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Magic Johnson's Advice to Future Entrepreneurs: Know Your Customer

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

Entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson knew he was on to something when he realized that scones weren’t very popular in urban coffee shops.

“Many people in our community don’t quite know what scones are,”
Johnson joked during his Feb. 23 presentation at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel.

Johnson, who has owned more than 100 Starbucks coffee shops, said the point is, “You’ve got to know your customer. The thing you should understand…is I tweaked my idea to make sure it was successful in urban America,” said Johnson, whose talk was sponsored by Best Buy, Magic Johnson Enterprises and the Bonner Office of Community Service and SBAN: Leaders Developing Leaders.

Johnson also talked about his new book, "32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business."

A member of the NBA Hall of Fame after a 13-year career in professional basketball, Johnson has become one of the nation’s leading businessmen. His company has interests in 85 cities and 22 states. Johnson owns Magic Johnson Theater in southwest Atlanta and his company is constructing a residential/retail development in midtown Atlanta.

His company also leads two investment groups that manage hundreds of millions of dollars that will be developing real estate properties in urban areas.

“I gave them great returns when they said it couldn’t happen in urban America,” Johnson said. “But if we don’t do what we say we will do, then we can’t continue raising that type of money.”

Johnson shared the following advice to students looking to become business owners:

- “I make my business about the customer. You must over-deliver to that customer.”
- “You must understand how to hire people. Never hire clock watchers. Hire people who are like you.”
- “Maintain the best customer satisfaction because what you’re fighting for is retention, retention, retention.”
- “The one thing you have to do is make sure your business plan is tight. If you don’t have your business plan together, forget about it.”
- “Never worry about whether you get turned down five times or 10 times. You’ve got to keep going.”

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