The Secret Life of Entrepreneurs- Part 1

the secret life of entrepreneurs

Part 1

September marks the beginning of another exciting school year for students of all ages from kindergarten to graduate school. Parents work hard to reign their free-wheeling summer children back into the patterns of structure and study and focus of fall children. Teachers are pumped to prepare well-rounded students for service to the world, dishing up the just the right portions of reading, writing, and arithmetic, all in the hopes of being the one teacher who inspires them to greatness. These basic skills are essential, under-girding all the others to provide the framework for success.

The entrepreneurial journey is not much different from the student’s journey. (No summers off being the exception of course!) It also requires structure and discipline and focus and a framework of basic skills. There is such a thing as a well-rounded entrepreneur–one prepared for the future and prepared for greatness–after having spent the time mastering the basic requirements. I spent a few moments searching online to see what had already been written on the subject. “Essential qualities of a successful entrepreneur” yielded 399,000 posts–mostly lists. Some listed only 6 essential characteristics, some had 8, others 9, some 12, and others with 25 and more. Obviously we do not agree on what is essential.  

Yet there are essential basic skills required for the entrepreneurial journey. And despite the industry, there are also common entrepreneurial paths. All of these paths require at least some skills that are more basic than basic. In comparing the actual qualities in the lists, I found most were simply characteristics of being a well-rounded adult. From small business survival statistics, it is apparent that many of us have yet to become one.

Yet maturity happens in the journey. Few entrepreneurs start with everything they need, even with an MBA in hand. I, myself, am one who learned on the fly, and not sure if I have grown up yet. But this is what I love about small business. It grows ordinary people. It provides opportunity to become more than they ever dreamed they could be. In the start-up phase, we are all full of hope and imagine ourselves capable of anything. We are determined not to be derailed. Hope is good. But we don’t know what we don’t know. (I have been there. I was unaware that my tenaciousness was just one step away from stubborness.)

In the beginning, we are blissfully ignorant of what lies ahead, unaware that our baby business will eventually expose every flaw in our character. We are never prepared. We will be the last to know the source of the problems–until the same problems continue to repeat themselves. If we are observant, we will recognize a pattern. More observant still, and we will recognize that we are the common denominator. After that, if we are brave and fearless, we will face it square, and improve our own character. Or not, as the case may be. We might also choose to play the blame game, and pass the buck to some unsuspecting employee. But if we are willing to learn, small business will open our minds and our hearts, and mold us into a bigger person, with an enlarged heart. Not the bad kind of enlarged heart, but the good kind. One with deep humility and patience for other homo sapiens who have the same flaw. It is like therapy for the unsuspecting. And seriously good therapy at that. And we will laugh about it. As C.S. Lewis says, “Humility, after the first shock, is a cheerful virtue.”

So all this month, we will be talking about the basic traits of successful entrepreneurship–not accounting, and not HR per se, but those that seem more basic than basic. In 26 years of business, we have learned most of them in the school of hard knocks. And in all honesty, we are still working on some of them. I will tell you about them as we go along. We have watched other businesses struggle to obtain them too. We are happy to share what we have learned with you, in hopes that you can avoid some of the pitfalls in your own journey.

Join us all this month, for The Secret Life of Entrepreneurs. We hope to be the one who inspires you to greatness.

Why do we at etc!graphics inc, a graphic design company, care about the way you manage your business?  Because your graphics will always give away your internal management. The more clear your vision, the more lucid your marketing, and the better your visual graphics. Join us all this month as we share ways to help your small business sustain and grow in a crowded marketplace. Etc!Graphics is devoted to helping you, the small business owner, think like a marketer.