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Why be an entrepreneur? Because, we are so enthusiastic about entrepreneurship. We try very, very hard to convince people to be an entrepreneur. We have rules in our classroom that you cannot wear a suit in class because that means you are probably interviewing “with the man.”
A lot of our teaching time is spent with full time MBA program students and they go on a lot of interviews, because that’s how you get jobs. So they are always in their suits. You can miss our class because it’s a pretty day outside and you want to enjoy the campus. You can miss our class because you want to spend the day with your significant other, that’s fine. But you CANNOT miss our class because you had an interview with somebody else, like the “man!”
We try hard to convince people that entrepreneurship is a viable path, because some people feel like entrepreneurship is only for a select few. We try hard to shatter that image. That is the philosophy behind what Jim and Chris are attempting to do with this series of lectures and modules. So why are you reading this on Thursday night or on a Saturday? Why are you doing this? Think about what you have accomplished for a minute. You have plenty of other really important things to do with your life right now. There are some of you that are working on this today and may quit only after one or two lessons. There are some of you who may not finish. But some of you are dedicating yourself to this. We want to say “wow!” You are investing time to change your life. That’s pretty important. So, we think you should be proud for trying.
It’s so easy to say “Yes I want this! Yes that sounds interesting to me.” But you know there’s a big, big drop off in the people who actually start taking action and those that finish. So that’s kind of a cool thing that you are trying. The Entrepreneur School will help you change your life.
Let’s just throw out a couple of stats and then we’ll talk a little more about the why.
72% of American adult citizens want to be entrepreneurs. They have a serious interest (and there are specific ways they measure that serious interest). They have a serious interest in becoming an entrepreneur. Yet, there’s a huge drop off in the people that actually start a company. But 72% have interest.
I’m not here to just make a living. I’m here to make a difference.”
- Helice Bridges70%. – We thought this was kind of an interesting stat. USA Today did a survey of high school students. 70% of them said they want to be an entrepreneur. That was their goal. A decade earlier that number was barely over 10%. To high school students, entrepreneurship is starting to become something; before it was “you’re going to become an entrepreneur?” Well you’re supposed to go get a “real” job. Why are you going to be an entrepreneur? Go work for that company. It’s still not acceptable for some students. You know we paid all this money for education to start our own business . . . well we’re supposed to go get a job. Why? Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Why? But, today 70% of high school students now aspire to be entrepreneurs!
47% / 38% – A survey of men asking them if you could do anything in the world that you want to do for one year, what would it be? 47% of men said “I would choose to be an entrepreneur.” If you could do anything you want for one year what would it be? 38% of women said that is what they would do. We find that kind of interesting because we think “wow – I’m about as nerdy as you can get about entrepreneurship. But for a year anything? You know I’d be like the equipment manager for the Braves or something for a year.” It shows how compelling entrepreneurship can be.
69% / 40% – A interview of the highest level of executives, the people who are at the CEO level of major Fortune 500 companies, the question was “Would you agree with the statement I love what I do for a living?” Then they interviewed entrepreneurs. Only 40% of the executives at the highest levels agreed with that statement. I LOVE WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING. These are people at the highest levels: the people you would expect probably to enjoy it more. An amazing 69% of entrepreneurs agree with that statement. I LOVE WHAT I DO, I LOVE IT. So powerful.
Peter Drucker. When I think about entrepreneurship and why people become entrepreneurs, I often think about that Peter Drucker quote: “Any time you see a business, somebody once made a courageous decision.” We love it.
So why do people become entrepreneurs? Just shout it out. Freedom, that is a theme you hear a lot. What else? Be your own boss – BYOB. You hear that over and over and over again. Of course that’s our definition of BYOB, on campus it means something else. What else? Control, absolutely, control over my own destiny. What else? Money. You’re going to hear some things about money. Think about money. The next lesson is going to go into a lot more detail about money. But, realistically you’ve got to decide whether or not I’m going to be an entrepreneur or someone who draws a paycheck from an entrepreneur. Which one are you going to be?
Just economically speaking, if you want to get paid $50,000, do you know how much money you have to generate for that entrepreneur for you to get $50,000 a year? With all the costs of regulation, all the costs of taxes, the costs of benefits. We will tell you that in the circle of entrepreneurs we network with the ratio they use is 3 to 1. For you to be worth $50,000, you have to generate for us about $150,000, by creating either enough revenue so I can spin off $150,000 or you save me enough money so when I think about workers’ compensation, all the wrongful termination, all the costs of hiring is a 3 to 1 ratio. So if you want to increase your personal wealth, it’s harder to that if you’re working for somebody else. Because you’re generating more money for that person than you are for yourself. Really entrepreneurship is the only way you can get paid what you’re truly worth. Otherwise you’re just trading my time for a paycheck.
