Huddled over a scooped-out-to-empty deodorant stick, re-filling it with soft butter in the kitchen of the condo we were staying at in Turks and Caicos for our family Christmas vacation I finally accepted that my family was not normal. We were spending christmas eve 'inventing' the Amazing Butter Stick! Butters corn and toast without dirtying a knife. Gone are the days of slippery butter sliding off your utensils! The Amazing Butter Stick will solve all of your problems!
Yes, this seriously happened...and I selected one of the mid-range embarrassing family invention / business brainstorming session to retail you with.
How about this one -- going to a deeper level of trust and intimacy with you here. Problem: men's testicles sticking to their inner thighs and generally being uncomfortable. Solution: SAXX Underwear -- patented side panels give their bits and legs some time apart. This was my brothers idea and ultimately a business he sold which was hatched on a family fishing trip in the Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada.
Or the time that my brother and I barricaded our street with some leftover construction barricades my Dad had in the back of his truck. We swept about 700 meters of the street to a clean that you could eat off of and then set up a couple of chairs at the barricade. Five pm rolled around and we charged every homeowner to cross through the barricade and drive unto their pristine street compliments of our elbow grease and the fact that we both knew they would pay us because we were kids. I was 7 and my brother was 4.
Were we born this way? Perhaps we were born with a predisposition to ask 'why not' and levels of testosterone slightly higher than most, but that would be the limit of it in my opinion.
I think that the lions share of capacity for entrepreneurship comes from being buffed into an entrepreneur. I use the word buffed because it is a slow process over time. Like a continuous motion one hardly recognizes is happening until at some point, a shine wears through and we begin to notice it at which point the buffing is usually stopped dead in its tracks (this is called fear) or it is continued but much more deliberately (this is called thinking about starting a business).
People are often confused into thinking we entrepreneurs are born this way usually because, as a result of growing up in entrepreneurial families we are polished into entrepreneurs in just the right kind of environment which makes exceptional entrepreneurs.
Here are the Top 5 reasons growing up in my family created not one but 2 multimillion dollar entrepreneurs Hint-most are replicable for you and you don't have to come to Christmas dinner, so pay attention.
(1) Look for problems -- see them as opportunities -- talk to anyone who will talk to you about them
People at the subway stop are game as are anyone who sits next to you on a plane.
(2) Always allow chaos in -- let stuff happen which will help you see problems close up
Like never check your tires before cross-country road trips so you get at least 3 flats a hundred miles from civilization - you will find lots of problems with marketable solutions.
(3) Set huge goals but plan fine details (almost everything) last minute -- this allows for great flexibility and for you to incorporate current knowledge of the market, data, clients wants and needs in right up until product launch
Christmas presents are best purchased on Christmas Eve afternoon.
(4) Nothing is normal or weird -- Never focus on what the norm is or what is standard procedure. Rules are there for interpretation, unless they accompany jail time. Keep every solution open as an option.
"I locked the keys in the house da*n it, and I have to get you two to school. Ugh, my AAA ran out and to renew is going to be $150 plus we will be late. One of you kids take this field hockey stick and break one of your bedroom windows, it will cost less than $150 to repair, no one will break into the house way out here and we won't be late for school this way."
(5) Always ask why not, then when you get an answer, ask why.
"OK fine, if we win in the 9th race at the track then you can go bungee jumping." Why not? "Because it is not safe." Why? "Well, I am sure it is safe but should kids who are 12 and 9 bungee jump?" Why not?" ... you see how it works. Yes, yes we did and there is tape to prove it.
I am not necessarily saying you should take the Griswold Family (remember Chevvy Chase in those great movies from the 80's and 90's -- I even incorporated a family business with the same name -- mis-spelled -- in its honour) approach to life to ensure you buff yourself to an entrepreneurial readiness shine. I am saying that if you incorporate this kind of thinking or frame your world in these ways, you will be on the right track to helping disprove that entrepreneurs are only born... because they are in fact made.
With truth and trust... and a little over sharing,
PS: I am working on a piece about collaboration and I am wondering if you have a story to share about a success you have had in your business because you collaborated as opposed to looked at an opportunity through the eyes of competition. How have you used collaboration to build success?
If you have a friend who might benefit from my insights -- please share my site with them (www.kelseyramsden.com), ask them to sign up for my newsletter there.
If your story weaves into the piece I will use it. if not I will lock it in the vault -- I've always been exceptional at keeping trust. Another thing one is buffed into... a trust builder.
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