By Pat Blakesley
As I look back on my life, there really hasn’t been a time when I wasn’t an entrepreneur. Even as a kid in grade school I was trying to sell “my goods” – Tootsie Rolls, Hubba Bubba, Air Jordans, whatever I had. Mom didn’t like me selling my shoes, but hey, $150 to a 6th grader is like a bazillion dollars.
Once I graduated from college, I had a few decisions to make. One of which was what the heck I was going to do with my life. My degree was in computer science and I wanted to be a DEA agent. But there was that itch – once I put some ointment on it, it cleared up. No not that itch, the one where I wanted to make MY mark in the world.
My whole life to that point, I had out-lead, out-thought, out-improvised, out-saved, and out-worked anyone around me. Now it was time to go at it for reals. So, I started my own business and never looked back.
After 25 years of working for myself and family, I have realized there were a few tools that were given to me that have really made a difference in my success, or sometimes, my failure.
Let me get to the points – I know, finally, right?
* The ability to withstand failure. If you cannot handle failing, then don’t go it alone. You will fail – I promise. And it will hurt. You must be able to stand back up, dust off, wipe away the tears, and keep going.
* The ability to learn from your failures. We all fail. The ones who make it are the ones who learn from those failures. Fix the issues. Try again. There are countless stories of the Titans of Industry and how they failed time and time again only to finally make it through the fog. They were able to do this because they learned from failure and tried again until they got it right.
* An understanding of money. Having an understanding of money is not knowing that a “c-note” has a 100 on it. And watching All About the Benjamins does not count as a crash course in Finance. Understanding money from an Entrepreneurial standpoint is realizing that you must save and spend with intelligence. Throwing money at something will not make it go away – I know, I have tried…and I have an ex-wife. Understand how budgets work, be clear on a cash flow statement and balance sheet. Know where money is coming from and where it is going. Passion will only get you so far. You need money to grow.
* A Vision of the End. When I coach Entrepreneurs I always ask them about their “End Goal”. The end goal gives you a target to take your business to. Without it, you will be lost. And when things don’t go the way you expect (which happens often), it will be difficult to get back on track. See the vision and build the path.
* A sense for talent. Find other people to help you build your vision. Find people who are better than you and enable them to do great things. I like to think this is my strong suit, but you will have to ask my team for an accurate assessment. Your company will only be great if you have great talent on the team.
* Bonus: Embrace Technology. Our world is so different than it was 25 years ago. My first cell phone weighed 8 lbs and was the size of a 2 liter of Coke. And I think the Coke had better reception. Use the tools that the bright minds have created for us. If you don’t “get” tech, hire someone. If you don’t have the funds to hire, then go to a Community College and recruit some college kids who want to build their portfolio – they are free or might only cost you a pizza and a Starbucks gift card.
Being an Entrepreneur is challenging 24/7. There is always something waiting for you around the corner. Being prepared and able to deal with those little surprises is how you will become one of the 15% of people who make their business ideas work.
I hope I have helped or at least supported what you already know. Do me a favor and pass this article along to anyone you feel can use it. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me via LinkedIn, Twitter, email, phone, or even hand-written letter (I still read those).
Thanks and Go Forward!
Sport Sock Wearer
The Blakesley Group