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Friday, February 27, 2009

What makes you an Entrepreneur?

Far too often TV glamorizes the entire lot of entrepreneurs as those who throw caution to the wind, put everything on the line and make a billion dollar bet on the "next big thing". Well - you don't have to work too long to start your own business to figure out that this is total BS. Starting a business is a much slower and more organic process. And as per the foundation of this Corporatepreneur blog - often the transition to business owner includes a long period of continuing to work a full time job while growing something on the side to the point that it could sustain you

From Wikipedia the definition of an entrepreneur is as follows:

An entrepreneur is an individual who efficiently and effectively combines the four factors of production. Those factors are land (natural resources), labor (human input into production using available resources), capital (any type of equipment used in production i.e. machinery) and Enterprise (intelligence, knowledge, and creativity.)

Entrepreneurship is often difficult and tricky, as many new ventures fail. Entrepreneur is often synonymous with founder. Most commonly, the term entrepreneur applies to someone who creates value by offering a product or service. Entrepreneurs often have strong beliefs about a market opportunity and organize their resources effectively to accomplish an outcome that changes existing interactions.

Some observers see them as being willing to accept a high level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue that opportunity, but the emerging evidence indicates they are more passionate experts than gamblers.

I think this is much more appropriate. An entrepreneur is not a haphazard toss of the dice but a longer term approach to finding opportunities that match your talents and turning it into something of value.

What's your experience with being an Entrepreneur?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thank goodness for the Corporatepreneur Blog!

I hate to toot our own horn - but I am so thankful for the Corporatepreneur Blog! I know it's early in our run here and who knows where this is going, but thank goodness we have a home for intelligent and real advice about entrepreneurship.

I was doing some research for a new blog post when this headline grabbed my attention "New Business Website Offers Support for Entrepreneurs". And I thought - sounds great! So I clicked on the article and then went to the site they referenced, and it came across to me as nothing but a "get rich quick / work from home" scam! (I feel that we need a cool acronym for the GRQ/WFM scam sites).

Here's a screen shot from a portion of that web page (not even 1/2 a page down):

This doesn't look like a site designed to help entrepreneurs - it looks like an attempt for someone to get rich quick by duping people attempting to get rich quick into scams. Don't fall for it! Hopefully by know you know that we believe entrepreneurship is a longer-term process about building something of value.

Though as much as I was again pissed off by this website, I can't say I was too surprised. One of the main reasons we started this blog was because we couldn't find anything out there quite like this. We wanted a place for intellectual minds to converse about entrepreneurship and we wanted a blog that WE were interested in following daily as well! (hence the entrepreneurial feeds to the right of the page as well as a new dilbert cartoon at the very bottom of the page everyday). We are going to continue to work hard to make THIS the place for entrepreneurs or wannabe-entrepreneurs. So feel free to comment with any improvements you'd like to see.

Maybe my entrepreneurial advice from all of this is if you keep looking and can't find something out there that you want - you must go and create it because there probably are plenty of others out there like you who would want the exact same thing.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tips for starting a business while working full time: Elance Blog

Came across this blog entry on Elance entitled "Tips for Incubating your Small Business Idea While Still Working Full-Time." Tip #5 smells like SEEFAD!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Paradox of Replacement Income

What is one of the first things you said when you started thinking about starting your own business? I am going to guess one of them was along the lines of "if only I could make as much money as I do in my [insert boring corporate job title] by starting my own business - I'd quit this [insert boring corporate job title] today!"

This theme is quite common and quite understandable. And hey - if you could instantly replace your corporate income by working for yourself and doing something you love - who wouldn't?

But - as you probably know by now - there are no "get rich quick" co-outs here on the Corporatepreneur Blog. And making money in your own business takes time. We know - we are 8 years into the Corporatepreneur world and it took us 6 years of running our own business before our business generated enough income to match that of our full-time corporate jobs. But then what? Did we quit working in the corporate world and start living the high life? No. And here's the surprising tale of how it may be likely that you would make the same decision to stay at your corporate job too.

Let's assume that you are planning to start your business in 2010. And just for conversation, let's say you are making $50,000 in your day job and get a 4% raise per year. Below is a graph depicting a 10 year time horizon for your side business income to become equal to that of your corporate job (at that time).

Not too bad right? In 10 years time you have made a substantial amount of money from your side business and it now equals your corporate income.

I first want to assure you that such a scenario is possible - I don't think it is an exaggerated "get rich quick" scenario but I do think it is a life changing situation not only financially but emotionally and in many ways spiritually (but that is for another blog).

