The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Attributes of My Most Successful Clients
I recently had the great pleasure of working with an outstanding group of creative professionals in Los Angeles. This dynamic group consisted of actors, writers, producers, executive stunt directors, musicians, coaches, and teachers. After six days of non-stop work I boarded a plane back to Raleigh, NC, feeling exhausted and deeply satisfied. Flying from LA to Raleigh I had roughly five hours to rest, decompress, and reflect. As I thought back over the previous six days, I realized that I consistently derive the greatest enjoyment when I work with people and organizations that possess the rare gift of an entrepreneurial spirit. The creative community in LA has this in abundance and I can only imagine that is why I never once felt like I was "working." In fact, despite the minimal sleep and non-stop agenda, I found that I was personally re-energized by the enthusiasm and excitement I encountered on a daily basis. As I thought about my most successful clients and the work we did that garnered the greatest results, I realized that every one, without fail, had this characteristic in common: they were truly entrepreneurial. Regardless of their organization, industry, sector, or size, these clients, whether as individuals or as groups, possessed two very important attributes that embody the entrepreneurial spirit: The willingness to dream big and the ability to leverage their available resources to achieve those dreams.
1) The willingness to dream big: Now this is often seen as a trite statement that hangs better on the wall of a company break room than in the hearts and minds of its employees. At some point in our lives we will find our dreams and aspirations challenged by our society or community's idea of what is possible. I will be the first to admit that there is great naivety in thinking that if you dream big enough it will all work out. Dreaming big does not guarantee success; however, refusal to dream big is a great way to guarantee you will not achieve great things. My most successful clients have demonstrated the ability to imagine a better future and the willingness to pursue it. Whether they are corporate executives, non-profit directors, association executives, actors, writers, or producers, they are willing to challenge and be challenged in regards to their assumptions about the future and their role in it.
2) The ability to leverage available resources: This attribute is especially important in the early stages of an entrepreneurial venture or when a company is moving into uncharted territory, such as new market space or product creation. The great obstacle of entrepreneurial ventures is typically funding. So many first-time entrepreneurs stop dead in their tracks, often just when things seem to be taking off, usually because they run out of money. Leveraging available resources requires individuals to re-think the value, functionality, and utility of the resources they have within reach. This may be in the form of human capital, industry expertise, intellectual property, or strategic relationships. These resources often go "un-leveraged" because the focus of the organization or the individual is so consumed by the task at hand.
I have encountered many who have an inclination toward the above attributes; however, these characteristics have been inhibited by the overwhelming pressures of success or the limited perspective of others in their environment. In effect, their entrepreneurial spirit has been squashed. Much of the work I do with clients is intended to nurture or revitalize these entrepreneurial attributes that I have found to be so essential to success. This process often begins with asking questions such as the following:
- Am I allowing circumstances to dictate my success, or am I taking an active role in dictating my circumstances in order to achieve success?
- Am I considering all possibilities or has my creative energy been curbed by conventional wisdom?
- Starting today, what action will I take to leverage my available resources in new ways?