The 3 Reasons Most People Fall Short at Entrepreneurship

Winning the Day Starts With Winning the Morning

Being a former professional athlete, one of the hardest things I have ever had to do didn’t involve blocking, tackling or going through the dreadful dog days of training camp. It was becoming a successful entrepreneur.

That might come as a shock, as you would expect having a 300-hundred-pound, angry, big and very agile offensive lineman trying to take your head off every single play would be difficult on you. Of course, football, and most sports for that matter, weed out the weak, undetermined and those who have no discipline at all. However, in my eyes, entrepreneurship is the true test of mental strength, guts and courage.

A great majority of entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners fail. We have been hearing that for a while now, and if it isn’t some news source or latest research telling us how hard it is to make it in entrepreneurship — family members and friends are sure to give you their input on how you are out of your mind for even contemplating bringing an idea of yours into the marketplace.

Why is it that most entrepreneurs fall short, or even worse, never even get off the ground? I had the wonderful privilege to chat with entrepreneur, New York Times-bestselling author and mega hustler Gary Vaynerchuk this week to find out what you can do to not fall into the very crowded space of wannapreneurs.

Here are three reasons as to why most entrepreneurs fall short.

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20 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

1. Spare time. This one can take some time.  Initially you’ll work longer hours for less pay.  But if you do it right, you could start to master your schedule and the freedom that being an entrepreneur provides is awesome. 

2. A story to tell. Whenever I tell someone I run my own business, they always want to know what I do, how I do it and how it’s going. I always am able to provide a tale or two, and the best part is that I get to determine the story’s chapters. (When working for a corporation, people most likely have less input.)

3. Tax benefits. For entrepreneurs (freelancers included), they have the opportunity to take advantage of some nice tax perks. Many can write off expenses like travel, food, phone bills, portions of car payments, and the list goes on. Also, certain startups qualify for government incentives. Make sure to ask your accountant about what tax benefits you may be eligible for.

4. Pride. When you build something successful, it’s a great feeling. You had a vision, were able to execute it and not can reap the benefits of saying “I did this.” On the other hand, it’s tough to be proud of the zillionth request for proposal request you fill out for your employer.

5. Your posterity. If you’re a doctor, plumber or bus driver it’s hard to imagine you passing your career on to your loved ones. But if you ownyour own business, that’s something you can pass on to the next generation. And be proud of it, because you created it.

6. Job security. Have you ever been laid off, downsized, or fired?  If you have, you get this. With entrepreneurship the security lies in the fact you are your own boss. You run the show and don’t have to worry about getting let go.

7. Networking. Entrepreneurs are communal creatures.  We love to meet each other, swap stories, and learn from each other’s experiences. Your circle of friends and acquaintances always grows when you become an entrepreneur, as many founders need others to lean on to survive and talk about the challenges only known to them.

8. Doing good. While this isn’t exclusive to entrepreneurs, it’s definitely a perk. You control where your company profits go and if you choose, you can give allocate your financial gains to others. You can sponsor a charity, a non-profit or just personally give back to the community.  This is quite honestly one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur.

9. Novelty. We, as humans, love new experiences but rarely can you experience a host of new things from inside your cubicle. This all changes when you are running the show. Starting your own business will ensure you’ll always be facing new challenge and experiencing something new.

10. Mentorship. Having had mentors and getting to be a mentor have been some of the best experiences of my life.  Learning from the masters and getting to help those less experienced than you gives you such a sense of satisfaction. From my experience (and other’s stories) the entrepreneurial community is very willing to give back and lend a helping hand.

11. Becoming an expert. This point goes along with mentorship.  Regardless of what you do as an entrepreneur, if you stick with it, you’ll probably become very good at it. And this gives you a sort of soapbox, so use it. You’ll have the chance to be interviewed for your expertise, write about it and get to spread your message.