There are so many ways to have this conversation and it’s hard for us to be brief about this topic. We like to be very verbose about the why of entrepreneurship. Our attitude is: “If you identify the why, then the how will show up. Because if my why is strong enough and I don’t know something, I’ll figure it out. ” You’ll learn for a site like this. You’ll tackle one of us at an event and say “look I don’t understand this piece, you’ve got to tell me, I’m not letting you go home until you explain this to me.” You’ll find it out if your why is strong enough. If you view your life with purpose and don’t view it as a struggle. Purpose!! We feel that the why is very important. What we did was take a very popular book – “The Millionaire Next Door” – and these are the though processes according to the authors of that book – about the general feelings of entrepreneurs about why they are doing what they are doing: “I am in control of my own destiny.” There’s a feeling of control. “I control my day. I control what I do. I control how I react to the economy. I control all those aspects of it.”
We actually find that part very fulfilling. We have failed many times. We definitely don’t want to hide that. We feel that’s the only way we can teach is because we failed. You don’t stay up at night thinking about how successful you were. You stay up at night thinking “oh my gosh! I can’t pay that mortgage this month. What in the world am I going to do.” We feel that failure creates the experience and creates the learning. Yes, we have fumbled the ball, but, give me the ball again. “I want to control that!”
“I want the ball!. At the end of the day all I want to do is bat 300. I keep reminding myself of that.”
“Risk is working for a ruthless employer.” That’s risk. We hear about risk when people say, “You know, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur.” Why? Or, “I’d like to be an entrepreneur, but . . . it’s just too risky.” We have trouble with that logic. We don’t get that at all. We totally agree with the mind set that risk is working for the “man!” Let’s talk about that for a minute. Let’s assume that you work for somebody else. How many sources of income do you have? One! One source of income. Chris was a risk management major. He does business evaluations and does expert witness testimony in court about how much businesses are worth. When you have one source of anything, one source of customers, one source of suppliers, one source of vendors – that increases your risk, diminishes your value. So, you have once source of income – that’s risky. Let’s go with that, that’s fine. You’ve got one source of income – who controls that one source of income that you rely upon to provide for your family? Who control’s it? Do you? We think especially in this economic climate were you could be could be a really good, valuable employee, good worker, loyal worker, but you know what? You could show up one day and your card key doesn’t work any more. So we’ve got one source which is risky enough and we don’t even control that one source! That’s scary!
Entrepreneurship is arguably the single most powerful force to create economic and social mobility. Because it is opportunity centered and rewards only for talent and performance – and could care less about religion, gender, skin color, social class, national origin, and the like – it enables people to pursue and realize their dreams, to falter and to try again, and to seek opportunities that match who they are, what they want to be, and how and where they want to live. No other employer can make that claim. Now, contrast that with an entrepreneur. We know some of your BS meters are going off. But let’s contrast that with an entrepreneur who owns one business. Just one business. You own a landscaping business. How many source of income do you have? Every time we see grass, that’s money, money for a business owner, money, money, money. We will teach you everything you need to know, things like a system and a process to create a marketing system that guarantees my sales and money. “How do I get that?” Easier said than done, we totally understand that. We have the freedom to be entrepreneurs – which is fantastic! But you can’t have that freedom without accountability. Nobody can have that level of freedom without accountability. But every time I see grass, that money we could get. Now we may fail in that, we may drop the ball sometimes, we may not get that customer, but who controls whether or not we get that? Who controls whether we get that money? We do – and we’ll take that all day long!
So we have multiple sources of income. We’ve got hundreds, if not thousands, of potential sources of income for us to put food on the table for my family and who controls that? We do! And we love that part of entrepreneurship. That is powerful to us, that makes us feel empowered, it makes us feel in control, it gives us hope when we get up in the day. It’s like wow, yesterday was a bad day, but you know what, this day, today is going to be good, because we can control that. We can control whether it’s a good day or a bad day. We love that.
