Want solid wisdom from over 600 high-impact entrepreneurs? To be exact — 636 of the most successful entrepreneurs and game-changers in America?
Yes, me too.
Jumping at the chance to get a sneak peek at a special report created by two entrepreneurial behemoths in Ernst & Young and the Kauffman Foundation — I quickly found 8 nicely packaged bits of wisdom to share with you.
Each year, Ernst & Young, in collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation, select the Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists from nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs.
And according to Bryan Pearce, Director, Entrepreneur of the Year and Venture Capital Advisory Group at Ernst & Young: “Our Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners have ‘cracked the code’ for achieving extraordinary growth in challenging economic times.”
Well, if they’ve cracked the code — you and I need to see it.
So without further ado — let’s peel it back and extract 8 reasons these entrepreneurs are in contention for Entrepreneur Of The Year and how you can apply this code to your own entrepreneurial aspirations:
1.) Have a Unique Perspective on Risk
This one seems like a no-brainer. What other segment of society is willing to step out with crazy ideas like entrepreneurs? But here is the deal for those of you on the fence — get your tail off it. According to the report, “a majority of entrepreneurs indicate they believe entrepreneurs are born — not made”.
So see? You were born to do this. But you have to take a risk and start. You have zero — repeat zero — chance of winning the game if you’re not in it. Dreaming of one day winning the Entrepreneur of the Year award? Good luck unless you change your perspective on risk. Starting today.
2.) Instill Passion in Great Teams
Speaking with Venture Capitalist Paul Jones the other day — he told me the leading cause of high impact entrepreneurial failure is due to team dysfunction and breakdown.
And according to this report; “These entrepreneurs and their companies overwhelmingly cite people as their leading priority. In addition, they really differentiate themselves is in their ability to communicate their vision and instill their passion to their team. More than 40% cite this as their biggest strength.”
Bottom line? Leading entrepreneurs cannot do it alone and they know it. They’ve carefully selected the right people to work with and they genuinely care about their well-being. Inspirational leaders — are you one of them?
3.) Demonstrate Resilience and Rapid Recovery
Tenacious as a bull-dog — rock star entrepreneurs simply don’t give up. Yes — they get things wrong from time to time. And yes — they get knocked on their rear once in awhile. But guess what? They get up and try, try again. Most times in a new direction.
Ernst & Young uncovered this; “Everyone makes mistakes, including successful entrepreneurs. More than 30% of the entrepreneurs acknowledged having made one or more bad decisions or encountering significant difficulty in execution. But while all businesses make bad decisions from time to time, the best entrepreneurs and their teams seem to be more resilient. Encountering obstacles, they are able to set a new course and rapidly recover.”
4.) Embrace Innovation
Hurling through space at the speed of 67,000 miles per hour. Can you imagine it? Yes — that’s us here on planet earth as we fly around the sun.
Now take the break neck pace of technology and knowledge advancement we’re experiencing in our current time. Dare I say it’s whipping along at the same ridiculous speed. Which means you better build a culture of innovation into your business lest you get run over from behind.
According to the report; “Entrepreneurial companies are the predominant sources of radical innovations. While older and larger companies can also innovate effectively, more established companies tend to resist radical innovation that might displace their existing revenue streams in the short term. Successful entrepreneurs know their ability and propensity for innovation can make them an attractive investment, acquisition or partnership target.”
Key takeaway? You better always be thinking ahead about the next big thing.
5.) Focus on Core Competencies
Basically, the best entrepreneurs become laser focused on the things they do best and outsource the rest. Perfectly rational — but you’d be surprised at the number of entrepreneurs who miss this part. You simply cannot be all things to all people — and you should never try. So nail down those things you and your team really excel at and focus on those.
As Entrepreneur, and CEO of Social Media Group, Maggie Fox so eloquently stated; “If you have any more than three priorities; you have no priorities.”
And Ernst & Young with Kauffman backs this in their findings; “High-growth entrepreneurs appropriately partner with other corporations to carry out certain infrastructure and technology needs; administrative functions; sales channels; manufacturing; distribution and regulatory compliance. This enables more rapid, flexible and cost-effective scalability as the business grows.”
6.) Pursue Expansion
“Just keep swimming… just keep swimming.” – Dory
Yes — the best entrepreneurs keep swimming. They keep pursuing innovation and they keep growing their companies. And not necessarily in the “grow or die” mantra. Smart, strategic growth and expansion.
Ernst & Young discovered; “The majority of the entrepreneurs indicate they are continuing to expand their businesses in both domestic and developed global markets. And many, especially those with revenues greater than $1 billion, indicate they are expanding into emerging global markets.”
Now certainly as a startup you’re not quite at the 10 figure mark. But don’t think smart expansion and growth don’t apply to you. So even if you’re at the 7 or 8 figure mark; no time to rest on your laurels. Just follow Dory.
7.) The Right Capital At The Right Time
No question capital is a biggie among both startups and the best entrepreneurs in America. It certainly ranks at the top as the biggest “pain in the you know what” I’ve heard from aspiring and startup entrepreneurs.
So what to do about it? Take heed at the multiple opportunities we have to access capital from multiple sources. Angels, Super Angels, VCs, banks, credit lines, family, friends, your own savings and if you’re really ruthless, your own mom’s savings.
According to the report; “Entrepreneurs have accessed a wide range of funding sources while growing their businesses. Nearly 50% report raising venture capital, angel investment or private equity. Roughly 33% cite the use of personal funds, while another 25% access bank loans. And, 16% received funds from friends and family.”
8.) Preserve What’s Been Built
Although this is a nugget from some power hitting entrepreneurs — not sure I am fully buying into it. Yes — there is no question you want to “cling to what is good — and abhor what is evil”; or in other words; work towards preserving all the wonderful things you have built into your company. But the trouble is what hides under the rug during your preservation mode. Call it “complacency”.
In my mind, this is one of the reasons those big 800 pound gorilla companies start falling behind. Unless you also create a culture of innovation (#4 above) — you’ve got be careful things don’t turn into petrified wood.
Just ask those companies profiled in Clayton M. Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma”. (Well, actually you can’t ask them because they got wiped out and aren’t here anymore.)
But nonetheless, here is the discovery from Ernst & Young; “Successful entrepreneurs look to preserve those company qualities that made them a market leader. Their four top concerns as they grow and mature are preserving company culture (52%), attracting and maintaining top talent (44%), protecting and enhancing brand and reputation (38%) and retaining best customers (30%).”
But again — beware of the big bad wolf lurking under the rug.
There’s your super 8 strategies — straight from the mouths of 636 entrepreneurs who are leading the way here in America.
NOTE: If you don’t know me, I’m Eric. Husband, father & life-long entrepreneur…
If you’re an entrepreneur, let’s you and I connect right here.
Seriously. Here’s a killer formula:
Your Wisdom + My Wisdom = More Success
My email is: eric at mightywisemedia dot com.