My CEA: Inside the Minds of CErial Entrepreneurs: Part II
Last month we heard from some CEA members about what it takes to be a “serial” entrepreneur. This month we learn even more, starting with resiliency.
To Tim Enwall, founder of Boulder, CO-based Revolv, Inc., resilience is a prerequisite of being an entrepreneur. “Every entrepreneur is comfortable with the statement, ‘I may have to start all over again if I pursue this dream.’ My wife and I had this explicit conversation when starting my first business in 1997. She said, ‘What’s the worst thing that happens if you pursue this dream? We live in an apartment and start over? We’ve done that. We can do that again.’” he recalls.
Failure in one form or another is part of the lifecycle of any business. Most entrepreneurs experience setbacks over which they ultimately prevail. The successful entrepreneur can focus on those things they learned, and they move forward with an unbridled optimism.
Anyone exploring an idea for a new business will run into pessimism and “voices of reason” that come both from others and from within, explains Enrique Muyshondt, who is in the final stages of bringing his own line of 3-D printers to market. “There’s always friction in business, especially small businesses. An entrepreneur has to be able to go against the naysayers and people telling you there are a thousand ways it can fail,” he says. Leading with your instincts and pushing through with tenacity and optimism, he believes, is far more successful than succumbing to fears of what could go wrong.
Charlie Hillman agrees. “It’s having persistence in the face of advice that you shouldn’t do what you’re doing,” he says. “A lot of people can’t imagine creating something from nothing,” he explains, “but an entrepreneur can.”
“What you find with most folks I work with is that they are unbelievably passionate about what they do,” says Mike Harris of Zonoff. “You end up eating, sleeping and breathing the business. It becomes your hobby,” he says. Mike used his passion to his advantage. A self-described “gadget guy,” he sees himself as his own target customer of the seamless connected-home experience that he is trying to bring to the “every man.” The passion he felt as both an entrepreneur and an end-user of his technology “allowed me to really put my heart into it,” he explained.
Being an entrepreneur often transcends a passion for a singular product, idea or skill. As Robert Heiblim explains, entrepreneurism is a state of mind. “It’s the difference between someone who’s working on her business, and one who is working in her business,” he says. “Someone passionate about woodworking may say, ‘I’m a carpenter, I build things,’” he explains. “An entrepreneur is more likely to see him- or herself in a different way: ‘I’m an entrepreneur in carpentry, I am constantly looking for ways to innovate my trade,’” says Robert. Entrepreneurs simply see themselves differently in relation to their passions and their business.
Many times passion flouts rational thinking and common sense. “I’ve often equated it to what I’ve heard women say after childbirth,” says serial entrepreneur Tim Enwall, ‘If I had known what it was going to be like, I might never have started down that path in the first place!’” He draws the parallel in principle (not pain), explaining that most would-be entrepreneurs have no idea of the obstacles, the competition, the cash-flow challenges, the liabilities, the potential for personal bankruptcy, to name just a few potential pitfalls, that come with starting a business. “And, even if they did rationally assess this,” he says, “their driving passion usually overcomes any of that other rational thinking.”