entrepreneur

Emails Like These

It's emails like this one from a reader of my ebook, 20 Things I've Learned as an Entrepreneur, that make my day and inspire me to do more.

Alicia,

Thank you so much for your work. I am a new entrepreneur, and I am working on following your guidelines religiously!

I am 24 years old, I spent my first year working in Pharmaceuticals and absolutely hated the day to day Robotic self that I was becoming. I took it upon myself at the end of 2012 to change this and to live my life in the present, and not in the future (I always said one day I'll own a business, one day I'll do this, one day I will etc. etc.). I decided to start off in a way that will teach me the background of business, so I decided to franchise a home health agency in Philadelphia. WHAT A SHELL SHOCK!!! Customer service, thinking on your feet, working with a whole different breed of employees, and finally keeping a positive outlook on the business. I have to tell you, I beat myself up everyday for about 6 months and did not grow at all. I was in such a self hate kind of mode, and I was not learning anything at all! I decided to become a student of business again, and take on all of the problems head on so that I could fall on my face 300 times, and ensure that I was to pick myself up 301 times. The last 6 months have been unbelievable. Anyways, I picked up your book last night, and it reminded me of all of the values that I needed to keep to. I can happily say, I was practicing 15/20 of these already! But I now have a list of your 20 Things That You Have Learned about my desk, so I can keep learning and know that it is all part of the ride! I also truly loved when you stated, "No one is without fear, if they're an entrepreneur they feel it regularly". This made me ease up a bit, it is hard being a 24 year old working all of the time always thinking of a big sale, or if someone is going to miss a shift and you'll lose a client at 11 pm on a Saturday night (while your friends are out without a care in the world!).

I just wanted to thank you and say what a pleasure it was to read 20 Things I've Learned As an Entrepreneur. In my quest for as much knowledge as possible, this will definitely be a monthly read.

Best Regards,

K B

Scrabbled

"Games, he thought. People need distractions during hard times." Stefan Fatsis, Word Freak

A phenomenon often starts with a whimper more than a big bang.

Alfred Butts an architect started working on Scrabble in 1931 and had his first version by 1934 (called Lexico). He tried to interest Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers and Simon & Schuster. They all rejected the game. When he couldn't find a manufacturer he continued to tinker with the game and created his next version Criss-Cross Words. By 1947 he had nearly given up on his game when he heard from James Brunot, a guy looking for a small business to run. It was Brunot that named the new game Scrabble.

After James Brunot acquired the early version of Scrabble from the inventor Butts in 1949, he sold only 2,413 sets of Scrabble. In the next year, 1950, he sold only 1,632 sets. The year after that he sold 4,853 sets and Brunot was still not making money. It took almost four years for the game to take off. In 1953, close to 800,000 sets were sold. Sales today are in the millions.

Are You Likely to be an Entrepreneur?

Recent survey data by Pokin Yeung sheds light on who becomes an entrepreneur. Some tidbits: "Over 50 percent of our founders surveyed have a parent who had also started a business."

"Across the board, startup founders are more likely to do things like play sports, play a musical instrument, or hold a part-time job while still in high school."

"If you’re a first-born, you are more likely to be a founder — 55 percent more likely than the population distribution."

The Definition of Entrepreneurship

According to Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson in Breakthrough Entrepreneurship written by Jon Burgstone and Bill Murphy, Jr.  

"Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled."

 

Said another way by Burgstone:

"Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available."

 

What's Your Leadership Style?

I'll admit it, when I first started as an entrepreneur I didn't give leadership much thought, much less what style I used. But I am a wiser woman today. Unsure of your leadership style? I took an interesting quiz (no longer online) by Entrepreneur.com. My results?

Your Score Is... 152 Your leadership type is: The Enlightened Warrior (Score: 123-200) Whether they've worked hard to develop their leadership qualities or they're one of the lucky ones to be born that way, Enlightened Warriors have what it takes to lead a team towards success. People who fall into this category possess excellent people skills and a knack for inspiring both enthusiasm and loyalty from others.

With their strong drive to succeed and their eyes constantly on the horizon, Enlightened Warriors are always on top of the latest business trends, ready to seize upon good opportunities. Individuals with this leadership type don't wait for things to happen - they make them happen. Always willing to go out on a limb when necessary, they can easily adapt to the often unpredictable changes in the business world.

Enlightened Warriors take their responsibility as leader very seriously and do their best to set an example for those that follow them. They command respect from others by offering the same degree of respect in return.

Serial Entrepreneurship

Growing up I don't think anyone ever suspected I would be an entrepreneur. I certainly didn't. But one day the light bulb went off. I had an idea. And I just knew. Like romance novels detail the first meeting of a romantic partner. I've never experienced that feeling, but when the idea for Consorte hit me, I was smitten. Having an idea, I quickly learned, was the easy part. Making it happen, neh willing it to happen, was the truly difficult task.

And what they don't tell you about entrepreneurship, about corralling a bunch of people behind your vision, about battling misconceptions and skepticism, about hiring people and firing people, about pinching pennies and clawing for dollars, is what an emotional roller coaster it all is.

The ride never stops.

If it does, it's at the precipice, those scary interminable moments before you plummet, your stomach in your throat.

It's a wonder then that after getting off the ride (my first company was acquired last year) that I am getting back on.

What I've learned is entrepreneurship is life and life is entrepreneurship. In life, if you choose to engage in it, you will be forced to grow and scale back, bring people in and let people go, change markets and yes, even reevaluate your product. In the end, to stop creating, building, and growing would mean to stop living.

So when you think about it we're all serial entrepreneurs. Starting, stopping and starting all over again. Life and entrepreneurship require constant movement and reinvention. Looking back I now realize I was an entrepreneur all along - a serial entrepreneur. And maybe, now you will see, you are one, too. I hope you enjoy the ride.