ASU Spirit of Enterprise Awards

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Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center for ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business, talks about the 15th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards honoring some of Arizona’s top entrepreneurs.

Ted Simons: Earlier today ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business honored some of adds's top companies at the school's annual spirit of enterprise awards. Here to tell us what sets these businesses apart in this tough economic climate is Gary Naumann, he's director of the spirit of enterprise center at ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Gary Naumann: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Ted Simons: Spirit of enterprise awards, what are we talking about?

Gary Naumann: 10 companies that have made it through a very long process, where we start almost a year ago and we take applications, we get nominees, take indications, anywhere -- applications, they have to decide are they going through this process of actually filling out the application, while they're trying to run their businesses, and answering these ESSAY questions, what are your core strategies, what drives your business, what have you common terms of customer service? Lou do you treat your employees? How do you give back to the community? We put them throughout rigors and at the end of that rigor, we come up with 40, 50 applications and out of those we start deciding who's going to make it to the 10 finalists of spirit enterprise finalists.

Ted Simons: Some of your finalists, everything from an air ambulance to Ollie the trolley to a fiber optic engineering firm. All sorts of things.

Gary Naumann: And we don't go for specific categories. We don't say, give us one of these and two of these. We want -- we try to decide who of that group represent our 10 best finalists and out of that we carve it down to five winners.

Ted Simons: You mentioned some of the essay questions, but what is really being recognized here?

Gary Naumann: It's one of our tag lines if you will, celebrating ethics, energy, and excellence in entrepreneurship. It's not just a series of parameters, how many people do you have, or how fast have you grown, or what's the year over year growth in profits? We're trying to find great stories. That's what the spirit of enterprise is all B give us some great stories that we can use to profile ethics, energy, and excellence in entrepreneurship.

Ted Simons: Obviously there are still great stories, but I'm guessing some are harder to find because of the economy. Talk about the challenges right now, especially for small businesses, in Arizona, around the country, some of the things, some of the hoops and hurdles folks are having to go through.

Gary Naumann: What you find with a lot of small businesses is really time is such a constraint. They don't have the luxury of saying, I think I'll go out and think about my business for the next couple months and then take action on that. Most small businesses are in the position of saying, I need to work in my business every day so I don't have as much time to work on my business. Obviously one of the important things for them to do is step back and say, what I do need to do differently today than I did six months or a year or two years ago, what's changed? Do I have a heightened awareness of what's going on? How do I move to the next step? That's hard to do, especially when you're putting in the long hours, one of the things I tell my students in my entrepreneurship courses, the beauty of entrepreneurship is you decide which 80 hours of the week you get to work. And they say, OK, I get it.

Ted Simons: Is Arizona different? Obviously we got hit hard --

Gary Naumann: We got hit very hard.

Ted Simons: Small business --

Gary Naumann: A little tougher here, because we are in the position of, we've had some very good years. And now we've had four going on five pretty tough years, and so not all parts of the country went up as fast as we did. We had a period of great growth, and all of a sudden -- so to the faster you go the harder it is when you slow down. That's what we're looking at here. We've got special challenges, but it will be back.

Ted Simons: Last question, biggest reason a small business succeeds, biggest reason a small business fails. You got about a minute.

Gary Naumann: If I had to say the biggest reason business is people actually understand and know their business. You can't not pay attention to that detail. The biggest reason they succeed is they've chosen something they're very passionate about, and it's no holds barred. Other going after it every day, what can I do next to make this thing grow?

Ted Simons: And failure --

Gary Naumann: Failure is people that say, people that say I'm waiting for something to happen for me. You can't wait. Snob going to come along and bail you out. You've got to say, what am I going to do tomorrow to fix this? If you don't, you're going to be gone.

Ted Simons: Gary, it's good to have you here.

Gary Naumann: Thank you very much, Ted. Pleasure.

Ted Simons: Tomorrow on "Horizon," election day results and analysis. We'll look at the Phoenix mayoral race, and the historic recall election involving senate president Russell Pearce. That's Wednesday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

Ted Simons: If you want to check us out on the web,

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Gary Naumann:Director, Spirit of Enterprise Center, ASU W.P Carey School of Business;

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