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Spotlight on Walden // Feb 20, 2012

Never Stop Learning: Advice From a Serial Entrepreneur

Kevin Miles’ family business, a diversified company with engineering, construction, and manufacturing divisions, dates back to 1913. Having grown up in the family business and been involved from an early age, Kevin has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. After deciding there was too much “family” in the family business, he left and started his own businesses, including an engineering and construction company and a computer manufacturing company.

Now, years later, Kevin classifies himself as a serial entrepreneur who has grown nine businesses in a variety of industries and sectors. Currently, he is CEO and managing partner of a boutique consulting firm that specializes in small and medium-sized businesses as well as president of a second corporation that invests in startup technology-driven businesses.

Kevin’s consulting business grew out of a speaking engagement at a trade organization where he was a last-minute fill-in. Business owners from the audience invited him to speak with them individually about their organizations. Many more organizations and companies approached him over the next decade to seek his entrepreneurial and business know-how. After 15 years of providing his expertise to other businesses, Kevin knew he had a pretty good foundation upon which to start his own consulting business.

Knowledge Is Power

Kevin realized there was more that he could learn and additional skills that he could gain to benefit him in his future endeavors. Continuing education was a lifelong passion of his and after receiving his second master’s degree, he realized he wanted to pursue his doctorate. In 2010, Kevin enrolled in Walden’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. He says the focus and target market of his business has expanded as a result of his studies. In addition, he has also begun plans to develop a new nonprofit organization that will work with owners of small and medium-sized businesses to help them become sustainable organizations.

Kevin believes his educational experience at Walden has been instrumental in formulating and planning for his new organization. “As a serial entrepreneur, I feel I have gained a lot of knowledge from my everyday business experiences. What’s taken that knowledge a step further is having the opportunity to exchange ideas with classmates as well as reading and writing research articles—it’s given me a better perspective. The interactions with the instructors and students have really made a difference and have helped me solve problems more creatively than I had previously.”

How to Succeed in Business

So what’s Kevin’s advice for other entrepreneurs?

  • Understand the risks of starting a business. If you aren’t comfortable with risk, reconsider entrepreneurship.
  • Develop a well-conceived and detailed plan focused on your strengths and the opportunities available.
  • Make conservative projections of the startup costs and financial aspect of your business.
  • Find a mentor or what Phil Knight, chairman of the board of Nike, refers to as a “hero”—someone to look up to who will provide direct, unbiased, and honest advice.
  • Be creative. Traditional methods don’t always work; don’t be afraid to be unconventional.
  • Be persistent and be a sponge. Seek out new information and learn from it.

To help motivated business professionals like Kevin advance their careers, Walden offers several degree programs with entrepreneurship specializations, including:

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a specialization in Entrepreneurship 

Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Entrepreneurship

BS in Political Science and Public Administration with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship