Thursday, December 27, 2012

Entrepreneurs, We Need Your Stories

photo credit: pennstatelive via photopin cc

Smart people learn from failure, while brilliant people go a step further by extracting the lessons and teaching others. This is what we need more of from entrepreneurs of all types. The world is full of aspiring entrepreneurs looking to beat a new path, yet stumble and trip themselves up by making common mistakes of beginning entrepreneurs. In my heart of hearts, I believe these pitfalls are avoidable if only someone more experienced would talk to them and provide assistance along the way. I love books, but for the aspiring entrepreneur, books are not enough. What they need is to hear your story direct from you - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The need to project an air of success makes many entrepreneurs reluctant to share their more painful experiences. Aspiring entrepreneurs will face some of the same challenges, and you have an opportunity to prevent disaster by erecting caution signs along their path that read, "Hey, go this way instead!"

We learn more from failure than from success, yet we hide the failures out of embarrassment and shame. Or we tell the story in such a way that paints us as the superhero that donned his cape for the sake of mankind.

Look, we all make mistakes and entrepreneurs perhaps make more than the average person. It is the nature of what we do. But the battle scars are markers in the road for those who come behind us. So, get out there and give back to the community by telling your story - the whole story.

I spent the last several weeks teaching a class on entrepreneurship at Schenectady County Community College, and I found the experience exhilarating. More than telling stories, we extracted the lessons and erected road signs for this group of aspiring entrepreneurs.

Check out some of the feedback from the professor and his students.

Sometimes our job is to beat a path for others to follow, making their journey easier than our own. Like an athlete has a responsibility to be a good role model for kids, I believe the seasoned entrepreneur has a responsibility to be a teacher and mentor for the aspiring entrepreneur.

So, take time out of your busy schedule to volunteer at an incubator, a non-profit like S.C.O.R.E or visit with college students. Somewhere down the road, perhaps many years after your passing, some successful entrepreneur will recall and credit your words with helping them achieve their greatest dreams.

Remember, entrepreneurship is not about making a million. It's about making a difference.

Godspeed. See you in The Players Lounge.

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