12. Skills. People ask me how I learned about SEO, social media, pay-per-click, PR and all the other marketing techniques I utilize. I tell them that I was forced to learn them, otherwise I wouldn’t survive.  The same way I was forced to learn how to build a spreadsheet, how to balance a budget, how to negotiate leases and countless other skills I picked up because I was the only resource I had. While developing new skills can be tough and takes times, it can pay off in spades.  These skills will be invaluable throughout your life.

13. Determination. Everything I’ve done as an entrepreneur has affected me in my personal life.  I used to be poor at committing to changes. But having been an entrepreneur for over a decade has forced me to become dedicated and determined to causes. (Now I can stick to an exercise plan much easier.)  I’m also better at being a father and husband because of that determination I learned.

14. Recognition. There are literally thousands of local, regional and national awards that recognize entrepreneurs in every field and industry. This shouldn’t be your only reason to start your business, but it certainly is a great feeling when you receive this recognition.

15. Financial independence. Let’s be honest, this is probably the biggest reason people get into business for themselves.  And that’s a good thing!  You should want financial independence.  However you define financial independence – retirement stockpile, unlimited cash potential or having the money to buy what you want —  entrepreneurship can allow you to achieve it. Trust me, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does make finding happiness much easier.

16. Reinvention. I’ve started and sold several companies over my career.  And every time I sell a company, I’m presented with an opportunity to reinvent myself all over again. On the flip side, if I had received my law degree, I’d be a lawyer (not a lot of room to recreate myself). But as an entrepreneur, I get to be whatever I want to be.

17. Change the world. Everyone jokes that every entrepreneur says they’re going to change the world. It’s difficult to imagine how a cell phone accessory kiosk in the mall is going to change the world.  But there are those that do succeed.  Take a look at Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin, and the countless other entrepreneurs who really have changed the world in some small (or major) way.

18. Create jobs. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you’re responsible for the success of your employees.  Your ideas provided them the opportunity to earn a living, provide for their family and fulfill their own dreams.

19. Your brand. Being known for something is awfully enjoyable.  People may start referring to you as the marketing guy, or the retail maven or the software guru.  Whatever it is you’re recognized as, it’s fun to build that brand and earn that recognition.

20. Your reason. I’ve given you a list of why I think you should get into business.  But all that really matters is your reason to start your own business.  So, what is it?  Tweet out this story and add your reason.  Comment below and share with us why you did it.  I know it will be a good one. 

7 Signs You’re Not as Ethical as You Think

Do you believe you have strong ethics? You probably do. Just about everyone answers “yes” to that question. If you think about it, that’s a problem.

“The comment we hear most often is, ‘I’m ethical, it’s everyone else I’m worried about.’ That can’t be true of everyone,” says Mark Pastin, CEO of the Council of Ethical Organizations. He’s spent the past 30 years advising companies and governments about ethics.

Pastin says most people are too forgiving when considering their own ethics. “It’s one of the home fields for self-deception,” he says. That’s especially dangerous for someone running a small business. “Small companies are judged by their character more than big companies are. Most people understand that the way a small company behaves clearly reflects the leadership,” he says. In fact, his organization is often called in to consult with small companies–after an ethical misstep has damaged their reputation. “They’re looking to create a sustainable culture that will prevent unethical actions in future. Small companies are especially vulnerable when they make an ethical mistake.”

Before that happens, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about the seven questions Pastin poses. At worst, you’ll have wasted a little time figuring out that your ethics are as solid as you think they are. On the other hand, you may find some inspiration to make changes.

1. Do your actions match your thoughts?

This is how most people tend to let themselves off the hook, Pastin says: You judge yourself by your thoughts and intentions rather than by what you actually do. “The most important thing is to judge your own ethics the way you would judge someone else’s, which is by their behavior. Particularly in situations when it’s not easy to do the right thing.” People are victims of what the Ancient Greeks called akrasia, which Pastin defines as “knowing best but doing worst.”

His advice? “Look at your own behavior and think how you would evaluate someone else who did the same things.”

