Business leader Mickey Maurer offers 10 tips for entrepreneurs

By Rebecca Troyer 331-4243 |
October 6, 2011

We printed a mistake in this story. This article listed the incorrect name of the publisher of Mickey Maurer’s book, “19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women.” The book was published by Indiana University Press. The H-T regrets the error.

Addressing a packed commons area at Ivy Tech Community College’s second annual Cook Institute for Entrepreneurship, keynote speaker Mickey Maurer offered his advice for succeeding in business based on his own mistakes and triumphs.

Maurer described his decades of experience with entrepreneurial ventures, including those that did well, such as his bank, and at least one that didn’t: a chain of racquetball clubs that eventually closed because the market became saturated. While still involved in multiple businesses, Maurer has also become a major philanthropist in his native state of Indiana.

“Entrepreneurship is a game, a great game, and they keep score with money,” Maurer said. “Now I give most of it away.”

He donated $35 million to Indiana University’s Bloomington law school, which now bears his name. He is chairman of the board of The National Bank of Indianapolis, a bank he started himself. Maurer is also a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal.

Maurer offered 10 tips for would-be entrepreneurs taken from his soon-to-be-published book, “The 10 Essential Principles of Entrepreneurship You Didn’t Learn in School. They are:

• People: Hire good employees and keep them.

• Barriers to entry: Invest in a high-barrier business — a business that is difficult to get into — because prices are higher and competition is lower.

• Mentorship: Find people who can share what they’ve learned and offer feedback on ideas and strategies.

• Rely on your gut: Get advice from lawyers, accountants and mentors, but make the decisions yourself.

• Mind your manners: Return phone calls and treat people with civility.

• Control: Make sure you have a majority interest in the venture. “If you have a minority interest in a closely held corporation, you are lower than a snake’s belly,” Maurer said.

• Quality of life: When making a decision about going into business, ask how it will affect the quality of your life.

• Pace, discipline and focus: When it comes to business, timing and staging of actions are important.

• Giving back: Offer your time and talents to the communities in which you work. Maurer described his “Mickey’s Camp,” a summer program where prospective donors pool their funds — this past summer $250,000 was raised — and select recipient charities.

• Know when to fold: It’s important to learn when to invest, but it’s also important to learn when to sell out.

Maurer has written two books about Hoosiers who have made significant contributions to our state, “19 Stars of Indiana,” published by the Indiana Historical Society. One volume features 19 men; the other, 19 women. Among those profiled are Bloomington’s David Baker, William Cook, Angelo Pizzo and Sylvia McNair, along with Helmsburg’s Sharon Rivenbark, owner of For Bare Feet.

Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech

The Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, founded last year through a birthday gift from Steve and Connie Ferguson to the late Bill Cook, serves Ivy Tech students, individuals who seek business advice, and the overall community.

So far this year, the center has assisted 75 people who have come in for assistance with business ideas and start-ups, according to center director Steve Bryant.

Ivy Tech has also created five new courses in entrepreneurship that cover marketing, venture growth, financial management, taxes and finance and business development.

For more information, visit or call 330-6261.

Michael “Mickey” Maurer, IU donor and law school alumnus. Courtesy photo

Copyright: 2011

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.