From time to time I am reminded of something. I am a square peg in a mostly round hole world.
This is not a news flash to me. I have known this since I can remember. I never thought the same way as most people. I do not act or have the same mannerisms as most. My sense of humor can be downright despised. I even dress and look different than most.
None of it is done on purpose or as some grand plan to seperate myself from the crowd. I just do not think like most other people do.
While this mental state will of course cause problems in my life it is also the reason why I am an entrepreneur and a successful one at that. I don’t think like everyone else. I look at everything through different eyes than most. I see potential where most see nothing and I see nothing where most find interest.
People find it strange that I can probably count the number of fiction books I have read in my whole life on my fingers and toes and yet I read constantly. I have always found it a huge waste of my time to dive into the “fantasy land” of a fiction book. Why would I read about Elves or spaceships when I could be reading about something that actually exists? Why sit around fantasizing about a life when I could be making one? When I was a child I read the World Book Encyclopedias for fun. While others read comic books i was reading about the average rainfall in Brazil. As an adult I read business and history books. I also read bio’s from time to time. I read 20-30 books a year at least. I read a fiction book about 3-4 years ago. If i am going to read I want to get something out of it beyond and escape. I like my life, why would I want to escape it?
I hear people all the time say “I would do anything for a body like that”. I caught myself saying it 6-7 months ago. Right after I said it I said “Except work out and eat a proper diet apparently.”. So instead of being a person that says that I changed my diet and started working out 5-6 days a week. I hate damn near all of it but I have a long term goal and right now I look pretty damn good without a shirt on. Most people just make excuses as to why they can not look that way. I decided to challenge myself to do it. I thought about posting pictures, as I take one at least every month, to show that it is not impossible even at 44 years of age.
I do not see work the same way others do. I see work as a chance to further what I am doing every day, not as a burden I need to time in for and clock out at 5 about and then forget all about it. I like getting work done. I like creating. I like starting a business from nothing more than a silly idea in a notebook and turning it into something that can generate an income for not only myself but the people I employ. I like seeing the results of my work happen in front of me and that is rewarding.
I do not vacation well. I find it an over-used feeling and an emotion trap. People whine about how badly they need a vacation when they work 40 hours a week at a job they literally check out of for the other 128 hours in a week. Maybe if you did not spend 100 of those hours dreading what you did for a living and hating every moment leading up to it you wouldn’t need 4 weeks of vacation a year. I love what I do. Even when I worked for someone else I took pride in what I did and being the best at it. I did not always look forward to my job, but it certainly was not something I needed so much time away from.
I could go on and on but I guess what I am saying here is that it takes a certain mentality to be an entrepreneur and it goes well beyond just business sense. That will come with experience. It takes much more. It takes sacrifice. It takes devotion. Mostly it takes being the bent fork in a drawer full of perfectly normal silverware.
One thing I try to express on here, probably quite poorly, is the mental state needed to be an entrepreneur. It is easy to type out what that means. Probably because it is different for everyone.
In the talks I have done I have tried to explain that if safety and security are high on your list of needs in life then punching a time-clock is probably the better choice for you.
The reason this is on my mind right now is that my latest venture is heading into areas I am unfamiliar with. While I am very familiar with many aspects of it, creation, marketing, sales, execution, being able to pivot ideas, and what not I am also VERY unfamiliar with certain aspects.
Because of the nature of the business I could try to Boot-Strap it (Boot Strapping is paying for it all yourself and doing most everything yourself until it generates enough income to bring on others and expand that way) BUT, if I do that I am looking at much slower growth and the real possibility of just plain running out of money before I can get the business going well enough to support itself. So here I am searching for “angel” investment to get us rolling fast so that I can then get Venture Capital investment. This means talking to a lot of people. A LOT of people. Telling them what we have and being rejected again and again. I do not care what any person tells you, no one likes rejection. Its how you handle it that really matters. I tend to get angry. I get angry because I must not have done a good job explaining or selling whatever it was that I was pitching. I get angry with myself.
Now anyone that knows me knows full well that anger is a motivating emotion for me in so many aspects of my life. Almost every business I have started was started out of anger or frustration. I try to be a better husband and father because it makes me angry when I see people ignoring their spouse or children. I try to be honest with people, even to the point of being a jerk, because I want honesty in return. I despise small talk and “yes people”.
That all said I will most likely be traveling and meeting with people who will not see the vision I have and it will frustrate me and probably anger me. That is not as appealing as it may sound. I hate…….HATE being away from my family. They are easily the most important thing in my life and when I am not by them I get mopey.
So while I am entering something amazing and exciting in the world of business I am also aware of the path ahead of me. It’s going to have plenty of down days.
So I guess what I am saying through all of this is that if you want to be a true entrepreneur you have to be able to think long term. You have to know that there will be short term pain in order to achieve long term bliss.
Or I could just be whiney because it is cold outside
I’ve spent the last 2 days at Mobcon in Minneapolis. I was invited to present in the Mobdemo competition as an up-and-coming software system with Otterology.
