Throughout his life Ted Turner has not only taken the right risks to put him in the right situations to succeed but he has exemplified an attitude and characteristics that make him someone all entrepreneurs alike can learn from. Ted Turners success can be partially credited to his earliest working experience. At the age of nine his father purchased a small billboard advertising agency in Savannah, Georgia. It was with this company that Turner would leave his first footprint in the business world.
More importantly, it was with this company Turner learned what it took, he learned this company from the ground up, inside and out, everything from the maintenance of the facility, to the companys finances. This is an important lesson for all entrepreneurs, in order to run a successful business venture; one must learn every aspect of the business. What Turner took away was to never ask someone to do something that he himself would be unwilling to do, one of the most important behaviors of any good leader. After his father committed suicide, Turner was thrown the reins of his familys struggling billboard company at the age of 24.
In debt and dealing with a family tragedy, Turner was forced to adapt and overcome. He began working day and night, and even offered discounts to customers who paid on time, in order to acquire money at a faster rate. This shows that Turner was not only flexible, but he was willing to do whatever it took to see his company succeed. That it did, by 1970 Turner Advertising was the largest billboard company in the Southeast, but he saw more and more people allocating money towards radio and television advertising rather than billboards.
Turner did not take this as bad news, but rather new information, and turned this threat into an opportunity. With a change in technology (the use of Ultra-High Frequencies) a great opportunity in broadcasting became apparent to Turner. Although viewed as risky and ill-advised, Turner went ahead and purchased a failing UHF channel and called it WTCG, a second station was soon added. Moving ahead at a fast pace, Turner never looked back, and always acted with a sense of urgency when it came to developing the next best thing in broadcasting. He began purchasing rights to old movies and sitcoms and broadcasted them on his channels.
In 1975 Turner became the first person to rent a satellite channel from RCA, and began broadcasting his channels all over the country. Like any great entrepreneur, Turner was always on the move, and always diversifying his portfolio. In 1977 his returns from his channels were so great he purchased both the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks, and soon began broadcasting their games live. With the combination of old movies, sitcoms, and live sports, Turner dubbed his station WTBS the first superstation. Turners most notable business venture came about in the 1980s, the first 24 hour cable news network, CNN.
Once again faced with a great deal of criticism, Turner was determined to see his vision come true, come heck or high water (Turner). Although he struggled with CNN, he was able to persevere and by 1985 CNN became profitable, and he had succeeded in providing the American people with the first 24 hr news service. He soon expanded his brand line and added CNN Headline News, CNN Radio, and CNN International. One of Turners greatest accomplishments in the broadcasting radio was the use of flyaway dishes, which were portable satellite dishes brought to sites in order to transmit a live news feed.
Aside from business Turner faced life with the same never back down mentality. The greatest instance of Turner exemplifying this attitude was during the 1979 Fastnet Regatta. 302 boats had entered the race, but a bad storm hit mid race. Boats were capsized and lives were lost, but Turner refused to give up. Whether it was a personal or family tragedy, a tough business decision, or even sailboat racing, Turner approached everything he did with a sense of toughness, resilience, and a sense of urgency, and above all he always believe.