Wilmington hosts business conference

    Hundreds of entrepreneurs gathered in Wilmington to learn how to turn a rough economy into a profitable opportunity.

    The Secretary of the Delaware Economic Development Office has a simple message for entrepreneurs in Delaware: “Go for it.”

    Alan Levin was one of the keynote speakers Friday at the Governor’s Entrepreneurial Business Conference held in Wilmington.

    “They don’t need to be reckless, but they need to take initiative,” said Levin, the former President and CEO of Happy Harry’s. “Taking initiative and really taking some chances makes sense at this time because, quite frankly, there’s a lot of opportunity out there today.”

    The conference, held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, gave hundreds of entrepreneurs a chance to talk about the issues, network and learn.

    Among other things, they learned the rules to running a business, according to PBF Energy Partners Chairman and CEO Thomas D. O’Malley. This past week, PBF finalized the $220 million purchase of the Delaware City refinery from Valero Energy.

    O’Malley says there are seven keys to starting, building and growing a business. First of all, he says, you need to know the business that you’re getting into.

    “Before you jump in and buy a franchise or something like that, go to work for a similar business,” he said. “Learn the business, understand it, because that’s going to teach you a great deal.”

    He says it’s also important to know your partners, understand the risk, know who you serve, treat your colleagues in a fair and straightforward manner, and cultivate financial resources.

    “You’ve got to find money,” O’Malley said of running a business. “And to find money you have to be a person who can be trusted. You have to establish trust.”

    O’Malley saved perhaps his most critical rule for last — have fun.

    “You better have some fun doing what you’re doing,” he said. “Because who wants to go through life not having a few laughs, not have fun?”

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