Entrepreneurs are glamorized in today’s world and I would say rightly so. Without entrepreneurs, we would still be living in the stone age. Take a second and think how different would the world be if Thomas Edison had not invented the lightbulb, if Henry Ford had not streamlined the automotive industry, if Bill Gates had not set out to put a computer in every home, or if Ray Kroc had not taken a small burger joint in California and turned it into a ubiquitous franchise known as McDonalds.. Yes, entrepreneurs have dramatically changed our world and they are changing it now, as you read this article. If you want a say in how the world changes, learn how to entreprenew (i just entreprenewed the word entrepreneurship because it was being inflexible)..
So you want to be an entrepreneur?
- Start Young – there is no better time and place to learn entrepreneurship than when you are still a teenager living at home. The rules of the game don’t change when you are on your own, but the consequences of failure do become more severe. Don’t buy into the lie that you need money to make money. Be creative.
- Change your mentality - being a successful entrepreneur has much to do with your psychology and the way you see the world. It has to do with understanding how value will be perceived by the customer and how to create it. It has to do with finding a need in the market place begging to be filled. It has to do with knowing when to put your foot on the gas and knowing when to let off. It has to do with how you view failure and your willingness to risk everything. Repeatedly!
- Don’t get an MBA – A friend of mine explains.. “I was extremely fortunate to have 2 very high caliber business mentors while in my 20′s. Much of my business acumen came from those guys. The more successful of the 2 would say that an MBA is a great way to ruin a promising entrepreneur. That the classes have nothing to do with creating and running a successful business. I tend to agree. Sure there are technical skills to be learned about business and investing, and the b-schools probably do a great job of teaching those. Unfortunately, knowing how to read a set of financials, or use excel will only get the student about 5% there.”
- Find a mentor – Entrepreneurship cannot be taught in a book, or in a textbook I should say. The best way to learn entrepreneurship is by emulating it. If you aren’t lucky enough to know an entrepreneur, you can learn from the best by reading the books and articles of the likes of Richard Branson or Aaron Patzer. Read their stories, learn how they think..
- Role Play - During my senior year at the Academy, I was tasked to develop a business plan for my capstone management class. My team took an idea and developed its value proposition, target market, rollout strategy…etc. Before that class, I could probably give you a definition of entrepreneurship but I had no practical knowledge of it. It doesn’t matter how basic or “stupid” you think your idea is, the important thing here is learning the process. Role playing helped me develop the mindset that I talked about in point #2 above.
I used to think that that maybe I was born without much creativity. I can remember sitting in the car with my dad and brothers on the way to school trying to think of some product that the world needs.. I could never think of anything. I now understand that to innovate, we have to narrow our focus. Basically, the first step of innovation is finding where there is pain and frustration in peoples’ lives. Entrepreneurship happens when you find pain in your own area of expertise; when you see a problem that frustrates you personally and you have the ability to develop a solution. If it is something that frustrates you, odds are it frustrates others as well. Then you can ease their pain and your own..
Want to help your kids become sharp entrepreneurs? Teach them how to manage money now.. at 3, 4, 5 years old. Teach them how to do a job with excellence. Have them start saving and investing now. Teach them that failure is good and they should do it often. Teach them how to value a unit of labor. Encourage their passions. If they are artistic, do art with them. If they are mechanically inclined, build legos with them. Expose them to new cultures and different ideas. Help them start a business when they get older. We live in a globalized world, show them that the US is not the only option they have to live, work, or have a business..