Do you have what it takes to build a truly sustainable business?
There are plenty of tests out there by organizations like Founder's Institute. However, as an entrepreneur for over 17 years I will tell you that there is no test yet, like the real world of execution that separates the winners and losers.
These are the three critical DNA strands for success. I hope the examples included to personify these traits inspire you to get out of bed an hour earlier tomorrow.
Jeremy Wade was a rising star at the U.S. Treasury 5 years after graduating with a finance degree from Pittsburg State in the midst of the financial crisis. Living in San Francisco, doing risk analysis for middle market banks, he had earned job security, and was on a secure path to increased management responsibility at the U.S. Treasury Department.
Then he sold everything he owned (that wouldn't fit into two pieces of luggage), quit his job and moved to New Dehli, India, (where he knew nobody) at age 27 to get a global perspective. He used enrollment in an MA in Diplomacy, Law, and Business as his excuse to leave everything he knew.
Guts is the entrepreneurial DNA strand that allows someone to take the leap into the unknown with a mixed state of curiosity and focus and to harness the ability to convert fear into fuel and excitement about what lay possible on the blank canvas of life.
Wade has now started and runs a one-of-a-kind incubator for social enterprise and innovation (JSIE) in India and is inspiring and enabling entrepreneurs across Asia and the Middle East to solve problems together.
His vision is radically inclusive growth.
Wade said, "There is tremendous untapped potential around the world, but we urgently need to decentralize innovation and problem solving."
His gutsy efforts to develop in uncharted territory have paid early returns on influence as he has visited on numerous occasions with the Prime Minister of Tibet, and received an invitation to dinner with Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2016.
You don't know how much pain you can take until everything you think you value, has been take away and all that you are left with is the fragile memory of the dream you began chasing when you started your business.
No couple personifies entrepreneurial grit like Joshua and Cindy Denne.
Imagine that you have built a multi-million dollar net worth with houses, cars, etc after having not finished high school, and have a beautiful young family with 2 children under the age of 2. Then in 2011, through a perfect storm of a few bad investments and partnerships, you lose it all. You are one million dollars in personal debt, homeless, and on food stamps.
What would you do next?
Joshua Denne pulled out his iPhone and began to record his life, (heart palpitations, and emotions) in real time on the firm belief that all of it was just temporary.
Fast forward four short years later on the back of sheer will, faith, and 100+ hour work weeks, the Denne's built a new distribution business in partnership with the Seacret brand that does over $150 million per year in revenue and growing.
Joshua put the lessons learned in his recent book release Inevitable (on Kindle).
Stacey Ferreira (a frequent speaker at Inc. events co-founded MySocialCloud at 18 and sold it by 20. She is now the CEO/Founder of Forge at the age of 23. She leveraged her boldness and the inherent connectivity of a socially networked world to reach out directly to Richard Branson at the age of 18 and received an invite to meet in Miami. The trip would cost approximately $4,000 for her and her co-founder brother. They found money they didn't have and you can see her discuss the lesson at "How a Tweet to Richard Branson Land an Investment".
Gall is a critical strand that is ageless and allows for you to believe that you have every right to go for your dream regardless of who you are, what color you are, or where you came from, as long as you are willing to follow that boldness up with commitment and reliability to see it through.
The purpose of my column will be to bring you insights and stories from the unglamorous and amazing world of business building from startup-through the growth curve, and after exit. I fundamentally believe that the real risk is doing nothing and that the coming decade will be the most amazing time humanity has ever experienced.
Cultivate these critical strands of dna and I promise to meet you on the front lines as I continue to build our business. I will see you out there on the field of play!