The #1 Reason For Being an Entrepreneur

After watching the documentary “Burt’s Buzz” I was reminded about why I have to be an entrepreneur. Everyone talks about passion, but the real reason for being an entrepreneur is freedom.

being an entrepreneur

being an entrepreneur

This was the running theme in the film about the unconventional life of entrepreneur Burt Shavitz, the icon and co-founder of Burt’s Bees. Before there was ever a billion dollar, all natural brand of personal care products, there was just Burt and his bees.

On the surface, Shavitz seems like an unlikely businessman. But if you trace his history, being an entrepreneur was really the only thing he was ever suited for. He had no interest in a 9 to 5 job, and ended up using his skills with a camera to pick up freelance photography work for publications like The New York Times and Life magazine. He was in the right place at the right time and capitalized on the turbulent times of the ’60’s in New York City. But as TV became more popular as a way of highlighting the emotion of the times, he saw that as his chance to move out of the city and reinvent himself in a small town in upstate New York. [Read more…]

Why People Play the Odds

It seems that everything is getting harder these days, including the lottery. The recent Powerball odds went from 1 in 175 to 1 in 292 million. More numbers have been added, which means the odds have gotten tougher. It’s also gotten twice as hard to win that second prize if you are lucky enough to get all of the correct numbers except the Powerball number.

play the odds

play the odds

Even though we have a better chance of being killed by an asteroid strike, millions of Americans still play the lottery every week. Millions still play the odds. And it’s not just the lottery.

Every year eager young actors, writers, and directors flock to New York City and Hollywood for a chance to make it big. Even though the odds of actually getting on the A list are slim, there is never a shortage of talent that wants to prove everyone wrong.

According to Harvard Business School only 18% of entrepreneurs succeed in their first business venture. Yet every day new entrepreneurs enter the market. [Read more…]

Can Industry Awards Help Your Small Business?

industry awards

industry awards

Several years ago I entered my running product in an industry awards contest that was sponsored by NASDAQ and launched at a large, well-established fitness trade show. After a few rounds it finally ended up being one of the semi finalists.

Before the trade show we were an unknown company with a brand new product, and we were struggling to get some traction and recognition with retail buyers.

Because of the contest we had buyers visiting our booth, which was hidden in the basement floor of the trade show. And at the end of the show NASDAQ had a party for the semi finalists, along with a lot of publicity.

This happened again when we won the Toyman award for innovation and quality, as voted on by consumers, and then became a product of the year in Creative Child Magazine. We got an extra boost in traffic and sales after both of them.

So, is it a good idea for small businesses to apply for awards? Do they help? Here are a few responses from small business owners: [Read more…]

Book Smarts or Street Smarts?

A recent debate at the Eastern Correctional Facility in New York between prison inmates and the Harvard debate team had me questioning whether it’s better to have street smarts or book smarts. In the end the “book smart” Harvard debate team was defeated by the “street smart” prisoners.

book smarts or street smarts

book smarts or street smarts

But the street smart prisoners didn’t win simply by their street smarts alone. They had a lot of help…from books. Through the Bard Prison Initiative, which gives incarcerated men and women the opportunity to pursue a college degree while serving their time, the prison debate team put themselves through a grueling educational boot camp to prepare. They had no access to the Internet and had to wait for weeks sometimes for a book to be cleared by security.

And this wasn’t a one time fluke. They’ve beaten multiple college debate teams in the past.

Simply having a formal college degree isn’t the answer to everything. Yes, you need it if you want to practice law or medicine, but to succeed in life you need something else that the prison debate team had a lot of… intellectual curiosity AND street smarts.

I put out a request to hear from others about which skill was better. Here’s what I heard:

“I have a sixth grade education and I’ve owned/co-owned three successful businesses over the last 20+ years. I have college graduates wanting to come work for me at $10.00 an hour and they are struggling to pay of $60,000.00+ in student loans. I got my education at the local library for free. I’ve never had to worry about paying back a student loan. [Read more…]

The Future of Work – Freelance

A recent study commissioned by the Freelancers Union and elance-oDesk found that at least one third of the workforce in the United States are freelancers. This number is anticipated to increase in the coming years, and will change the future of work as we know it. In fact, by 2020 it’s estimated that one in three workers will be freelance.

The job market of the past was pretty straight forward. You go to college (or not), pick a career path, and stick with it for life. When someone asked you what you did for a living, you would pick one title. But these days it’s not unusual to have several titles. Publicist/marketer/writer/photographer, etc.

The idea of freelancing is nothing new. It’s been going on since the 1800’s. What is new is the number of jobs and industries that are now included in the freelancing realm. With the advent of the Internet the number of jobs and industries has increased dramatically. You can now easily hire a freelancer from anywhere in the world, and the opportunities for freelancers is only going to get bigger. [Read more…]