Friday, April 12, 2013

10 Surprising Assertions From Elite Entrepreneurs

jobs-gatesMost people agree that entrepreneurs have to think differently and take risks to have much chance of building a successful business. Yet I have found that serious entrepreneurs usually go way beyond these platitudes in their actions and thinking, and often won’t volunteer their real views, for fear of alienating “regular” people, and being branded a fanatic.

In his new book “The Entrepreneur Mind,” by serial entrepreneur Kevin D. Johnson, he outlines 100 essential beliefs, insights, and habits of serious entrepreneurs. Most of these are predictable, like think big and create new markets, but I found a few, like the ten below, that will likely raise the hackles of many people outside this lifestyle, and many “wannabe” entrepreneurs.

Yet, based on my own years of experience “in the business”, mentoring many entrepreneurs, and following stalwarts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, even these potentially controversial mindsets ring true to me:

  1. All risk isn’t risky. Entrepreneurs surely understand the high probability of failure, but they don’t necessarily like to gamble. Instead, they take calculated risks, stacking the deck in their favor. They must have enough confidence in themselves, supplemented by expert knowledge, solid relationships, or personal wealth, to see the risk as near zero.

  2. Business comes first, family second. This view isn’t a selfish one, but a recognition by serious entrepreneurs that family well-being is dependent on the success of the business, not the other way around. This is why airlines ask you to put on your oxygen mask first. Should you forego closing a million dollar deal to attend a ball game with your son?

  3. Following your passion is bogus. Look for a good business model first. Your passion may be for a good cause, like curing world hunger, but it may not be a good business. In any young business, you inevitably find things that are not enjoyable, but need to be done, like cold calls or firing unproductive employees. Just doing fun things is a myth.

  4. It’s not about being your own boss. Great entrepreneurs aren’t interested in being bosses at all. People who crave the freedom to do what they want when they want generally make terrible entrepreneurs. In order to be a successful entrepreneur, discipline is a must, and accept your new bosses as investors, partners, and customers.

  5. Fire your worst customers. We have all had customers who take advantage of us, to the detriment of other good customers. The best entrepreneurs are quick to make the tough decisions to bypass bad customers, with proper respect, to minimize frustration, resource drain, and reputation loss. You can’t please everyone all the time.

  6. Ignorance can be bliss. It’s great to be highly familiar with the industry in which you plan to compete, but many times people see too many challenges, and never start. In other cases, entrepreneurs are opening up new business areas, so no one yet knows the challenges. Serious entrepreneurs trust their ability to beat a new path to the opportunity.

  7. You’re in no rush to get an MBA. If you are already an entrepreneur, more education, including an MBA, will only slow you down. Consider it a waste of time. If you plan to become an entrepreneur, and already have business experience or an undergraduate business degree, skip the two-year delay and cost of the MBA.

  8. You are odd, and it’s OK. Entrepreneurs, especially those in technology, usually don’t start out as well-rounded, well-adjusted leaders. In fact, being odd is quite the norm. According to other studies, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) is common, as well as host of other personality disorders. It’s actually cool to be a geek in this lifestyle.

  9. A check in hand means nothing. Every entrepreneur remembers their naïve days when that first customer check bounced. When you receive a new purchase order, a check, a verbal agreement, or even a written agreement, don’t get too happy and excited. Save the celebration until you have cold cash in hand, or the funds are verified.

  10. There’s no such thing as a cold call. If you are an elite entrepreneur, you don’t go into anything cold. With the Internet and a plethora of other resources, you can warm up any call quickly, and not waste your time or theirs. Doing your homework first is one of the best ways to get an advantage over your competition.

If you think Johnson is on the right track, see his book for 90 more challenging insights. Even if you disagree with some of these, try to open your mind to the value of the seemingly backward way of thinking required to be a great entrepreneur – others seek refuge, they take risks; others want a job, they want to create jobs; others follow the market, while they define the market.

Have you caught the entrepreneur bug yet? If so, prepare for a lifetime commitment, and learn from the elite. There is no turning back.

Marty Zwilling


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8 comments:

  1. Hey Martin,
    I don't know whether to be shocked at the fact I'm not shocked, especially at the idea of putting business before family (I know about that one from personal experience) or to be shocked that there's nothing that crazy or quirky about the list. I think I've been living with an entrepreneur far too long to think any of this is crazy...and I'm sure it's rubbed off on me.
    But one thing...about risk taking..I think for people worried about making a transition from working for a company to starting their own, how much of a risk is it anyway these days? The economy is so bad and jobs are so hard to find, that I just don't see starting one's own business as any riskier than working for a company who will likely lay you off when you're least expecting it, under pay you, take advantage of you or otherwise force you to compromise yourself.
    Love the post, though...makes me think!
    And thanks, as always, for sharing it with the BizSugar community. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm certainly in disagreement with this statement...

      I believe this post is speaking more to a young Entrepreneur, the ones without an income that is even close to supporting themselves. We struggle to pay rent and feed ourselves, and trust me.. most of us don't want to be living at home any more so making the leap from comfortable Salary position to running my own business isn't an easy thing to fathom.

      Not to mention, there are about a million jobs out there right now. The economy isn't "bad" anymore.. it isn't GREAT, but people aren't being laid off left and right... positions are all over the internet. If it isn't a position you want right now, tough.. go make some money at a fast food restaurant or retail store or gas station or anywhere else you can make a buck. Bide your time, and believe in your ability to find a career and you'll find one. People need to continue to make strides in recognizing that the economy isn't out of your control anymore, you can find a way...

      When you are a fresh(ish) out of college, it is important to have the work experience as we have been preached to. Fortunate for me, I've worked since I could get a permit to do so at 15 1/2. Despite my years of work experience and my degree, these things do not make up for the potential losses I would face by going out on my own, when instead I can continue growing my career experience within the "corporate structure".

      So instead, you spend about as much time as you can on your projects while at home or on lunch hours, and getting the other work done while in the office (sometimes you can sneak in a few quick things).

      Delete
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