Some of you aren’t convinced, we expect that. Just think about this even if we conceded the point that entrepreneurship is risky, which we will never do, especially if you follow the process that we’re talking about. But, just for theoretical purposes throw it out there that entrepreneurship is risky. Think about some of the most meaningful experiences in your life. Did they include some level of risk? Getting married. Which is more risky – getting married or starting a business, statistically? Getting married. But when you say “I’m going to get married,” nobody says, “Oh my gosh – did you see the divorce rate, you shouldn’t do that! I had an uncle that got divorced, you shouldn’t do that!!” Most of the time you don’t hear that. People say, “Yea!! You’re going to get married!”
But, if you tell somebody “I’m going to start a business,” you hear, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that – I had an uncle that failed at that.” But does that prevent us from the joys and experiences of being married?
What is more risky – starting a business or having children? Oh, that’s the riskiest thing anyone has done in their life, having children! If something happens to our children, we don’t know what we’d do. We would never, ever be the same. However, does that prevent me from the joys of being a parent?
So even if you can see that it takes some level of risk, you know what – that’s okay. Some of the greatest things we experience as human beings involve some level of risk. Alright, we will get off the risk soap box.
We can solve any problem. That entrepreneur mindset of “I can solve any problem.” There are several, several definitions of entrepreneurship. One of them happens to be: “Entrepreneurship is the daily solving of problems.” We believe that! We have problems constantly. Everyday is a constant battle of managing through issues of problems. But you have this mindset of – — you know what — – “I can solve any problem. I can do this.”
We often joke with my students, “I’ve got 99 problems, but a boss ain’t one!” You know you have a lot of problems, but you get through it, you solve it. You’re going to have issues, but we have the control and we have the ability to work through it. Now, we’re not the smartest guys in the world and we know that. But who else can we call, who else can we talk to, what can we do? We will solve this. We don’t have the answer right now, but we will solve it. Its an attitude.
The only way to become CEO is to own the company. We like that one. Isn’t it great that in this country you can aspire to be CEO? You can be CEO on Monday! We can go to the Secretary of State’s Office and get you incorporated – you’re a CEO. So if you get nervous – like you’re in an employer situation – “You’ve got to present to the CFO – it’s like what do you mean – I’m the CEO, Why am I nervous about that person. I am the CEO!!”
We think entrepreneurship is ideal for impatient people. We deal with these students, which we love doing, and we’ve got all these really bright, aggressive MBAs, they’re in their 20’s and their really on that fast track to success. Best case scenario – what — you’re in your 40’s and you’re CEO? Why not do it tomorrow? Why not do it today? So the only way to become CEO is to own the company. There are no limits on the amount of income we can make. How many of you have gone to a review – the review process – you have to fill out the form, talk about how great you are – “Yes I did this and I checked this” – and you’re going into that office and having that conversation with yourself, “Oh, please give me 4% oh no 5%, I don’t know – maybe 3%, I’m hoping.” Wow!! Verses, “How much money do I choose to make next year?” What an empowering thought,
“I’m going to set up a marketing system to fulfill my dream – how much money do I choose to make? — Well, I choose to make $80,000 – that means the business has to function in this way. Can I manage the business this way. Here’s the marketing system – I have to make seven(7) appointments a week to hit that outcome. Am I willing to commit myself to that outcome?”
So, there are no limits – none.
We get stronger and wiser everyday by facing risks and adversity. There’s a certain mindset to that. “This is a really bad situation, it’s negative but I’m going to be better because of it. One day I’ll laugh about, right now it doesn’t feel very funny, but one day I’ll joke about that.” So we get stronger every day by facing risks and adversity.
This next statement we copied from a text book. We rarely, if ever, have copied anything from a text book on entrepreneurship, but we thought this was well articulated. We like this…
“Entrepreneurship is arguably the single most powerful force to create economic and social mobility because it is opportunity-centered and rewards only for talent and performance and could care less about religion, gender, skin color, social class, national origin and the like, it enables people to pursue and realize their dreams, to falter and to try again, and to seek opportunities that match who they are, what they want to be and how and where they want to live. No other employer can make that claim.”
Do you think there’s a glass ceiling where you work? You don’t have to have a glass ceiling – turn to entrepreneurship. Right now we’re getting so many calls from people who are being laid off and they tend to be a little bit older because it’s easy to lay off the older folks, because they cost more money. You don’t have to worry about that! You don’t have to worry about those kinds of issues being an entrepreneur. We love that part!!
Now before we move on, before we can get on with more of the how and less of the why – we need to talk about how, “Entrepreneurs Are the Rich!”