"Around the table advice" for new entrepreneurs...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

A short while ago I found myself "around the table" engaged in the conversations of business and the opportunities to be found in an ever shifting economy; the odd bourbon*, MBA's, CA's, CPA's, Six Sigma functional excellent "black belt's", CFA's and decades of leadership fuelled the discussion.

I suppose it was inevitable that someone would eventually blurt out, "Is it me, or is everybody today an entrepreneur?"

This, along with another round of bourbon, ignited passionate discussion that ebbed and flowed around the topic of entrepreneurship; opinions and examples seemed endless.

With most of the conversation still fresh, and my memory holding up as much as could be expected (after a bourbon or two), I wanted to get the highlights down "on paper" - I might as well start with what one of the entrepreneurs said:

"Just because you don't want to work for someone does not make you an entrepreneur" - He went on to say it's also not something you call yourself between "gigs" while you look for a "job"; he was rather emphatic as he said it's all about a fire inside to create and own something sustainable that you can call "yours". He did admit he couldn't work for someone though. 

Although an "idea or invention" is important, it is all about creating a viable business that "generates revenue" - Revenue will catch the attention of investors and will "feed" cash to your insatiable business.

There is a big difference between being "CEO of a company" and being "CEO of a business" - The CEO of a company entails less than $100 dollars and half an hour on a government web site to register, whereas being the CEO of a business entails building out a product or service to sell, creating a process from order to cash, involves an endless amount of time to expand the business, hiring people to lead, etc, etc, etc.

There was a good amount of discussion and examples of how entrepreneurs needed to really, really, really understand the cost structure of managing their business - There were more than a few examples of CEOs who quickly ran out of "cash" because they didn't understanding their processes, didn't understand the cost structure of the business and assumed there was an endless amount of "easy" money to be raised. Declaring bankruptcy, having to tell investors there is no return on their investment, and having to lay off people is a ghost that may haunt you longer than you think; people will remember and think twice the next time.

As an entrepreneur you have to be honest with yourself and ask, "Is my idea a solution looking for a problem?" - If you do not have a clear line of sight to the problem you are solving for and if you can't plainly articulate it, you will most likely have great difficulty selling your idea because there isn't a customer need - The harsh reality is you may think you have the "greatest idea ever" but no one else does.

Entrepreneurship is not predicated on age and thinking an entrepreneur has to be under 30 is asinine - More than one person pointed out that they've seen entrepreneurs of all ages and the most successful ones were those who had cross pollinated age and experience in their business.

And this leads to the final point...

Self-awareness; the best entrepreneurs seem to be self-aware - They understand their strengths and weaknesses and hire people who can fill in the business gaps.  

In the end, someone pointed out that much of what we were talking about applied just about everywhere, but as an entrepreneur the "tolerance for mistakes" is so much less because there's little insulation to absorb them. From there I think we shifted to our "selfie ready" Prime Minster and the next round was ordered. 

Feel free to join us around the table the next time we get together. You can buy the first round.


* I'm not advocating the need for alcohol to have a good discussion but I will add there is something about having a Woodford Reserve in hand that just makes the conversation a little bit more enjoyable.