Small Business: The Entrepreneur

In small business, the term “Entrepreneur” to me has always had a mystique about it. I visualize someone on a yacht sailing the seas without a care in the world, having income without having to work and having a life only the rich and famous dream off. Some describe them as go getters or people who have a vision.

I believe that anyone can become an entrepreneur. You don’t have to start Facebook or Google to be classified as an entrepreneur. If you have a desire to conquer and an energy level that knows no boundaries, you will become a successful entrepreneur. While I was making pizzas years ago, not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would begin so many different businesses in industries that I had no idea about and eventually write a book on my experiences. You see this is the thing that is so great about small business. You really don’t have any idea how far you can go. As you move along, you bring out qualities that you thought you never had. You improve on these qualities. You become a better negotiator, speaker, listener, salesman and so on.

Sure, you can say that you want to be a millionaire and most people can achieve that goal. What you don’t realize is that becoming a millionaire isn’t the greatest part; it’s the person you become. Take away the bank balance and physically you are pretty much the same person but deep down you are confident, driven and successful. All that fear, those sleepless nights, those lingering doubts have been eroded. You are now a person of stature. You have responsibility, people look up to you, you put food on people’s tables and help employees pay off their mortgages, and you are a distinguished member of the community. Before you were just another start up but now you made it.

I often get asked by people at what stage did I make decisions to start another business or what qualities did I have that helped me spot opportunities. The honest answer is, I don’t know. It just happened. You really just pick it up as you go. You see an opportunity, you look at the worst case scenario,you see if you can add value, then you just go for it because you know nothing is guaranteed. Even after all the experience that you have gained, all the great network of people around you, there is no guaranteed success for your idea.

Even when growing your business, you just figure it out. I may ask my accountant for advice on things but if I want to spend $30,000 on a large direct mail campaign, I can’t speak to him or my bank manager or my neighbor  I just do it. I test it a little, say spend $1,000 and if there is a little response, then I go for it. There is no magic handbook. You need to figure things out and that is why entrepreneurs are so respected because they venture out into the unknown.

On my wall I had a picture frame with the quote, “if you don’t spread your wings, how do you know how far you can fly?” This is my exact point. You just have to go through the motions. That is why business is so exhilarating yet nerve racking at the same time. Your learning curve is enormous. If you were to lose everything one day, you know deep down that you could do it again because you have that knowledge that no one can take away from you. Your spirit, your hunger, drive, ambition, it stays with you forever.

When you see people in their 70′s loving their work, I bet most of them don’t even need to work but they love it. The sense of accomplishment, having a routine, interacting with other humans, business is more than money; it is a lifestyle that people choose instead of having the security of a pay check each week. After what has happened since the GFC, a guaranteed check is not so guaranteed anymore.

An entrepreneur is someone who can see things that others cannot or chooses to see a glass half full. I have been told so many times that my idea wouldn’t work but that just gets me more motivated. You see, my theory is that any idea can work. How much it will work? That’s a different story altogether. So, instead of looking at things negatively, an entrepreneur has the mindset of how can he/she can sell their product or service to the masses while the average person will think of 50 ways on how it will fail. Furthermore, all their supposed friends will encourage their negativity and destroy any chance that person had of bringing their idea to life.

Allot of small business owners really get stuck in the detail of the business especially when they have experience in that industry. An entrepreneur will however, have the end game in mind. For example, when I got into the printing industry, my printer would tell me again and again about how many pixels were in the art work, why sometimes the colors never turned out the same as the proof, where the printer was made in Germany and discussions of that nature. My printer Paul was brilliant at what he did and much of my early success was attributed to his company as he gave me a chance that other printers would not give me.

While I appreciated his technical feedback and analysis, I was more focused on the end result, selling stickers to thousands and thousands of clients. Without being rude, I don’t care about the machine, or who made it or how many pixels there are or who worked on the press, it doesn’t interest me. I want SALES, SALES AND MORE SALES. That is it. Let your staff have these conversations, not you and that is why my designer Joe handled this. My ADD would kick in after 20 seconds because I am not going to increase sales talking about pixelations.

My point is, you don’t have to be a guru on every aspect of the business. A true entrepreneur sees the future and where the business is going. He can see his product all over the world. He doesn’t worry about obstacles because if he does, he will lose focus at the end game. Know your business, know what happens at each stage of the production process but don’t dwell on it. Just sell. Be a leader and show your team where you want them to go and you will truly be a successful entrepreneur.