I presented yesterday morning and will find out today around 5 today if we win. If we win we get $25,000. Super cool and can really help us get this monkey going.
The weird part is I am not a software guy. I could not write a line of code that would ever make sense. I could not build a website if you gave me a week. I’m a guy with an idea who then brought in people to do his evil bidding.
Honestly it makes me the best possible boss for this industry. I have NO IDEA what can not be done. I just say make it happen.
A lot of the conversation seems to be based on trying to use technology just because its there. We started our company because we had a problem and could not find a solution, not because we wanted a neat new toy.
I should not be surprised. I’m surrounded by people that eat, drink, and sleep tech. I believe if something does not actually make my business and/or life easier then what the hell is it there for?
So here I sit, unable to understand the language they speak and nodding my head.
The guy speaking right now, Alexander Muse, is the founder of Shopsavvy. This guy and I may share a brain. I get the feeling he is much more tech savvy but he is hitting points I find amusing and interesting.
Oh well, more coffee and handshaking……
Here we are again on a Friday and while most people are looking at the weekend as a relaxing getaway I am not
2 days ago I was asked to present Otterology at Mobcon next week. Mobcon is a HUGE event where anyone is is anyone in mobile technology will be. It is quite an honor as only a few people get chosen to compete in the New mobile tech competition.
So here I am on a Friday night trying to get together my 3 1/2 minute pitch to dazzle the onlookers and walk away the winner. This weekend will be spent writing and re-writing and then trying to commit to memory what I have written down. Anyone that knows my memory knows what fun this will be, BUT this is a huge opportunity for us to shine. A chance to get real feedback and people in the industry talking about what we are doing.
In case you are wondering what we are doing Otterology converts CSV reports from Square into an inventory tracking system. It also generates complete reports on sales, inventory, Profit and Loss, and everything else a $50,000 system will do BUT it does it on an ipad, iphone, laptop, or even a desktop and it can be used for just 40 bucks a month.
What we are doing is changing the entire way business can be done for the small and mid sized businesses who can not afford $50,000 systems that are rigid and limited.
We have also figured out how to make it work with Paypal and Shopify so I guess we will just begin taking over the world right now.
Keep thinking big or small, but make it happen. Planning is fun, but action gets shit done.
Enjoy your weekend slackers. Some of us will be working on making your life easier.
I am what is called a serial entrepreneur. What it means is that I have started multiple businesses and have no intention on stopping until I run out of ideas. The problem of course being I NEVER run out of ideas.
I owe this all to my first business. It gave me the money, the time, and the confidence to try more things. This is both a blessing and a curse.
You see I like to work. I like to analyze things. I like to figure out how to make something into reality. I like to compete, and I like to win. To quote Moneyball ” I hate losing. I hate losing more than I like winning.”. It really is that bad.
When I start a new business idea I begin with vetting the idea to see if it even has the wheels to work. Once I do that I vet it again and try and see what the flaws are in my plan. I look at the customers that would use or buy what I have. I try to figure out how I am going to get those customers. THEN I look at the competition. I size them up and look at all their weaknesses and try to put together something that overcomes all the weaknesses they have so that what I have is superior in every way. I do not want to enter a marketplace. I want to dominate it in every way and become the name in that business. No reason to race for second place.
Several of my companies have started simply because I was angry that I could not get a certain service or product and figured I could not be alone in this or that the ones that existed sucked so badly that I knew I could do better. More often than not I have been right.
Customer service sucks at most companies. When I started Wedding Day Sparklers I answered the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Why? Because it freaked people out. They could not believe someone would be answering a phone at 5 on a Saturday. I used to always say, why not. How tough was it really? I forward the calls to my cell phone and program in the WDS number so when it rings I know it is a business call. It was not ringing non-stop. It was easy to do and every person that called was amazed.
Is it really that simple? Ya, actually it is.
We are launching a software program that will kick everything that exists in the balls very soon. One thing I am insisting on is 24 hour help. Either live IM or phone or whatever. I have written emails to tech support before to get responses 3 days later. That does not help. I want anyone who is willing to give me money for my product to be able to actually use it and get questions answered.
Imagine when you go shopping at a grocery store. I am constantly amazed when I see long lines. You are making your customers wait to give you money? That seems so strange to me.
Speaking of that, here is a great story on how to make people happy. I was at the grocery store on Dec 23rd or 24th a few years back. The place is, of course, a complete zoo. The lines are long. everyone is cranky and then…..BLAM the credit card acceptance stops working. So here we are, in line, with groceries, and waiting for the store to get it working. People are getting crabby. Real crabby. Myself I was ready to walk away from the cart of food I had. I was really getting myself worked up when all of a sudden the store manager just walks up with several packages of cookies and says “would you like a cookie?”. I look at him and with a huge smile said yes. Now I was happy and munching on a cookie and so were the other people.
Just a cookie. That is all it took to calm the herd that was about to tear that place apart.
Sometimes people just want a cookie.