The Transformational Entrepreneur
Posted on March 09, 2011 by Terry Murray, One of Thousands of Business Coaches on Noomii.
Here is an excerpt from my new book, "The Transformational Entrepreneur - Engaging The Mind, Heart, & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success".
If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to the Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, there are an estimated 12.6 million “nascent entrepreneurs” in the United States.1 In their 2008 report, “The Small Business Economy, A Report To The President”, the Small Business Administration defines a nascent entrepreneur as someone that is seriously contemplating starting a business. This incubation period for nascent entrepreneurs will typically last five years, at which time a third will have launched a business, a third will have disengaged from the pursuit, and a third will continue to think about it. This isn’t a period of idle daydreaming. The report goes on to identify the average nascent entrepreneur will invest 1,471 hours (the equivalent of nine months of 40 hour work weeks) and $10,734 of their own money during this pre-launch period. Cumulatively, a total of $60 billion in informal, financial contributions are expended every year by individuals that, for the most part, will not personally benefit from these investments. That’s truly putting your money where your mouth is!
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy and continue to kindle the flames of the American Dream. Small businesses employ half of all private sector employees, produce half of the country’s non-farm Gross Domestic Product, and create roughly 75% of new private sector jobs.2 Perhaps more importantly, small firms produce 50% of new innovations3 and are a major source of significant market changes.4 Entrepreneurs built the United States, and it is the entrepreneurial spirit that is pulling our nation out of the Great Recession.
Entrepreneurs move us all forward, yet they face tremendous headwinds in the pursuit of their dreams. Government regulations disproportionately burden small businesses as compared to large corporations and their wealth of resources. Large corporate concerns spend vast amounts of money lobbying our state and federal governments, entrenching their interests, often at the expense of individuals and small businesses. Often, the mere size of corporations can dominate entire market segments, creating barriers to entry for innovative, nimble competitors capable of shifting entire value propositions. Yet the entrepreneurial spirit continues to thrive.
I should probably tell you a little about myself. I shipped off to the Navy when I was seventeen years old and served aboard an aircraft carrier as a Naval Intelligence Specialist. This was where my foundation was forged. Naval Intelligence taught me a set of skills that still serve me today. They introduced me to strategic planning, albeit military strategic planning, but strategic planning nonetheless. They taught me how to comb through myriad amounts of data, discern what was of strategic importance, convert data into targeting information, create step-by-step strike plans, and instilled my ability to communicate these plans on an executive level. The Navy also imparted a life-and-death sense of responsibility for my work as the lives of highly trained pilots and my shipmates depended on my accuracy and attention to detail. Before I was nineteen years old, like so many of our service personnel today, I was accountable for other people’s lives. This sense of responsibility and accountability towards the people that depend on my work has never left me. It has proven to be a key accelerant and differentiator in my career.
I went on to study business administration in college and found myself, upon graduation, working as a sales representative in the rapidly emerging biotechnology industry in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After six years in field sales, carrying a bag as we used to say, I began my managerial career, quickly matriculating up the chain of command in a variety of large corporations. By the time I was 36 years old I was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for a billion dollar medical device company. I had complete profit and loss responsibility (true accountability) and hundreds of people (very real responsibility) working for me.
Eventually tiring of the politics of corporate life, I headed into the start-up world in my late thirties. After helping two start-up companies get off the ground I went to work as a consultant and Executive Strategist in the emerging business and start-up community. Over the last decade, I’ve had the privilege to conduct strategic assessments for dozens of companies, create strategic launch plans, help start-ups obtain investment capital, and guide them to secure initial sales traction in their markets. I found myself being paid to continue learning about the dynamics of bringing new businesses to market while leveraging the real-world education I had received in the resource-rich world of Corporate America.
This period of time coincided with what could best be described as my own spiritual awakening. Through study and reflection, I began to identify patterns in business that previously appeared unexplainable to me. A new clarity began to emerge, and with it a vision of how human beings think, feel, and function within businesses. With this came a sense of purpose and a desire to be of greater service to the community. My community, for the past decade, has been one populated by entrepreneurs.
Three years ago, I began searching for books that reflected the importance of engaging the mind, heart, and spirit of human beings in business. Books that explored leadership from an enlightened perspective. The books I found on the subject tended towards relatively vague, etherial platitudes, or collections of success anecdotes about spiritually progressive business people, but little in the way of the actual processes and action items that could accelerate entrepreneurial success. The mission-critical factors of the professional community in which I live, work, and attempt to serve. Thus, the seeds of this book were sown. This book is an attempt to share the real-world processes of grounded, start-up business practice that actually work examined from the perspective of a growing spiritual awareness. Fore it is through spiritual awareness that businesses can truly engage the entire human continuum of its workforce; the creativity, the passion, and the dedication start-ups desperately need to secure traction against the headwinds they all face.
I’ve been blessed to work both sides of the street, developing the skills and perspective that could have only emerged from walking my rather unusual path. One key lesson I’ve learned along the way is it is critically important to identify what not to do and where not to go in business as quickly as possible. In sales, we call it “getting to no” quickly. Great sales people don’t mind being told no; they do mind being told maybe and wasting their valuable time in pursuit of opportunities that will never bear fruit. This concept is even more important for entrepreneurs.
Why do I bring this up? Digging deeper into the Small Business Administration’s report reveals several important issues within the nascent entrepreneur community. First, six in ten nascent entrepreneurs report that this is their first start-up. Another critical lesson I’ve come to appreciate is we don’t know what we don’t know. If this is your first rodeo, it is difficult to know where to even begin. In addition, when we consider that more than half of all entrepreneurs have less than six years of managerial experience, very few have enjoyed the privilege of being intimately involved in the strategic planning process.
This is perhaps why only 48% of nascent entrepreneurs have initiated a business plan (the government report doesn’t reveal how many have actually completed the planning process). Yet, at the same time, 81% of them are investing their own money and a significant amount of their time and energy. To quote the SBA report, “It is reasonable to expect the startup process to require the equivalent of one year of full-time work and tens of thousands of dollars.” By following the step-by-step planning process I’ve laid out in this book, nascent entrepreneurs can quickly and affordably discern the viability of their idea and hopefully go on to secure market traction before breaking their own bank.
I’d like to quote a few more insightful findings from the SBA report:
“The major factors affecting success in completing the startup process with a new business are related to what is actually done to implement a new firm and the work experience of the individual.”
“What entrepreneurs do is much more important than who they are.”
“So what is the bottom line for aspiring entrepreneurs? Know what you are doing and do it.”
“The most effective way to increase the probability of success is to provide training and managerial assistance to active nascent entrepreneurs. Substantive training and education creates a fuller understanding of future customers, markets, and industry practices – information that can lead to the identification of opportunities. Having the skills and information needed to implement a new firm will facilitate developing new ventures that reflect emerging business opportunities.”
That is what this book is about. Providing a proven methodology that I’ve used for more than two decades of business success. This book isn’t about meditating your way to success or how the power of positive thinking will automatically draw success into your fold. Yes, those things may be important, but it is the actions you take combined with your positive intention and mindfulness that will be the ultimate determining factor in your success.
And with that, I sincerely wish all of you the best of luck in the pursuit of your dreams!
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© 2011, Terry Murray. All Rights Reserved.