There is a lot to be said for those rare few that possess the ability to create huge companies with hundreds or thousands of employees that are all just ecstatic to be at work. It is exceptionally difficult and equally as impressive, which is why they end up taking up space on the front page of a major magazine or journal.
Although it appears flashy and glamorous, particularly with the amount of celebrity that todays super entrepreneurs wield, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility that is lost, almost by default, once you pass a certain size. Now, not only am I not one of those few, but I really don’t want to be.
With the first few months of the year already behind us, startups have ditched their excess holiday weight and are running full speed into 2015. This means a fresh cocktail of pitch competitions, MVPs and all-nighters. For many, this also is the time of year to consider joining an accelerator.
Popularised in the proverbial Silicon Valley tech melting pot, accelerators have become a mainstay in startup ecosystems all over the world. As caretakers of talented mentors, investors with full wallets and vital press contacts, accelerators have proliferated to virtually every corner of the globe. Early-stage startups looking for an accelerator are often spoiled for choice.
How can you tell an accelerator that will give you the kick start you need from one that will silently slink away with a slice of equity in the dead of night?
Daniel Lubetzky, the founder and CEO of KIND Snacks, remembers exactly how he felt earlier this year when he was tapped by the White House to be a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE).
“I’m not particularly partisan,” Lubetzky tells Fast Company. “I agree with President Obama on many fronts, though I also disagree with him on some issues. But when you’re invited to the Oval Office, you become like Silly Putty. You’re just overwhelmed by the office of the president, and you want to do your part to help your country.”
President Obama has been a keen proponent of entrepreneurship since he came into office. He started with his own administration: Last month, Fast Company published a cover story about Obama’s efforts to recruit top tech talent from companies like Google and Facebook to reboot the government, applying the principles of a lean startup to make it more efficient and technologically advanced.
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Confidence takes many forms, from the arrogance of Floyd Mayweather to the quiet self-assurance of Jane Goodall. True confidence—as opposed to the false confidence people project to mask their insecurities—has a look all its own.
When it comes to confidence, one thing is certain: truly confident people always have the upper hand over the doubtful and the skittish because they inspire others and they make things happen.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
Ford’s notion that your mentality has a powerful effect on your ability to succeed is manifest in the results of a recent study at the University of Melbourne that showed that confident people went on to earn higher wages and get promoted more quickly than anyone else.
Early in his career, Sir Nicholas Winton was a stockbroker; in later years, he worked for international relief organizations and other charities. But for 50 years, nobody knew his greatest achievement and contribution to humanity.
We often celebrate entrepreneurs for being dynamic business leaders. That’s a good thing, but entrepreneurship itself doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with making money. A professor at Harvard Business School put it best: it’s about the “pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
That’s why I’ve insisted that the best book about entrepreneurship has absolutely nothing to do with making money, and it’s why we can look at people who start nonprofits, or who assemble teams to accomplish amazing goals that have nothing to do with business–and call them great entrepreneurs.
Nicholas Winton was a truly great entrepreneur.
How many times have you listened to a friend or loved one wax poetic about the brilliant idea that came to them in the shower? Really. Think about it.
How many pitches have you heard in your life for a new product, business venture, service, or invention? Can you come up with a number?
Or, how many times have you been the one to bend the ear of a friend or your spouse about the brilliant innovation that “just came to you,” as if in a dream?
And now, how many of those ideas — from others and your own — have actually moved past the idea stage and turned into something real?
You have to be confident to be an entrepreneur. Not 100 percent of the time, but it takes confidence to leave the security of a steady paycheck every week for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship. We know the stats about business-failure, which is why that confidence and fearless attitude are so important.
Too often, however, entrepreneurs use that confidence to cover up what they are struggling with inside. They don’t want to admit or show any weakness. They think they can “work it out” or that those struggles will magically go away on their own. They don’t want the outside world to see in cracks in the armor.