March 21, 2016
At CAYA we're fascinated by what makes an entrepreneur, not simply because we're launching a business ourselves, but because our customers will be those entrepreneurs and innovators. We want to know what drives them, what worries them, what keeps them up at night, and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
One of CAYA's main aims is engaging directly with our workspace members daily, finding out what they need and if we can help. Having started businesses and worked with other start-ups in the past, we have access to resources, information, tools and advice that can help those we want to see succeed. We can make the connections and introductions CAYA members need so badly to drive their businesses forward. Understanding our customers is top of our list. Next to feeding them of course :)
Entrepreneurs choose to forego the security and familiarity of a ‘regular job’ to live an uncertain and insecure lifestyle. It takes a lot of bravery to make that tradeoff, but for icons like Walt Disney, the potential reward is worth it.
Entrepreneurs are rarely out to seek fame for themselves. Instead, they’re more concerned with the people they want to help or the problem they want to solve. This infuses their task with a layer of meaning that can be the difference between success and failure when things get tough. In his book, APE - Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, former Apple chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki writes, “In your darkest, most frustrated hours, remember the value you are trying to add to peoples’ lives, the satisfaction you’ll feel, or the cause that you’ll further.”
Since they’re in the business of creating new products and inventing new ways of doing things, much of what entrepreneurs do can’t be taught in a classroom. They know that the most important lessons are learned through living, so throughout their lives, they remain open, flexible, and curious in order to absorb as much as possible.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, started off with a small student magazine, before eventually growing a string of record stores, a music label, an airline, and now even a commercial spaceflight company. Rather than becoming an expert in one area, he continued to learn and adapt throughout his life.
Rarely does an inventor or entrepreneur succeed on the first try. To create something lasting and worthwhile, it usually takes years of hard work, focus, and dedication; an idea is just a starting point. Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, a spoken word poet and the founder of a production company, believes this level of persistence is a critical element of entrepreneurship. “That’s what it means to be an entrepreneur: to really focus on that one thing that does not exist yet and keep working towards it until it becomes real,” she says.
For most of us, the fear of failure is entirely paralyzing, but for entrepreneurs, failure is something to embrace. It’s an indication of pushing the limits, and inevitable when one is constantly trying new things.
Entrepreneurs want to do more than indulge their own interests — they want to solve a problem or create a product that satisfies a need.
Some started businesses because of frustration with an inefficient or defective system. Others were moved by a personal encounter with poverty or misfortune. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, started his business after traveling to Argentina and seeing kids who didn’t have shoes: “An absence that didn’t just complicate every aspect of their lives — including essentials like attending school and getting water from the local well — but also exposed them to a wide range of diseases,” he writes inStart Something That Matters.
While one might think that entrepreneurs are focused mainly on never-seen-before ideas, they often revamp an existing model or upgrade an outdated product. Sometimes, these reinvented ideas change the way we exercise, read, or eat.
And once in a while, they revolutionize ice cream.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, started out in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, before growing a globally recognized brand that features unusual flavors like ‘Cherry Garcia’ and ‘Hazed & Confused.’ They’re also pioneers in the socially responsible business movement, speaking often about how business can give back to the community and earning Ben & Jerry’s a B-Corporation certification.
Entrepreneurs execute when for many others, an idea simply fades into the past. They are masters of turning the abstract into the concrete. This seemingly simple action is one of the great challenges of life and in the end, it’s what defines an entrepreneur.