Scott Gerber is a syndicated columnist (WSJ, Entrepreneur, Inc.), a serial entrepreneur, author of Never Get a "Real" Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke, and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an advocacy group made up of many of the world’s top young entrepreneurs that works to help young people overcome the devastating effects of youth unemployment and underemployment by teaching them how to build businesses.
He is the founder and CEO of Gerber Enterprises, an entrepreneurial incubator and venture management company that invests capital, management expertise, and marketing services into innovative early and mid-stage companies.
Being an entrepreneur is much like being on a journey, living a process of discovery. Here, wherever here is, doesn't interest an entrepreneur, so much. Over there...wherever over there is....is much more interesting.
So I asked him:
What are three common lessons young entrepreneurs learn in their journey to success?
And, Scott shared his answer which reflected his own journey and process of discovery to-date.
You know there are many, many, lessons. If I had to sum up what lessons are most important I’d have to say:
Number One is Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, because you’ll be doomed to be run over by it. A lot of people think you have to disrupt an entire industry. They need to build some whole new mortgage sector. Use these different buzzwords to think they are going to be successful.
Most entrepreneurs don’t need to out-innovate everybody in the world. Thats a stupid premise. Not everybody is going to build a Facebook-style business. I would argue that most people ought to accept the fact that they are never going to build that level of company and truly build something that is successful and they can handle.
Number Two: Focus is Obviously Key.
So many people are like:
“Scott. You’re a serial entrepreneur. Why can’t I be?”
And I’m like:
“How many of your businesses are cash-flow positive and making money after more than 5 years?”
Most times you’re going to hear “
Oh well I left that business to do this. This is the real business. ..”
Well, that’s not really serial entrepreneurship. That business wasn’t working. You lost your focus and you moved on.
So, again, Focus is key. Because if one things is not doing it and you’re tying to do 10 things as poorly as a result. Instead of just focusing on that one key thing, you’re screwed. That’s just not the way to build a successful business.
The last thing I would say is Build Organically.
Young people today, I can’t speak for other generations, you think you write a business plan and you go out and get funding.
To that I say, that’s outrageous. 99.999999% of people will never get funding for their startup. Period. That’s it. I hate to be Debbie Downer. But that’s it; that’s a reality.
So, you have to build a business that is capable of generating revenue and that’s capable of being built over time, organically, through smart cash-flow, through strategic direction, through implementation and pristine execution, rather than saying “If I can get a million dollars I can make this work.”
Well great. You’re basically basing your entire future on an uncertain future, an uncertain reality. It doesn’t make any sense to me.
I think a lot of these young entrepreneurs did whatever it took, whether it was sitting on their friends couch, renting it. My friend Maya always tells a great story. She lived on her best friend’s couch for almost a year. And then her company, 2 years or 3 years later was bought out by living social.
So, this is the kind of thing that most people need to hear: the reality check:
All glitz and glam, that social network sexiness, is nothing but a facade. It does take a lot of work, a lot of hard efforts and not a lot of fundraising efforts.
Scott's focus is on young entrepreneurs. That's his people. The worldview, the behaviors, the expectations, are different than say Boomers. On the other hand, so many folks are still very young in the entrepreneurs phase. Regardless if you grew up with digital media or are quickly acquiring its knowledge, or if you grew up being shephered to soccer games with trophies for all or you saw the world as a competitive setting with you against the world...at this stage in this quirky time we're all forced to be entrepreneurs and we're all quite young at it.
Come on in. The water's fine. Our boat's float here and when they sink there are plenty of us around to help each other.
Want more from Scott Gerber?
- Read full transcripts of our conversation here.
- Follow him on Twitter
- Read his blog
- Buy and read his book: Never Get a "Real" Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke