Got entrepreneurial mojo? Even if you are an established small business or large one. Even if you are a startup business.
The academic year is just around the corner. As I prepare to once again take my place with the team at University of Michigan Ross School of Business which will study the Finance of Entrepreneurship, I continue to think about the impact the entrepreneurship movement is having on developing today’s business professionals.
How many of you have Entrepreneurial Mojo?
I received this timely In-mail from Sara, one of my newest LinkedIn connections, a very bright marketing and international business professional from Madrid. She poses an excellent question:
“I do have one question: what do you think about all the new start-up companies? Do the young people (like me) have to start to develop an idea or do we need to have more experience in order to have success with the idea?”
She hit the nail on the head. This weekend, I had this same discussion with one of my colleagues, a Brand Manager with a Fortune 500 company.
Being an entrepreneur is tough. The July/August 2013 issues of Inc.® and Fast Company® magazines underscore that choosing an entrepreneurial path is not easy. The road may be daunting, leading to a profound loss of self-confidence and personal finances, as well. With little formal work experience other than entrepreneurship courses, and the encouragement of professors, friends and families, many younger entrepreneurs may find themselves unprepared to accept serial failure before – and if – they are moderately successful in a startup venture.
I’ve blogged about this topic before, and will continue to do so. There is tremendous value gained in working for other people. You not only are involved in creating deliverables for that company. You can take a 10,000 foot eagle’s eye view of your employer, their processes and practices, their industry and markets, and learn all you can about whether your employer’s business model and financial models are robust enough to be poised for growth. You can also pay down your student loans and learn how to handle your own personal finances, before you assume handling the finances of your own startup.
That doesn’t sound like a typical “job” does it?
The students who study entrepreneurship, in the courses being developed for today’s globally competitive economy, bring entrepreneurial mojo back into legacy models and systems. They can choose to work for established, mid to late stage ventures, with cash flow and marketplace traction, where they won’t be a commodity, but can flourish assuming multiple responsibilities within their employer’s organization.
Recently, I’ve coached three of my students, helping them gain such positions. These talented young people are willing to work hard, very hard, to improve themselves. They are willing to follow, and observe, in order to compare the reality of the workplace with what they learned in their entrepreneurial studies. They were very surprised by what they learned – and this is only the beginning.
Having an idea that seems “great” to you and your friends is only the start. Not everyone is hard-wired with the type of entrepreneurial DNA that creates a successful startup capable of sustained growth in today’s marketplace. Considering the average age of successful entrepreneurs is between 30-37, these folks elected to do something to sustain themselves and their families while they kept their entrepreneurial passion alive and well.
They worked for other people. They listened to the language and context of business. They learned the way money walks around an organization. They identified gaps and weaknesses in business processes and financial models. They figured out what works, and what doesn’t work, in today’s crazy-business, globally competitive economic marketplace. All that they learned continued to fuel their entrepreneurial passion and drive. Their entrepreneurial mojo.
If you are a true entrepreneur, with great ideas, that is a calling, a vocation. Those types of characteristics provide value to any organization. Your employment helps you build your credibility professionally, and to future investors. You build your entrepreneurial mojo.
Yes, you may have a great idea right now. Think about how much greater that idea might become, or pivot into, if you give yourself the opportunity to gain the insight and context you can only gain by working for others. You grow your entrepreneurial mojo.
Entrepreneurship isn’t an academic exercise. It requires real-time, real-world implementation. The hands-on experience you gain begins after you graduate and get out of the building.
The choice is yours whether to become a full-time entrepreneur or whether to take your entrepreneurship into the workplace.
Either way, it’s a win-win. It takes entrepreneurial mojo.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.