This past week I heard three pitches from three start-up companies looking for seed capital. These young entrepreneurs had just completed a summer internship program called Momentum (www.momentum-mi.com). This pre-seed-funded effort allowed these young entrepreneurs to spend the summer focused on developing their idea into a working proto-type, creating a business plan, and practicing and pitching in front of possible seed-capital investors. In the midst of the economic shift taking place, it was fascinating to see these “new sprouts” taking root and beginning a journey with an uncertain destination.
In the same week, I watch a documentary on hulu.com, “The Entrepreneur,” about Malcom Bricklin’s attempt to distribute the Chinese Chery automobile in the US. This film was produced by his son, who traveled with his 65-year-old father as he made one more attempt to create a car business. His “P.T. Barnum” approach to working with the Chinese ended when they selected Chrysler as their US distributor.
All of which started me pondering: What is an entrepreneur and why should you care?
Here are ten things I feel an entrepreneur needs:
1. A passionate dream, compelling idea or vision.
2. Persistence to the point of irrationality.
3. Access to capital : saving, friends & family, seed fund, etc.
4. Belief in oneself : self confidence.
5. A willingness to risk the shame (in some micro-cultures) of failure.
6. Support and encouragement from spouse, family and friends.
7. A willingness to “do whatever it takes” to accomplish this dream.
8. A focused determination to never, ever, quit, no matter what.
9. Optimism : a belief that the glass is half full.
10. An ability to fail and get up and try again:”fail fast forward.”
Why should you care? To me, these unusual “outliers” are at the heart of American Business. They drive our economy and evolve: they birth themselves, mature and die. Every business organization started with an idea and grew into an enterprise. It is these new enterprises that will revive our economy, create wealth and prosperity, and provide jobs and investment. Hats off to the entrepreneurs of the world. Thank you for the risks that you take.