When Steve Jobs took the stage at Stanford University to deliver their 2005 Commencement address, he shared three stories.
The first story was about connecting the dots. Jobs recounted how he dropped out of college, but stuck around on campus to attend classes he thought were interesting. He learned about and became fascinated with calligraphy. 10 years later, the Mac would be the first computer to feature beautiful typography. Jobs maintained that dots can’t be connected looking forward, only backward. You have to trust that everything connects.
In his second story, he reminisced on being fired from Apple, the company he created. He loved what he did so much that he started more companies including Pixar and NeXT. Apple bought NeXT and he returned to Apple again. The moral for Jobs was to find what you love and do it without ever settling.
Finally, Jobs spoke in his last story about death and being diagnosed with (curable) pancreatic cancer in 2004 where he gently pleaded with graduates to use their time wisely. Follow your heart, your intuition, and always, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
It has been 11 years since that speech and five years since Jobs passed away. The world, particularly the startup industry, is a different place. The 2015 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity reported that startup activity, which had been stuck in a rut since 2010, began rising in 2015 to reverse the downward trend. More than ever before, entrepreneurs are starting businesses where money takes a backseat to dreams. Here’s how passions are paying off for entrepreneurs.
“Opportunity Entrepreneurship” is (finally!) surpassing “Necessity Entrepreneurship.” For many entrepreneurs, necessity entrepreneurship was the norm for a long time. As the Kauffman Index report states, business creation made out of necessity was related to unemployment. The longer an entrepreneur was unemployed, the more they pushed themselves to start a business. However, because the business was formed to make a quick buck, it ultimately had a lower growth potential.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs that had not been unemployed before and were fresh from school are able to drive opportunity entrepreneurship forward. These entrepreneurs start businesses based off of market opportunities for the product or service they created that they are passionate about. Doing this not only creates a strong business foundation, but it also aids to the overall economic climate in building and sustaining businesses.
You, and your business, have the opportunity to leave your mark. At the start of 2016, small business owners on SCORE shared their predictions for what entrepreneurs could expect throughout the year. Not only were several of these predictions spot-on, but they loosely foreshadowed what small businesses could anticipate in 2017 too. When starting a company, entrepreneurs have to consider their brand’s past, present, and future and see what kind of legacy you’d like to leave behind. Some key areas to keep in mind are bulleted below:
Establishing brand transparency and authenticity with everyone, from employees to Facebook fans.
· Personalizing each customer’s experience, delighting them with serendipitous discovery, and following up to continue engaging together.
· Embracing diversity, not only in hires, but also in remote, freelance, and telecommute work styles.
· Making your company one that remains true to its values and principles while still being in-demand as a place everyone wants to work for.
Success is all in your mindset.
The entrepreneurial journey is a literal rollercoaster of highs and lows and that applies to everyone, whether you’re brand-new or a veteran at building brands. Some days will be productive, filled with good news, hard work that gets rewarded, and significant strides made forward. Others, you’ll feel overwhelmed and stressed out, unsure if there’s a single creative bone left in your body. Even if you love what you do, when times are tough you may find yourself second-guessing your decision to become an entrepreneur. But the key to success isn’t in perfection. It’s all in your mindset.
As an entrepreneur, commit to going to work each day with a positive, can-do attitude. The attitude you project reflects on you and your personality, your team, and your brand. There is an old adage that says “your tribe is your vibe” which rings true in all matters professional and personal. If your attitude is optimistic and encouraging, it will draw others towards you instead of pushing them away. If you work hard, believe in yourself and others, and love the work you do, your startup is certain to be successful.
Operated by Cal Lutheran University in Westlake Village, CA, Hub101 offers coworking, incubation and community for entrepreneurs and small business owners to start, grow, and scale their startups with the help of mentors, coaches and service providers.