Ever since I can remember, I’ve been passionate about rock music. And like many boys in the 1980s, I was a fan of the band, Rush. I distinctly remember the day I bought Moving Pictures, their breakout album and the first one I purchased with my own money. Upon arriving home, I laid the vinyl on our family room record player and out of the boxy speakers blasted the opening track, “Tom Sawyer”. The ‘A’ side of the album closed with “Limelight“, and I sat there so amazed at what I just heard that it took me a while before flipping over the record.
Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage.
The ambitions may have changed but reality hasn’t.
More first-time entrepreneurs have grander plans than those of the past. Gone is the desire to simply create a job for themselves or a small business that employs a few people. Today’s first-timers believe they can build the next Facebook, Starbucks, or Subway, and that’s good. Entrepreneurs need vision, ambition, and BHAGs. There’s nothing we can do – or should do – to temper their energy and enthusiasm. Continue reading
It used to be that an entrepreneur came up with an idea that he was passionate about, turned it into a product or service, then went out and tried to sell it. Over time, he would learn whether or not customers would buy it, but the passion kept him going through the ups and downs, twists and turns. To make the business take off required a great deal of creativity, ingenuity, and luck, which helped explain why so many of us used to call entrepreneurship a work of art. Continue reading
Let’s “teach” entrepreneurship the way it’s actually done in the real world.
Let’s use self-directed learning, where students have to figure out what to do next rather than giving them a syllabus, assigning them homework, and telling them what to read.
Let’s use trade books and blogs written by entrepreneurs who share personal startup experiences rather than textbooks that propose academic concepts and theories backed up by third-person examples. Continue reading
I believe entrepreneurship can’t be taught but I do believe it can be learned. My job is to help make that happen by being a facilitator, coach, and mentor rather than a teacher. Your job is to help make it happen by telling me how I can help you.
I believe entrepreneurship is learned when it mimics what entrepreneurs go through everyday: ambiguity, change, uncertainty, learning from failure, and celebrating small wins. Taking initiative, making decisions, and asking for help along the way. Having a vision you don’t deviate from and having a plan that you do deviate from. Always iterating and improving because it’s never good enough.
I believe entrepreneurship is learned by doing and thinking. I can “see” the doing based on the work you do but I can’t “see” the thinking. The closest I can come to that is by hearing what you have to say.
I believe in learning together. Each of us has only one brain capable of producing thoughts based on experiences, ideas, and talents. When we share those thoughts with others, everyone learns more. The more brains that share, the more exponential the learning becomes.
I believe learning goes to another level when we’re pushed outside our comfort zone but allowed to stay in our safety zone.
I believe learning is lifelong. What you learn in this course should be useful far and beyond the course, the academic year, and your degree.
- I believe I can help make you smarter and better. And it will require both of us to take a leadership role.
Brian Burkhart, founder of Square Planet, recently taught the Communicating & Presenting class for The Junto Institute. Brian came highly referred by several friends and colleagues and didn’t disappoint, generating the highest scores for our classes so far.
One of his key points (based on Simon Sinek’s “golden circle” concept) was that your best customers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Therefore, you should begin your communications with an “I believe” statement. Whether it’s a website, sales or investor pitch, job interview, or speaking engagement, starting with “I believe” helps explain why you’re doing what you’re doing and helps draw in an audience that shares the same beliefs (a.k.a. “target marketing”). Continue reading
If you think it’s hard now, just wait.
In the early years, it’s mostly about product development, market exploration, funding, and the first people. Later on, it becomes about new customers and repeat customers, hiring and firing, financing and investing. Your job as the leader becomes about team-building, motivation, branding, culture, legal issues, supply chain, strategic planning, and training. And don’t forget about occasionally bailing out employees, handling office break-ins, or fighting competitor lawsuits.
Want proof that it’s really hard? Think about where you are on the growth curve and then think about all the places you can turn to for help: incubators, accelerators, universities, development programs, angel networks, competitions, etc. It’s amazing how many resources there are. Not only is it easy to start a company, it’s also easy to help one that’s starting.
Where do you go once you move up the curve? Consulting firms, books, conferences, and maybe a few organizations? That’s it?
Not only is it hard to grow a company, it’s also really hard to help one that’s growing.