I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Brian Moran founder of Small Business Edge where he is leveraging his 20+ years of experience in publishing magazines for business owners to assist entrepreneurs with everything from social media to accessing growth capital to expanding into the global marketplace.
In August, 2012, Brian was given the prestigious Lou Campanelli award at SCORE’s national conference in recognition for his years of service in the small business market. In October, 2012 Brian was named one of the top 100 SMB Influencers in the country by Small Business Trends & Small Biz Technology.
Before that he was Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal.
Q: What are the three most important traits of a successful entrepreneur?
A: Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. They all find success through different channels and by different means. What works for one entrepreneur may be kryptonite to another entrepreneur. That said, I did some research to see if there were some common threads in the more successful entrepreneurs. Here are three traits I found:
1) X-Ray Vision: The most successful entrepreneurs see what normal business owners cannot see. Clayton Christensen often talks about disruptive innovation. Well, it’s not disruptive nor is it innovative before an entrepreneur takes a chance on executing his or her idea. Michael Dell’s decision to sell his computers directly to customers was completely disruptive. He saw what few others were able to see—that all of the other computer companies were married to big box retail or their internal sales force. It would take years before they could free themselves from their commitments to sell directly to the end user. Dell saw what others did not see.
2) High Tolerance for Risk & Pain: Successful entrepreneurs understand that what they are doing is akin to “walking through the fire.” Fire is HOT! It will hurt. Theseentrepreneurs commit their time, money, resources—and their tolerance for pain-to building extraordinary businesses. I remember listening to RedBox Co-Founder
Michael DeLazzer tell the story about his presentation to McDonald's which was a last ditch effort to save his company. I can feel his pain as he tells the story of pleading for 24 more hours in order to prove that his product worked.
3) Great Leaders: Most of the really successful entrepreneurs inspire the people who work for them to share in their success by giving more than they normally would to a job. They lead by example and are not afraid to get their hands dirty if it means moving the company towards its goal. Norm Brodsky, serial entrepreneur, author and columnist at Inc. magazine, often writes about the culture of his company. He gave his employees the freedom to express themselves and their ideas and they thanked him by helping him create a company (CitiStorage) that he would later sellfor over $100 million.
Q: What are the three most dominant traits of failed entrepreneurs?
A: The road to success for entrepreneurs is littered with the broken dreams of failed business people who weren’t able to realize their visions for various reasons. Three of the most common reasons are:
1)They didn’t pay attention to the financials. It’s the life blood of any business. You can’t let the chasm between A/P and A/R get too wide, you have to be mindful of your banking relationships and you have to watch expenses. Basically, you can’t sleep much as an aspiring entrepreneur. Traps are all around you. Step in one of them and it can mean the end of your business. Need an example? If your largest customer represents at least 30% of your revenue and typically pays you net 90 days, what would happen if that company filed for bankruptcy and took all your receivables with them? That scenario might cause a few sleepless nights.
2) They didn’t have a secure plan or a contingency plan. If the Great Recession taught us anything it’s that even the best laid plans get thrown out the window when our economy gets blasted by a crippling recession. The companies that survived did so because they had a disaster plan in place. The companies that failed weren’t as fortunate. They had no plan and no contingency plan in place. Their demise was set the day the recession hit.
3) They weren’t leaders; just bad bosses. The entrepreneurs that fail did so, in part, because they didn’t extract greatness from their employees. Rather they made life miserable. They treated their employees in a dictatorial manner or worse, they were indifferent to the needs of their workers. No one wants to follow a bad boss and no one jumps out of bed on a cold, wintery morning because they get to work for a bad boss.
What do you think of Brian’s answer? What are your virtues and vanities of entrepreneurs? Which one’s the toughest?
I like his answers. I like his writing, too. It’s clear and concise.
I’m glad I discovered Brian and can point you towards him. Check out Brian's Blog. Besides sharing his business savvy, he shares quotes and perspective from Plato, Socrates, the poet Robert Frost and the Bible in his post A Better Way to Live. Someone who can do that is someone we should read.