All posts in entrepreneur

Share on Facebook+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

Entrepreneurship is learning that never ends. So most entrepreneurs will tell you that at least one great teacher or ‘mentor’ was a key to their success along the way. In fact, even the most accomplished entrepreneurs never stop being on the lookout for new mentors. We should, too.

But what should we be looking for? What you should be expecting when you find one? Here’s what we’ve learned from experience:

You’re not looking for a tutor. The kind of mentor you want–a successful, busy person–won’t be able to give you that kind of time. In fact, some of the people we’d consider our greatest mentors we might have only talked to once or twice in our careers—but the advice was so right at the right time, it caused a critical inflection point. So it’s quality not quantity. A mentor sees what you don’t see, knows what you don’t know—not because they’re smarter–but because they’ve got thousands more swings at the plate than you have. They’ve simply seen more patterns and connected more dots. But most of all–they see your problem from outside—an awesome perspective that you could never get unless you’re prone to having out of body experiences.

Mentors need you as much as they need them. Human beings have an instinctive need to pass the knowledge they treasure to the next generation. Mentors are successful people who are grateful for their success and know they owe their own mentors for it. They’re looking for someone to give it back to. They’re looking for you. So take the pressure off yourself–if you keep looking, asking and talking to people, you’ll find each other.

Mentors don’t work for hire, so you can’t just point and choose any mentor you want. Like any personal relationship, you can’t force it–there needs to be a little chemistry for both of you. It’s one more reason entrepreneurs are always on the lookout because like the loves of your life, the mentors of your life don’t come along every day. But they are there, in places you might never have expected to encounter them. They are always attracted by honest and sincere motives and mission.

Mentors may have great answers and advice—but ultimately they can only give you one kind: their answers—from their lives, their businesses and their unique circumstances. These may or may not prove to be yours. The ultimate answers for you are the ones you teach yourself by doing, feeling and internalizing on your own personal journey. Olympic Gold Medal winner Michael Phelps can tell you everything there is to know about swimming. But you have to jump in and get wet to understand it. A skydiving champion can teach you all about skydiving—but not what it feels like step through your own fear, step out that door into open space, and fly one time. Mentors can guide you and coach you, even save you years of trial and error with a single big bit of wisdom. But only you can truly teach you. Mentors are marvelous. But only motion is magic.

Share on Facebook+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

Someone sent us this link tonight. It was a list of the top 30 business books according a website for entrepeneurs called thinkentrepreneurship.com. I started scrolling through the list. #1 was Dale Carnegie’s all time classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People probably the best business, sales and personal wisdom book of all times. So I immediately decided to respect this list maker’s taste and judgement. He didn’t start off with the book BANG! about the AFLAC Duck, for example. A host of other great ones followed–some old and timeless like Think and Grow Rich, best sellers like Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth, and some of the more new age ones by Tim Ferriss and Daniel Pink.

Now here’s the rest of the story. #20 was, you guessed it (I didn’t guess it by the way) The UnStoppables. Always a nice surprise for anyone who’s ever written a book, believe me. The host of the site also has a podcast interview series with some excellent past guests. One of the most notables for me was “The GPS Girl– also the voice of Siri–Karen Jacobsen. She even looked like Siri–blonde, willowy, sweet, patient, loving and kind. I expected her to be wearing two giant hearing aids though because she is clearly hearing impaired–she NEVER understands my voice!!! But you didn’t see those in her publicity shot. He also had the guy who started 1-800-Got-JUNK, Brian Scudamore.

I called the host, Peter Sveen, to thank him. We started talking a little about the book and he asked if we could do a show. Of course, I said. Secretly, I’m hoping we get to include a call-in with Siri. Something tells me she’s a born entrepreneur.

Share on Facebook+1Share on LinkedInShare on Twitter

One of the most interesting things about statistics on entrepreneurs and new business is how wide ranging they are. Some get cited as urban wisdom — like the venerable “80% of all new businesses fail in ten years. Or when filtered through cyberspace, make that 90% fail in just five. But recently, the stats I’ve seen say the five year number is much closer to 50%. That is, half of all business start-ups are no longer in operation after five years. About 70% are no longer operating by year ten.

Now wait a minute. These statistics about “failures” are what the average Optimizer enjoys citing as “proof” that entrepreneurship is a dismal risk–why they are not foolish enough to try it. Are you kidding me???

If these numbers are true, it means that almost 50% are SUCCEEDING–still alive and kicking after 5 years! Employing their founders and associates, feeding families and offering the chance for financial, personal and emotional independence. Even if it were only 20% still in business, that’s still an astonishingly positive number and it’s under YOUR control. People throw hundreds of dollars a year playing the state lotteries with odds like 80 billion to one. And by the way, the companies that cease operations don’t necessarily collapse into a smoking hulk after those five years. Businesses can be sold, transferred, merged or re-purposed–not just declared bankrupt.

And here’s something we definitely know. An entrepreneur’s chances of succeeding go up significantly--like by 30% the second time he or she tries. And even more the third time. This lottery starts to look like a non-lottery after a while doesn’t it? Hardly a game of chance. Seems like the operating principle ought to be get started, learn as you go and keep on swinging. Your chances of long term job security seem about as high if you choose to be an entrepreneur creating employment, as they’d be if you were a job seeker hoping a corporate employer will hand you an opportunity–then let you keep it for more than five years. The Navy SEALs will tell you that ‘it’s always better to do it than have it done to you;’ and we at The UnStoppables.com believe in one maxim– ‘daring pays dividends.’ The business you started may be something else or somewhere else after five years. But you will be far ahead of where you could have possibly been in experience, wisdom, professional savvy and growth potential than you could possibly have been otherwise.

Entrepreneurship a dismal risk for irresponsible gamblers. That stats show, it’s a pretty darn good bet.