Merriam-Webster describes an entrepreneur as a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money. While this couldn’t be truer, there is a lot more to it than assuming the risks of owning a business.
Before I was surrounded by startups and entrepreneurs, had I been asked what I thought an entrepreneur was, the first thing that I would have thought is someone who has the luxury of going back to bed simply because they don’t feel like “adulting” that day. As I have come to know many entrepreneurs, the thought of them taking a day off is laughable. In fact, not even major surgery holds them back. While the rest of us are taking vacations and holidays with our families the entrepreneur is faking it. They may be by the tree but they are no doubt pounding at the laptop or churning something over in their mind. They seem to have everything invested time, money, passion, almost bordering obsession. And while they do leave the office at times–from a mental standpoint they are always working. Seeing all of this, I wanted to know what all of this looks like from an entrepreneur’s view. I sat down with two of my favorites Robb Woolsey of Rural First, and Josh Holstein of CellARide.
A lot of us think people work for themselves because they don’t want to work for “the man”. But Josh said exactly the opposite of this. For him it wasn’t about working for himself or being the face of something, It was about creating something innovative that has mass appeal. To me, this perfectly describes the difference between a small business owner and entrepreneur. As Robb states it perfectly; “a start-up is starting with the idea of conquering the world, vs a small business that someone builds to succeed in his/hers town/city/region. When asked if they considered themselves born entrepreneurs both Robb and Josh hesitated before replying “yes”. To me it was a no-brainer, of course, they were! In knowing that each of them has already owned several businesses, it becomes obvious. In fact, the average entrepreneur will have an average of 2.3 businesses.
As you can imagine all of this takes an incredible amount of work. Robb and Josh are in agreeance that the number one skill to be an entrepreneur is perseverance. It is not for the weak-willed or as Josh says someone that takes things personally. It’s been said that
Entrepreneurs work 62% more than the average person, just ask our CEO Robb Woolsey. When I asked Josh how being an entrepreneur has changed his home life, he replies that it’s a constant struggle, 24/7. At one point he only saw his family for an average of 20hrs a month. Think about how much time you spend with your family in a week, it’s probably more than 20 hours. An entrepreneur’s family goes thru everything they do. Robb was crushed when he had to move his family out of their 3500 sq.ft. home into his buddies basement. But he didn’t let it stop him. He kept pushing for greatness.
What I appreciated most about my talks with Robb and Josh is how they referred to their employees. They both feel that good employees have been hugely important to their success. Believing in the concept of a team and understanding that they can’t do it on their own.
Josh talks some about this when I asked him what he believes the 5 key elements of starting a business are. For him, it was easy to answer because he has been following what he calls the 5 step path to a tech startup. First the idea is born, then turned into a product, followed by the creation of a business around it, then creating the company by taking the business and hiring what he calls the team. Lastly is the exit, which can be to sale, go public, or move forward.
The highs, lows, unknowns, and sacrifices are worth it to the entrepreneur that was born to succeed. Both Robb and Josh have a great passion driving them. While Robb’s favorite part about being an entrepreneur is using the creative process to problem solve, Josh loves when others see value in what he has created. Both men will continue to be entrepreneurs once they exit their current companies. Keep watching, bigger things are coming from these two. You can learn more about Josh and his company, Cellaride, at their website.