Just a few days ago, on June 20th, I celebrated my 80th birthday.
It seems unfathomable.
I've spent 80 years on this planet, more than half of those pursuing my dream of helping small business owners build their companies and realize their dreams.
That's been the passion of my life, the thing that drives me. Continuously. Relentlessly.
In that time I've written more than 20 books in which I've done my best to impart all that I've learned and discovered along the way.
All based on my belief than anyone is capable of becoming an entrepreneur and creating his or her own personal masterwork--a tour de force, if you will.
So, in honor of this milestone in my life, and to celebrate all of you who are striving every day to build something of substance, value and meaning, here, in exactly 80 words, are some of the nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom I've discovered over the years.
I hope they will inspire you to unleash the entrepreneur within you, with all the power and passion that entails.
No More "Doin' It, Doin' It, Doin' It" (1 through 8)
It's rare that a phrase can so clearly capture a feeling, but I know that this one does.
When I say, "doin' it, doin' it, doin' it" to a group of small business owners, they immediately respond. They recognize the experience of doing the same things over and over. Keeping the business afloat without ever getting ahead. And it's more than frustrating--it's heartbreaking.
Entrepreneurs Are Made, Not Born (9 through 13)
Unlike what most people think, entrepreneurs are not special people who know how to do special things that others don't. Entrepreneurs can be made, because we're all born with the potential--that special human quality--to create.
Start With a Blank Piece of Paper and a Beginner's Mind (14 through 24)
This means freeing yourself from the past, from what you think is true, from what the so-called experts have led you to believe. Entrepreneurship requires an unvanquished spirit of curiosity, an openness to learning, a letting go of OldCo so you're free to create NewCo.
A Big Idea and a Great Result (25 through 31)
A true entrepreneurial enterprise begins with a big idea--a unique way to solve a customer's problem. Your customer, after all, is the only justification for creating a company in the first place. Without a big, transformational idea, you can't produce a great result for your customer.
Dream, Vision, Purpose, and Mission: The Foundation Upon Which Your Enterprise Will Stand (32 through 44)
In a nutshell:
The Dream is your big, transformational idea.
The Vision is the business model you'll use to achieve your Dream.
The Purpose is the result you'll produce for every customer.
The Mission is to create the systems that will make it all happen.
Become Part of the Grass Roots Revolution (45 through 51)
Entrepreneurship at the grass roots level is the key to restoring struggling economies worldwide. Why? Because economic prosperity can only be grown from the bottom up, through the extreme creation and growth of businesses by people who inhabit that economy.
Work ON Your Business, Not Just IN It (52 through 59)
Entrepreneurs are creators, big idea generators, innovators. If you're stuck doin' it, doin' it, doin' it in your business, you're not fulfilling the role of an entrepreneur. Step back from the day-to-day activities and build the systems that lead to real growth.
The Scalability Matrix: Turnkey It, Replicate It, Scale It (60 through 68)
The key to growing a business isn't rocket science: Turnkey every activity so you can teach it to anyone. This allows you to replicate, or repeat, each activity--consistently and effectively. When you can replicate it, you can scale it--which means GROW, GROW, GROW.
Your Ultimate Liquidity Date (69 through 72)
From Day 1 you should be planning for your ultimate Liquidity Date, which I also refer to as The Sale Is Consummated. This is the day you sell your turn-keyed, great growing company to an eager buyer. You did it! You created exactly what you set out to create!
You're Never Too Old; It's Never Too Late (73 through 80)
This idea, obviously, did not originate with me, and probably needs no explanation. But on this occasion, I thought it would be worth remembering:
At 59, Ray Kroc franchised McDonald's.
At 69, Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize.
At 75, Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa.
At 76, Grandma Moses first began to paint.
At 99, Teiichi Igarashi climbed Mt. Fuji.
And at 80, I'm still going strong, and plan to be for a long, long time.