It took me a long time to be able to say that with a straight face and level of conviction that it really meant something. I started my own business – a management consulting firm called Plus Delta Consulting – in 2002 after years of just not feeling like I fit in with any other job I ever had before. In fact, other than being a summer camp counselor or working as a lifeguard at Northwestern University’s boathouse on Lake Michigan, I never kept a job for more than about 2 years until now. Whether it was working in a small start-up or with two of the world’s largest management consulting firms, I knew that it would take something different to feed my soul. I just didn’t know what that was or how I’d construct it. Even when I was honored with the apparent success of being the Founder and CEO of one of the fastest growing private companies in America (according to Inc. magazine) a few years ago, I still didn’t get what it truly meant to be an entrepreneur.
At that very Inc. conference in 2009, Chris Gardner, author of the book and subject of the 2006 movie portrayed by Will Smith “Pursuit of Happyness“, shared his definition of entrepreneurship with a group of us attending a private reception hosted by the Kauffman Foundation, the ones who really know what entrepreneurship in America is all about!
According to Gardner, the essence of entrepreneurship is taking money out of your own pocket to cover payroll. Well, I’ve certainly had my fair share of that over the years, so I guess it’s time to admit it… My name is Jeremy Lurey, and I’m an entrepreneur!
The last few years have not been so friendly for most entrepreneurs and small business owners in America. I can’t speak intelligently about other areas around the world, but I suspect it hasn’t been much better overseas. Entrepreneurs require capital – whether it’s their own private funding, venture capital dollars, or bank-funded loans – to launch their
new ventures and keep them alive. And during the recession, that capital has become harder to come by.
So what does a true entrepreneur do in uncertain and unstable times? Hang it up and find a new job? Not likely! Dig in and get back to the basics? That sounds about right! That’s what gets any successful entrepreneur past those first few days (years) in the first place and is most likely the only magic formula that will get them to the next level.
If you’re feeling a bit “stuck” in your entrepreneurial pursuits, I’d recommend a few paths to follow that have been extremely helpful for me over the years:
- Read Harriet Rubin’s book Soloing: Realizing Your Life’s Ambition and Geoff Bellmans’s book Your Signature Path: Gaining New Perspectives on Life and Work before you even get started and make sure this really is what you want to do
- Subscribe to Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com’s e-newsletters and begin reading their insightful articles – no less than once a week!
- Join a professional network of like-minded entrepreneurial peers – I found Vistage International almost 3 years ago and highly recommend that or similar organizations like Entrepreneurs’ Organization
The battle cry “I am Entrepreneur, hear me roar!” may make you feel good about yourself. It’s not going to get you very far in the real world though, so check out the above resources to take your entrepreneurial pursuits to the next level.