Written June 20, 2018
Twice recently I was invited to share my path to entrepreneurship to groups of CEOs and business leaders. Both events were incredible and inspired me to share some of the highlights with you.
I’ve been asked - are entrepreneurs born or made? You’re allowed to disagree - but I believe you have the entrepreneurial DNA or you don’t. Meaning, you’re born with it. I’ve always felt the fire inside me. I’ve been problem solving and creating solutions to difficult situations since I was a child. I'm extremely adaptable to change and when life gets tough, I always push through. Those qualities, in my opinion, are what many call GRIT and what I believe make up entrepreneurial DNA.
I dealt with significant challenges in my youth that most wouldn’t even believe happened. Through that adversity, my real character was born. The perseverance and dedication to succeed at any cost allowed me to excel quickly in a professional career at a young age. I tirelessly fought my way through the “unknown” by learning and mastering every task I could. When many said I couldn’t, I couldn’t wait to prove them wrong… and I did.
I was called an anomaly by many and they said the successes I had in my roles could never be repeated. That inspired me to become an educator and trainer by nature, not by title. I again wanted to prove them wrong so I began training up my peers to perform at my level in addition to doing my job… because I wanted to. After 5 incredible years working my way up via multiple sales roles for a Fortune 1000 company, I left to finally embark down the scary path of risk and uncertainty - called entrepreneurship.
We’ve gone through 3 significant iterations with my now 6 year old consulting firm. Each year wisdom is gained and we are able to shift and mold to what the market is craving. Being agile is critical to growing and scaling. We now have 8 team members at Sales BQ and love the work we get to do for our clients.
Here are some of the tough lessons I’ve learned and qualities I believe you must have to make it as an entrepreneur:
1) GRIT - no matter what, you’ve got to figure out a way. Get a coach, get a mentor, get an accountability partner or figure it out yourself. You have to commit everyday to excel in everything you do and persevere. You must DO THE WORK required to achieve excellence. There are no shortcuts. Get up, get going, do the work, and enjoy the results.
2) The “GET UP” - you’re gonna fall and you’re gonna fail. Not everyone is going to like you. You’re going to lose. You’re going to have to make tough decisions. You’re going to have tough conversations. You’re gonna need to put on your big girl or big boy pants on and find the courage to get back up and keep going.
3) AGILITY - be willing to change everything. Those who find themselves in sales or growth ruts must not first blame the sales effort or sales strategy. Look inside first and ask yourself if you’re selling something someone wants. The market shifts and changes constantly. Buyers wants, needs, and the way they buy shifts and changes constantly. Are you shifting and changing or shelling out thousands of dollars thinking it’s a training or personnel problem? Go back to the drawing board and first determine (through focus groups and client surveys) if what you sell is what the market wants. If it is, be willing to adjust your sales and marketing strategy to align with the adjusted way your buyer buys. If it is not, be ready to adjust your product or service.
4) TEAM - you hear it everywhere - but do you do it? Surround yourself with the best. Have the humility to hire people who are better, faster, and smarter than you. Want to be on the fast track to success? Find the right people with the right skillset that complement you and TRUST them to help you get there. Empower them. Inspire them. Lead them to greatness. In turn, you get to watch their grit and fire turn into profit for you.
Would love to hear what you think makes a great entrepreneur.