So what's the problem? Well - in this hypothetical example - you now make enough money working for yourself that you could replace your corporate income and quit your full-time job for that crappy boss. Well - not so fast! Because this is a gradual process (it's really not because look how much faster your business income grew compared to a fair market salary increase in the corporate world - but that's what entrepreneurship is all about) - and it take 10 years for your incomes to be equal - you have now grown accustom to a lifestyle of making 1.5-2.0 times your corporate income alone. Maybe you have bought a new car or your wife has decided to stay home with the children as a result of this new side business windfall. Or maybe you have become an avid saver for retirement.

Whatever the reason - my caution is this - when you start out wishing you could just replace your corporate income with a side business you may find out that there really isn't a good time to take a 50% pay cut (reduce your income by half).

And this my friends - is one of the awkward stages of being a Corporatepreneur that this blog is all about. These are real life situations that anyone of us would love to have as a "problem" when we start out - but become a real challenge years into starting your own business.

I have been excited to write this blog because when it happened to me it took me by surprise - did it surprise you? Let us know by posting a comment.

PS - The income scenario above has been watered down. Below is a more "realistic" example of how your income might grow in a side business over 10 years. As you can see in the entrepreneurial world the financial gains can be as big as the variability. Entrepreneurs are not on a "pay scale" and often the growth of your business is unpredictable. It doesn't follow a nice curve! In fact - there is no guarantee that you will make the same amount year to year - making the leap to working for yourself full-time a challenge.


Monday, February 16, 2009

One small step for man

So a lot of people have these great ideas, but they say stuff like “I don’t have time.” Or “I don’t know how.” The answer to these questions (yes it’s another question) is: What’s the next step you CAN take? It doesn’t matter how small a step. It’s infinitely better than taking 0 steps. And if you can be disciplined enough to string together a bunch of these tiny steps, pretty soon you look back and you’re a ton further than you ever thought you’d be. Two proverbs come to mind.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

So what do you think is the most important bite? Or the most important step? You might think it’s the first one. But the most important step is the last step you took plus one. In other words, the next step. It doesn’t matter how small that next step is, as long as you’re taking that next step regularly you’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make.

Have you ever been to Disney World? You get in one of those really long lines for a ride. You step to the end and look at the miles of people in line, winding back and forth like a snake about 20 times before it goes into a building, and who knows how long it goes for inside that building. So you get in line and hunker down for the long haul. As the people in front of you step forward, you take a few steps forward. A few minutes of conversation later, the line moves up another couple steps. You follow. After a few more minutes, you turn the first bend and double back and for the first time you can look at all the schmucks who are BEHIND you in line. And it goes way back. By simply getting in line, taking a few steps at a time, you’re suddenly a ton further than everyone else.

I was having lunch with someone recently, and we were throwing around some business ideas. Then he said to me “boy, you’re so much further than I’ll ever be at starting a business.” Which was really shocking to me because I haven’t even gotten anything to make enough money to even buy him lunch yet. But I took a look back, and if you would’ve told my 2 years ago self that I would even be talking about revenues and expenses at all, and that someone who say that to me, I would’ve been really happy with my future self. And it all started because I started dabbling with some php (which I still suck at) and one of the co-authors on this blog gave me about 3 lines of code to help me out.

I’ll give you another analogy. I’ve been trying to get myself stronger, so a friend challenged me to do 25 pushups by a certain time. My baseline was about 20 at that time. And man was it a struggle to get to 20. One time I got to 20 and was just about to die when I told myself, heck, let’s shoot for 21 just to break that psychological barrier. So I pushed and got 21. The next few times I hit 21. So then I shot for 22. I struggled but got to 22 comfortably. I don’t remember how long ago that was (the friend and I never did follow up on the 25 limit) but I can tell you now I’m at 34. All by taking one seemingly insignificant step at a time.

So go out and figure out what’s one small step you can take. Be creative. If you want to fly to outer space, the first step is to Google “space tourism” and figure out how much it costs. The next step may be to check out this blog to figure out how to start to make that kind of money. Or it maybe to Google “php” and figure out what that is.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Call of the Entrepreneur on Fox Business Channel

Just a few weeks ago I found and posted the trailer from the Acton Institute video called the Call of the Entrepreneur. In this video Rev. Robert A. Sirico is interviewed on America's Nightly Scorecard to discuss Acton Media's documentary and entrepreneurship in general.

There are two things I took away from this video:
1) Entrepreneurs are not about greed and money but about maximizing their talents in production and efficiency for society (Sorry - I've been reading the Wealth of Nations again).
2) Entrepreneurship is not a religious evil but maybe even a calling to put your god given abilities to work for mankind.

