This post is a follow-up to the original post, Find Your Inner Entrepreneur: The Day I Stopped Asking “What If” that was published by Steve Murphy to Get Busy Media on March 29, 2011
Entrepreneurship is a tricky word. I feel like everyone wants to call themselves an entrepreneur these days, myself included. People love self promotion and self aggrandizement. The guy on the bus turns to me, “I have an idea, yessir…I’m turning this insert idea here into a business.” An idea turns into a wireframe which turns into a half-baked website which then turns into a few dollars. Next thing you know, Rick down the street is touting his entrepreneurial chops and instincts.
I read a great op-ed last month from Norm Brodsky in the March issue of Inc magazine. In his post, Norm asserts that nine out of ten “entrepreneurs” he meets today are starting web-based businesses, “They’re launching websites because they think it’s easier, less expensive and less risky than starting a traditional business…” With these types of businesses, the “survival” instinct innate to entrepreneurs is completely removed from the equation. He goes on to say that most of those starting web-based businesses are doing so “on the side.” In other words, they’re working 50+ hours a week at their day job, while pursuing this “interest on the side.” What if your side business doesn’t bring in customers for three straight weeks? Well, that’s ok since that person is bringing in money through their “day job.” There’s no sense of survival or urgency here and thus, this “idea” is stunted even before it has a chance to develop.
I know I am like so many other 20-somethings out there. We all want to take our ideas, water, cultivate them and see this idea grow into a robust business. We look at entrepreneurship as glamorous, glitzy and as a road less traveled, albeit a road filled with potential potholes and bumps. We crave the autonomy and the freedom…but we can’t seem to pull the trigger.
I have always felt the pull of entrepreneurship and been drawn to those who think a bit off the beaten path. In high school, I was always fascinated by the kid who sat in the corner devouring another J.R.R. Tolkien novel or by the oddball in class who couldn’t sit still for five minutes but who could play a ridiculous electric guitar on the weekends. I thrived off starting my own businesses as a kid, whether it was a landscaping, car detailing business or juggling six families to babysit at a time. I loved getting new clients and making my customers happy. I knew from a very young age that entrepreneurship would be a good fit for me.
Some of the best advice I have ever received in life was from my father. I’ll never forget the words of advice he dispensed to me a week before my freshman year of high school. He leaned over in the car and told me, “Jimmy, surround yourself with good people and smarter people than yourself and you will go far.” I have always treated these words as gold and strove to do this in all facets of my life. The fact remains that those you surround yourself with influence you and shape you, especially at a young age.
You might ask, what does any of this have to do with entrepreneurship? My answer: these are the building blocks of entrepreneurship. Find what you love and cultivate this idea. Surround yourself with supporters, but supporters who will smartly critique and deconstruct your idea. You don’t need cheerleaders, you want coaches. You want a team that will push you and complement your skill set. You want that oddball in class; you want that guy who knows everything about J.R.R. Tolkien.
I have learned in my limited experience as an “entrepreneur” that not everyone’s brain is wired to be proficient at engineering, or graphic design or computer programming or copywriting. Each of our brains is wired differently and attuned to different skill sets. Find those who push you, complement you and bring other skill sets to the table. You’ll realize that once you have an idea and a team, much of the rest falls into place.
Full disclosure: I have yet to submerge myself completely in entrepreneurship. I continue to juggle “side projects,” whether this be driving a charity event for American Cancer Society, handling a small business’s digital marketing or developing new content for this blog. I’m still wading around the lake; the water isn’t even up to my ankles yet. Heck, I barely have my toes submerged.
One day I’ll submerge myself completely. I’m not there yet. How about you? What’s holding you back from taking the plunge?