Business maverick and author of Business is a Contact Sport, Augusto “Gus” Vidaurreta has launched successful companies in a variety of industries. Now he’s bringing his 36 years of experience to his latest venture, Top Secret Nutrition, a nutritional-supplements business. Despite having no experience in the nutrition industry, he shares how he’s leading his company on a clear trajectory to success.
If you want to be an entrepreneur because you think it means you get to be your own boss, you either need to take that thought out of your head or take a different path. When you’re an entrepreneur, everyone is your boss—your employees, your vendors, your partners—everyone, and you are completely dependent on these relationships.
When you’re thinking of how to be successful on your own, you need to look for a niche where you can add special value—and just do it. You can’t be afraid to take a risk or to jump in feet first. Adding value and creating something from nothing—that’s an entrepreneur.
One of the secrets to my success is that I’ve had the same business partner for 28 years. Being an entrepreneur is like being on a bicycle team: you can ride by yourself, but when the wind begins hitting you, you’re going to get really tired and there’s no one else to depend on. When you have teammates, you can take turns; you have someone to see the things you can’t; you can lean on each other. When choosing a business partner, however, you have to make sure your visions align; you have to be on the same page. Ethically, you have to be in sync. I can’t tell you how critical that is.
The premise of Business is a Contact Sport is relationship asset management. Relationships are the most important asset you own, and I’m not just talking about your current customers. When you’re an entrepreneur, everyone is a potential stakeholder in your success. Because of this, you have to make sure your relationship universe is populated and that you’re exchanging value in those relationships, meaning you have something to offer them and they have something to offer you. Every person in your life, no matter what capacity you know them in, is a key business relationship for you—that includes friends. I was once speaking at a university, and I asked the students, “Do you think it’s good to do business with friends?” Almost all of them said no, but I would argue you only do business with friends because if you conduct your business correctly, everyone becomes a friend.
I always look for opportunities, no matter what the industry. I sold my first company for $30 million and I used that money to start other companies, which I also sold for millions of dollars. Some were in the tech industry, but I’ve also owned stakes in a plastics company, real estate, a bank, three hotels, and now I’m in the business of selling nutritional supplements because it is a segmented industry that’s growing internationally.
I’m 58 and I have 36 years of experience. If you know a lot about business like I do, and when you learn industries as quickly as I do, you can go into any industry. What I know about business takes other people years to learn, but what others know about industries takes me months to learn. Always remember: the specifics of the industry matter less than your business acumen and your capacity to learn.