Be a Kick-Butt Entrepreneur

On 01/20/2012, in Business, Entrepreneurship, by Jordan Wilson
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Many readers aspire to become successful entrepreneurs.

Most never take the chance.

“I do not have a great business idea.” “I am not a high-tech person like Steve Jobs and those are the only areas for young entrepreneurs.” “I do not have the money to launch a new venture.””I have too much on my plate to find time to start a new business.””I have no experience running a small business.”

There are tons of reasons why would-be entrepreneurs never actually become small business owners. So it is always good to read examples of how people in the same shoes as you (or worse off), managed to succeed. 

Inspirational Entrepreneurs

CNNMoney.com provides some good role models in Be a Kick-Butt Entrepreneur. If you need inspiration to start a small business, these people should provide a boost.

Note that the small business cited do not require degrees in rocket science or more investment capital than possessed by Bill Gates.

The keys to success are ….

Well, how about we let the entrepreneurs tell us themselves.

Keys to Entrepreneurial Success

Halfaker & Associate

Army Captain Dawn Halfaker lost an arm while serving in Iraq. She “worked her butt off” to build a consulting firm for defence contractors. Today it has more than 100 employees.

“Have a vision. Follow your passion. The money will come,” she said.

Elohim Cleaning Contractors

Single mother Sirena Elohim gave birth to twins while still in high school. Starting with $200 in seed money and working from home she began a cleaning service for construction sites. Today the business has 60 employees and sales of $2 million.

“Have a dream, but write it down. Then find a mentor* to help you make your plan a reality.”

*Note to nephews everywhere – uncles make terrible mentors.

Delicious Bite

Susan Cabrera had a business idea but could not attract capital. She finally funded her venture through family and began a company making Latin meals. Today, Delicious Bites are in more than 700 stores and sales will reach $1 million for the year.

“The storms may be strong, but there’s always an umbrella” and tenacity, she said, “No matter how many rocks you encounter on the road…just jump over them and keep your goal in sight.”

Native American Intellectual Property Enterprise Council

At “rock bottom”, David Petite found himself living in his car. But with “a personal commitment to better his life” and an “angel investor”, Mr. Petite set-up a small technology company. Today, he has received “50 patents worldwide” for his business.

“I learned to see failures as great lessons,” he said. “Look in the mirror and say ‘I am going to make a difference for the people around me’ and you will be rewarded,”

Hacienda Mexican Foods

Lydia Gutierrez and her husband intended to create a national business selling Mexican foods. That is, until her husband died unexpectedly. On her own, Ms. Gutierrez continued to build and expand the company. Today, Hacienda Mexican Foods has annual sales of $10 million.

Lydia believes respecting her employees is the key to her success. “Those that walk with others never walk alone,” she said. She added that hopeful entrepreneurs should seek out a mentor. “Everybody needs their own angel,” she said.

ViSalus

Ryan Blair began his odyssey in a “L.A. crack house”. Investing “his last few dollars” to buy back a failed company, Mr. Blair started anew and retooled the business model. Today ViSalus earns $20 million annually.

“I couldn’t ever accept failure as an option,” said Blair. “Give your idea a shot. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Lessons For Aspiring Entrepreneurs

1. All the cited entrepreneurs had significant obstacles in the way of their success.

War injury, teenage pregnancy, lack of capital, living in a car, husband dying, crack user. All these small business owners had problems equal to, or likely greater, than almost everyone reading this post.

I might exclude my niece and nephew from this group as both have major hurdles to surmount. My niece is actually a very bright girl. But having had to endure such a brother these last 20 years must have done some permanent damage. And my nephew, well let’s just say that he was snowmobiling at the lake the day God was handing out skill sets.

2. The business ideas were not earthshaking.

Consulting in your area of knowledge, cleaning service, food preparation, weight loss.

With the exception of Mr. Petite, the entrepreneurial ideas were quite simple and did not require advanced technical expertise.

3. The businesses were not overly capital intensive.

There is no clear information in the article on most of the start-up costs. But when you look at the business models, they are all scalable operations.

Start small (single person consultant, $200 working out of a bedroom, etc.) and build the business over time.

Initially, it appears no public offerings, no huge bank debt, etc., were required. To the extent capital was needed, family and/or angels were the answer.

You may have to give up a bit of ownership and/or control to a third party financier, but it can accelerate your growth. Just go into any arrangements with your eyes wide open. This is the business of the venture capitalist and he will have the edge in negotiations. Do not sign a bad contract and then wake up one day to find that you have been ousted from your own company.

4. Clear vision, solid planning, hard work, and learning from mistakes are the keys to success.

You may have the best idea in the world.

But if you lack any of the above, you have a high probability of failure.

And you may not require the most unique or high-tech business idea.

But if you have a vision, plan, and proper work ethic, you have a better chance of success.

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