Maybe those are too touchy-feely for you but I strongly believe entrepreneurship is more about following your passions than following greed. See for yourself in this video:


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rise of the Entrepreneur

I do believe that Entrepreneurship is on the rise. There are far too many intelligent people working full time for companies. Soon these entrepreneurial types realize that they feel suffocated in the corporate world. They are full of ideas but poor in power and responsibilities to influence large companies in a meaningful way. They begin to seek an outlet for their creative energies, they desire to be more and have more. They focus on results rather than politics and seniority.

We are those people. And if you are reading this, you are probably one of us.

So it goes without saying that we have pseudonyms or "pen names" when we write. No need to explain - you get it.

So here's the problem, entrepreneurship is on the rise, but we are still viewed as "odd balls." Viewed as people who just can't be happy with "the way things are" - the status quo. But it wasn't always like this. Let's review.

Most people today work in the corporate world. We go to work everyday - working for someone else ("the man"). But this is a carry over from the industrial age. A time when people were mere cogs in the industrial revolution. A time when workers clocked in and clocked out, happy to receive a steady pay for steady work. But the problem with this era was that people became lazy. They no longer wanted to think for themselves. Just show up at work, do what you are told, and collect your check. After years and years of this you will have seniority over the newer generation and you can tell them how "things have always been done here."

But before the industrial age, almost everyone was an entrepreneur! And by that I mean they owned their own business, had to manage their own marketing, supply, everything. People back then were blacksmiths, coopers, farmers, bakers. Then mass production came along and no longer where people blacksmithing their own tools, they now worked on the assembly line for craftsman. I am exaggerating but you get the point. Soon the mom and pop shops were taken over by corporations who mass produced everything. Voila! The industrial age.

Another terrible hangover from the industrial age is management. Suddenly mass labor required organization which gave rise to a highly esteemed position of manager (typically someone with seniority!). The problem with managers is that very often they have no wealth creation skills of their own, or they have forgotten them. These are people who rely on the corporate world for their strength and power and get work done through others.

Then came along the rise of the information age. Suddenly anyone with a computer can own a business. The barriers to enter the business world on your own decreased exponentially. No longer did you need large sums of money to buy equipment or employee assembly line workers. Suddenly the processing power of computers on the internet gave the individual power again.

So here we are. In the era of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell. All of whom literally started businesses out of their own garages. What's the point of this whole blog? Well times - they are a changing, and the more you hold on to working the status quo - the further behind you are! Don't believe me? (and why should you we don't know each other and I am using a fake name to disguise my identity from my "day job"). Below is a chart I took from the Tax Foundation's 2006 report: "Putting a Face on Tax Returns".

As you can see today, the wealthiest people in America tend to be those who own their own business. Isn't it time you start yours?


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Retreating back to the corporate world

I found this facinating article about a 29 year old entrepreneur in Kenya who had take a full-time job because when the economy turned sour she could no longer make it on her own with her business.

I think some may see this as a cautionary tale about why the awkward stage of the Corporatepreneur (where you work full-time in the corporate world but have a side business as well) can be a prolonged period and it is difficult to know when to make the leap.

I will give this article a different spin. If you make the leap - what is the worst thing that could happen? You'd have to get a job again. Like you have now. Only you gave yourself a shot to follow a different path.

Someone once told me (that's what I always say when I heard something but have no idea where to go and find the source again) that anyone can go get a job. You can always become an employee again. I don't mean to say you'll find the best job ever - but really the worst case scenario is having to work for the man again - and that's where most entrepreneurs are coming from anyways.

So the risks attached to taking the "big leap" sometimes aren't nearly as large as we make them out to be.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pimp my Home Office

It's never too early to start planning how awesome your home office is going to be when you are working for yourself and can't spend the incoming fortune on a home office remodel fast enough.

Fortunately my wife watches HGTV and while I usually can't stand to see what they are doing - they have a cool section online featuring the best Home Offices.

I also found this great article from Inc.com about Setting Up a Home Office.

(Where are the best places to work outside of the home? Check out Best Places to SEEFAD and Pimp My Road Office)

Since I have always wanted a "Masterpiece Theater" home office, here's a few pictures I could find close to my dream home office:

How would you describe your dream home office?


Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Call of the Entrepreneur

As you might remember from the Steve Tomlinson video I posted - I am a big fan of the idea behind the Acton Institute and the life of meaning work. Apparently they are coming out with a documentary about entrepreneurship and here is the trailer.

The trailer for a new documentary being released by the Acton Institute that focuses on the stories of three entrepreneurs. A study of the call to create wealth and the benefit of business and free markets to society. Check out http://www.calloftheentrepreneur.com for information about premieres and related materials.


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