The entrepreneurial spirit and mindfulness run in my family.
My grandfather operated a fruit, vegetable, and spice business in the old French Market District of New Orleans. My uncle helped him grow that fruit stand into a multi-million dollar retail business that sits in the same location, now run by my cousins with my own advisory input, three generations later.
In the late-70s, my mother hung out her own shingle as a small business owner. She built it into a chain of retail stores – first selling jewelry and gifts, then professional women’s and menswear – that thrived in New Orleans until Katrina wiped everything out in 2005. She then retired to Houston to be closer to her grandchildren.
I was blessed to grow up in a vibrant, entrepreneurial environment.
My family’s businesses were anchors in my young life. They were my school-away-from-school. Unconventional classrooms that supplemented my early formal education where I learned first by observing, then doing. I couldn’t help but pay attention to all the things that allowed my family’s businesses to flourish: strong work ethic, planning, anticipation, perseverance, resilience, creativity, and mindfulness. Because my mom got me involved working in her store early, these essentials for running a successful business would soon come as natural to me as reading was for other people.
That experience and entrepreneurial spirit of “where there’s a will there’s a way” were priceless gifts my family gave to me. As a young adult, my mother later invested in me and helped support four of my early business ventures, which were mostly unsuccessful.
But those were also valuable lessons learned. They were as valuable as the management training I received during my years working with UPS in the early 1990s, my time consulting with a number of startups, and my critical corporate job experience thereafter.
Over the past 14 years, I’ve observed and learned from inside Insperity, a Fortune 1000 company, as it grew from $800M to almost $3B in revenue. That experience has provided me with a unique perspective. Not only did I get to be an integral part of an enterprise company growing at scale, but I also had a unique seat at the table as we acquired several smaller $4M to $12M businesses that we attempted to integrate into our massive infrastructure. I then got to experience why smaller companies struggle to operate at scale and I was blessed with the opportunity to fix the problem.
My upbringing as well as my 30-plus years of entrepreneurial and corporate experience have shaped who I am and compelled me to become an advisor to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. Being able to share my hard-earned insights and having the pleasure to be involved at different phases of their business lifecycles – from idea/inception to highly thriving businesses – is what drives me today.
I’ve become passionate about finding the reasons why most startups fail and what businesses can do to avoid the many pitfalls that can lead to their demise.
Why do startups fail? Is it because there’s no market for their idea? Is it because of the execution? Is it because of timing? I started almost a year ago on this journey to explore, better understand, and answer those questions and help solve problems for exuberant entrepreneurs.
I’ve been mesmerized by the appetite for risk of today’s entrepreneurs, the lack of preparation and understanding of how to manage that risk, and simply the number of people that believe, “If I build it, they will come.”
And that’s one of the reasons why I’ve started writing this blog. With StartupHeat, I want to help exuberant, aspiring, and/or existing entrepreneurs, and startup business leaders like you to become more mindful and define your “success equation.” Critical to this is understanding that the first step in business isn’t to just create something to sell, but rather to think more thoroughly about how to solve a pain point for your buyer/customer.
You need to make their lives easier.
The StartupHeat blog will provide entrepreneurs and early-stage companies with mindfulness tools and techniques in order to find the signal within the noise. I aim to help:
- Aspiring entrepreneurs – Balance the conflicting mental states of typical irrational exuberance (initial overwhelming excitement and optimism) vs. rational practical focus (what’s necessary for you to be successful, long-term). You’ll learn how to approach your venture in a more mindful way.
- Existing entrepreneurs – Learn how to bring products to market in a digital/virtual age – tools and techniques you can use for new product launches; and
- Advisors/Investors – Gain the information you’ll need to assess early-stage companies and consider how you might use your disposable income to gain access to and fund them.
To be clear: I’m a huge supporter of exuberance and entrepreneurial optimism (“failing fast,” and learning on the fly) and I would argue that kind of energy is vital to startup success. But that excitement must be harnessed and tempered with the practical realities of the marketplace.
I’ve learned a lot from experience and know what success and failure look like, so I’m able to offer you that perspective. In some ways, StartupHeat will serve as my own therapy to help organize my thoughts and simply figure out how to better advise you, whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, existing entrepreneur, or established business/investor.
In future quarterly installments, I will walk you through various principles, techniques, and tips to help you succeed. Next time, I’ll go more in-depth discussing the important concept of mindfulness and explain how it fits into every entrepreneur’s success equation.
Thanks for reading, subscribing to StartupHeat, and for allowing me to join you on your own entrepreneurial mission. Until next time, stay curious, focus on the signal, and make mindful decisions on your journey to success!