Do you have what it takes to step into the entrepreneurial arena? A quick google search can give you 5 steps, 10 steps and maybe even just the first step to becoming an entrepreneur.
Is this approach necessary? What about living on the wild side of life and just taking a deep dive into the unknown world of entrepreneurship and seeing what you got? Deb Blecha, owner-operator of Graphically Deb, stumbled across an opportunity and was bold (or delirious) enough to step up and take the challenge. She stepped into the restaurant business with The Dog House while selling radio ads. Deb dived in and the entrepreneur's adventurous journey began.
As we discussed her journey, Deb not only shared the lessons she learned along the way, but you can hear the joy and excitement she experienced in the process. While the Dog House was her first experience, it was just the beginning of the passion she found in the process that led to her second business venture, Graphically Deb.
Becoming the entrepreneur
There is a systematic approach as well as a more free-spirited way of approach to most things, starting a business is no exception. Although there are probably hundreds of thousands of books, articles, and courses that teach how to strategically approach becoming an entrepreneur albeit many (if not all) are effective.
To start a business using standard planning and strategy the idea is typically to minimize risk and increase reward. However, it is also well noted that risk taking or risk tolerance, adaptability, vision, and confidence to make decisions shows up on every list of 'characteristics of entrepreneurs' in some form. Have a clear idea, write out your business plan, determine legal structure and so on is often part of the prescribed standard to start a business. This can also feel crippling to many people that have ideas and also have insurmountable fears and paralysis of meeting these standards, and so nothing happens in many cases.
What if you bypass the noise and stuffiness of all the rules and restrictions and truly embrace the character and spirit of an entrepreneur in the most raw form?
Deb Blecha was selling radio ads when she met with the owner of The Dog House. When the elderly man explained he didn't need anymore radio ads because he was ready to walk away from the business, Deb got curious and made the assessment that she could possibly turn the business around. For an offer she couldn't refuse, she steps into acquiring the lease, the equipment and all the joys of running the The Dog House. I think this is where some may say ignorance is bliss, but Deb found bliss (on and off) throughout her Dog House adventure by just taking a deep dive into business.
"I don't think you learn unless you take some of those deep dives, and go 'I'm going for it'." -Deb Blecha
Becoming the entrepreneur for Deb started with seeing an opportunity and taking action. I think it's worth pointing out that she was not searching for an opportunity to become an entrepreneur. How often are opportunities presented to us or placed in our path that become nothing more than a thought because no action is taken? How many opportunities are you missing because you are not engaged with people and asking the right questions? Deb could have been there to sell the radio ad only and left without knowing about the Dog House opportunity had she not been engaged in the conversation with her client or focused on his needs.
Dr. Heidi Neck, Ph.D, a professor at Babson College teaches entrepreneurship at the MBA level and talks about Entrepreneurial Intelligence in a TEDx talk video that you can view here. In her talk she defines entrepreneurial intelligence as "the courage to act on opportunities under varying conditions of unknowingness." When you listen to Deb's interview her courage is evident. Not only was she courageous to take on the Dog House opportunity with no prior experience, she was also courageous in looking beyond the surface level needs of the business. Deb reveals an intuition to connect with her customers and find a menu that would best serve their time coming in for lunch.
ENTREPRENERUIAL INTELLIGENCE: The courage to act on opportunities under varying conditions of unknowingness (Dr. Heidi Neck, PhD)
Beyond the courage is a curiosity to see what works, what can be improved, and how the connections with the people can be deepened. Deb walked into what most entrepreneurs find to be a harsh reality check. Handling taxes for the business, supplies, marketing and promotions, and staffing were all unchartered waters for her, but she navigated the uncertainty and embraced the lessons. (Click here for more about uncertainty)
By Dr. Neck's definition, Deb has a naturally high level of entrepreneurial intelligence that carried her through the first leg of her journey and onward. Dr. Neck ends her talk explaining that entrepreneurial intelligence is the ability to thrive, transcend and navigate increasing levels of uncertainty. What also makes Deb's journey such a value to study is her excitement to learn and embrace failures and challenges along the way that exemplifies what it is to be an entrepreneur.
Deb values learning, continually evolving and living outside of her comfort zone. Skills are a necessity for her to optimize success and quality of products for her clients. Taking action and executing on the things that contribute greatest to your business' growth are high priorities for how she operates.
Takeaways with Deb for Becoming the Entrepreneur (from her experiences):
Be able to bounce from one thing to another and learn in the process
When you take a deep dive, be sure to step back and note the lessons
Be excited to learn and explore
Love where you are in the moment and enjoy the journey
Be intentional about putting in the work
Do the most productive work everyday to move forward
How do you find your passion? I believe this question is asked as often as, 'how's the weather?'. Many of us strain with the concept of finding our passion. Have you felt like you were left wandering around looking for it like it was something you lost but should've had in your back pocket the whole time? Maybe you've spent time digging deep in search of your passion only to resurface feeling like you've lost something valuable. In reality, I am not sure how to lose what you never had, but I have come to find the secret sauce behind passion through the teachings of Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory:
Interest + Mastery = Passion
Through Deb's venture with the Dog House she found what she didn't enjoy and she found a love for illustrating and marketing. She's explored selling advertising and even went after a position to run the marketing and art departments for a larger company only to find out that her skill level was not to their standards and expectations. Rather than settle, she stepped her game and accepted the next challenge by taking on