University, Fresno. In 1999, he was awarded one of the university's highest honors -- the California State University, Fresno Foundation Service Award. The award is presented to an individual who has achieved stature in his or her field of endeavor and reflects favorably on the Fresno community and the university.

Mr. Lyles gave us great advice to guide us as we begin our entrepreneurial journeys.

If you borrow money for creating a business or value added, you create wealth.If you borrow money for consumption you go into debt. Putting money into businesses you create jobs, wealth, and money left over to put towards society to make it prosperous.

Risk the branch of a tree but never the trunk.Going all in can lead to a loss and you can end up wiped out. If you just risk a branch you haven’t lost your trunk and can continue taking steps.·

Good engineering.Think long-term instead of short-term, and live within your means.

Go for base hits, not home runs.Thinking you’ll have it all at once and getting anxious, your chances of striking out are heavy.

Balance between people and capital.If you have good people with no money who make the business go, you are going to have a hard time being successful. If you have money and bad people, you are going to fail every day.·

Keeping balance in your lives.You never realize the sacrifice in your personal life when trying to achieve something.

Continue learning. The rest of your life is a learning experience even after graduation and it should never stop.

Four successes in business.Having a technical skill of something you are in; know what you are doing 2) Marketing 3) Finance 4) Personnel management. Being successful in business also means understanding the tax system and macroeconomics of the world and the country you live in.

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