Tuesday, 05 January 2010 07:31

Float like a Butterfly....sting like a bee

Written by  Sterling Ball
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I am a card carrying entrepreneur.

America was built on the backs of passionate entrepreneurs. Every success story, publicly traded company and institution today started as entrepreneurs and somehow lost their way. Here is my perspective.

My best analogy is the caterpillar. The slink along the ground and crawl and do what they want. They somehow stumble into this process that they don't quite understand....its called a cocoon. After awhile they break out and become a butterfly and sail off to great heights. The only problem is that they end up too far from the ground...That's OK because they have created an opportunity for the next cocoon. Distance from the ground creates opportunity.

I think one of the problems is that our programming of success is all whacked out. In surfing some think that the reward is on the beach on the podium. I think its the time in the tube. I think its the immersion in the process and not the podium.

Living in the desert I am surrounded with people who thought the goal was the economic finish line and they are like groundhogs day...same foursome, same time. They sold their relevancy....They were lions and now they are duffers. They usually have developed a substance problem along with a gambling problem.

But back to the loss of entrepreneurship. Its not like losing your virginity...You remember that. It is gradually distancing yourself from your customer and your product. Symbolically the exec keeps moving to the top floor instead of keeping their offices on the ground floor. The further the exec rises physically the more likely they are creating the opportunity for that next determined caterpillar.

I get several calls a week with offers to "take some money off the table" My business and lifes work has now been buzz-worded into a piece of furniture. What they are telling me is that they can load me down with debt and with their unique and talented professionals they can value engineer me into a coma of non relevance.

Signs that you are losing your entrepreneurial spirit:

1. You start every sentence with "At the end of the day" My current pet peeve....At the end of the day I have dinner and try to make it to 9:30.

2. You stop using your own product.

3. You dread consumer contact.

4. You can't answer a question regarding your product or services with out blackberrying a junior marketing exec.

5. You hire high priced idiots to ask strangers questions about your product and its applications. This is called 'market research' or 'focus groups'. These are the same monotones that call you during dinner.

6. You outsource everything but have more guys in suits shuffling papers. You don't even design your own products.


7. Your focus is more on the cash then the product and process. Entrepeneurs almost never start out to get rich...that is a secondary dream...they are convinced that there is a better way of making or doing something and usually they have been forced to prove it by others rejection of their idea.

What can I tell someone new? The heart of the watermelon is the journey not the financial ending. You will have golden moments of innovation and success...try to identify and enjoy those moments because for every one of those there are pot holes. They talk about 'ying and yang' and 'sweet and sour' For every ying and sweet moment there are at least nine sour ones. Watch your inventory and receivables. Keep your office in the center of your structure not the corner or penthouse. Never give more than five strokes in a golf match. Especially to a guy from Kentucky.
Last modified on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 08:27