The thing that’s most important about your own ethics is that you judge it the way you would judge someone else’s which is by their behavior, particularly when it’s not easy to do the right thing.

2. How do you reward loyalty?

Loyalty, Pastin says, is an interesting ethical test case. Most people and companies claim to value loyalty, but as in question 1, their actions tell a different story. “People who say they’re loyal may be working for a company that developed them and brought them along, but if they get a slightly better offer, they’re gone,” he says. “And companies, if their first action when things go wrong is to fire people, they’d better keep their mouths shut about loyalty.”

How can you truly demonstrate that you value loyalty? By giving an effective employee who’s stayed with the company for a long time substantial pay increases, rather than an “attaboy,” Pastin says. “Think about your own employees from the perspective of what someone else would pay for them,” he adds. “If you have people who stay with you even though they could make more elsewhere, try to value them as much as they’d be valued if they weren’t loyal and had left for another job. It’s your job to make that adjustment, or they will.”

3. How do you handle whistle blowers?

“When someone speaks up to identify a problem, the immediate instinct is to hurt that person,” Pastin says. “So really protect employees who bring you significant issues. Make sure there aren’t reprisals. Learn to love your whistle blowers.”

The other challenge is to create an environment where employees feel safe raising negative issues in the first place, even though there will be times when you wish you hadn’t. “When you tell employees, ‘We want to hear your concerns,’ you have to be prepared for the fact that 99 out of 100 of them won’t be serious,” he says. “But you could get that one out of 100 that will change the future of your company. So you have to listen to all the comments and some of them aren’t going to be much fun.”

One other thing, he says: “If someone raises an issue that enables you to avoid a serious ethical mistake, you should value that. And we have a way of expressing value to people in this culture–we pay them!”

4. Do you over-promise?

“In smaller companies, the chief executives have to be very careful about what they say,” Pastin says. “If they say one thing and do something else, they can’t hide from it. If they over commit or exaggerate, they’ll be called out.”

That can have consequences that go beyond just you if you’re running a company or overseeing a team. “You have authority and power,” Pastin says. “When you say something, you’re committing the company, and not just yourself. You’ll often find experienced executives learn to parse what they say very carefully for this reason. If they over commit or exaggerate, they’ll be called out. It’s much better if the truth beats what you say than if what you say beats the truth.”

5. How much business do you get by word of mouth?

Pastin is often asked whether or not strong ethics confers a business advantage. Though there’s no simple answer, on average he says it does because strong ethics leads to a good reputation. Having your business grow by word of mouth or referrals is one of the best indications that your reputation is solid.

Unfortunately, expectations for ethics are so low these days that customers are fairly easy to impress, he adds. “They expect to be treated well while their wallets are open, but once they’re closed, they don’t expect to have a relationship with you.” If you treat people who have a complaint or a product to return with the same level of service you would if you were selling to them, you’ll win their loyalty quickly, he says.

6. How do you treat your vendors?

Most companies focus on customers, Pastin says. After all, they’re the ones paying the bills. But how do you treat people and companies when you’re the customer? Do you pay bills on time? If you can’t, do you get in touch to explain, and let them know when to expect a payment? “What ethical face are you presenting to the world? Your vendors probably know best,” Pastin says. “You usually show who you truly are to the people you’re paying.”

Pastin says his company makes an effort to pay vendors ahead of schedule and that’s paid off when he’s needed thousands of copies of a code of conduct for a client with a 24-hour turnaround. “We needed to be able to call up the printer without a written order or comparative bids and just get it done,” he says. “If they’d wanted a signed contract we never would have been able to do it in time.”

7. How do you deliver bad news?

If you need to discipline an employee or fire someone for cause, do you do it yourself? Do you deliver the news yourself? Face to face or by email? Or do you hand it off to an HR person or another manager? “When there’s bad news, you need to point out something negative, or take a negative action, your willingness to own the consequences is a good measure of your ethics,” Pastin says.