Sherman Burnett ’08 recently returned to campus to speak with business students about being an entrepreneur. The event was part of the Society for the Advancement of Management (SAM) Lecture Series.
“I knew going into my first job after college that I wanted to own my own business,” Burnett said. “I knew even coming out of college that I wanted to be a business owner.”
Always Keep Learning
Burnett began his career with Enterprise Holdings after earning a business management degree. He moved up the ranks with Enterprise and later with Automatic Data Processing but never let go of the dream of owning his own business.
Even while in corporate America, Burnett says he made it a point to learn as much as he could to prepare himself to be an entrepreneur one day. He earned certifications that could help him later and also learned the value of keeping a positive mindset, even during tough times.
During his talk, Burnett told students not to be afraid of failure. Although successful now, Burnett says not all of the business ideas he tried after PC worked out well.
“A lot of times you can learn more from what fails than what succeeds,” he said.
How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur
Burnett shared tips on what has made him a successful entrepreneur. The former Blue Hose football player currently manages two successful small businesses. And, in 2017, he left the corporate world to become one of the most successful realtors in Augusta, Ga. Earlier this year, Burnett was voted among the top three of 1500 realtors in Augusta.
Burnett says his success in real estate comes from staying curious about his field.
“Real estate is what I specialize in,” Burnett said. “I do a good bit of research, and I do lots of training because I want to be an expert in the field.”
Burnett told the students that being an entrepreneur requires deciding when to be a generalist (as he is with his two small businesses) and when to be a specialist (as Burnett is with real estate).
“Personally, I don’t think you can put your all in and be a specialist too if you’re running more than two small businesses at a time,” he said.
Burnett advised students to specialize in one and be a generalist in the others. He also passed along the importance of delegating responsibilities, establishing good credit and valuing your time.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Burnett says he undervalued his time when he first became a realtor. He always offered to show houses when potential customers asked, often sacrificing family time.
“It was just too much,” he said. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’
“Really value your time. I had to take a step back and be intentional about when to schedule showings.
“And I noticed that when customers saw that I valued my time, they valued my time.”
Burnett ended his SAM talk with wise words for the business students looking to become entrepreneurs.
“Look for opportunity. Look for needs,” he said. “Always think about what’s next and the position you want to put yourself in.”
From PC to the Business World
Alumni like Sherman Burnett return to campus throughout the year to share their experiences with students during the Society for the Advancement of Management Lecture Series. Sherman was a member of SAM when he was a PC student.
Please visit Society for the Advancement of Managementto learn more about how the organization prepares students for the business world.