We are newly forming industry, entrepreneurship is. And we are mostly still comprised of white gazelles. That’s where all industries are born. With exceptionalism. And with that kind of exceptionalism comes an elitist mentality. One that was required for that high achiever to reach and achieve breakthroughs and create new knowledge through discovery. It is this elitist portion of our entrepreneurial society that needs to be making a whole lot more small investments into entrepreneurs to get our industry humming. And if not them, then those who can afford to kick in a few bucks and invest in their communities. And here is why:
Good projects are born from entrepreneurial passions. They come from the things we love. That’s where it all starts for us. Unlike your focus on returns first, investor, entrepreneurs are focused on growing the idea up. And what I have learned is that if you help entrepreneurs keep their love alive, it will make for a far better investment with much better odds of achieving a good financial return for you.
And here’s why:
- Because entrepreneurs brave enough to decide to spend their own time and as much of their money as they can, to take an idea as far into becoming a venture as they can, are worth investing into.
- Because we want to do that thing all day anyway, so why not just help us get it to pay sooner ‘cause we won’t give up’. We fundamentally are not quitters. That is also why you want to invest in us sooner.
But that’s not what is happening. Those investments are not being made early. That early money is impossible to find. So for that entrepreneur I just described, instead, reality sets in.
Reality Take 1:
Not many are listening or contributing or getting excited about our version ‘shitty-draft’ 1. So we try some more because we are smart enough to know getting started as an entrepreneur means a shitty first draft. So, we tell ourselves its ok and start working on version 2. But we spent all our money on version 1.
And here is a pivotal moment- if there has been no industry specific mentorship and stewardship, and maybe a few bucks chipped in to support a much more scalable version 2, what comes back is a better version 2, but still off the mark like version 1; but even less robustly presented because funds are getting low.
And then to add insult to injury, Reality Take 2:
That poor entrepreneur with 2 cylinders spinning madly, has some more people reject them and worse some are writing them off because they flunked the first test and there are no second chances with investors.
And it might actually be ok if it all stopped right there. But it doesn’t. Remember we are talking about obsessions and love. So next the manic phase swings in. The entrepreneur decides: ‘Oh no, I see the errors of my ways. It’s not all wrong. I see what I missed and what I need to do now. Stupid me.’
And painfully the trep pivots largely on their own and the good news is things do get better. The signs are encouraging. There is an uptick in interest, a customer or two, and a mentor shows up. But still no money.
And that’s when the other shoe falls. Realty Take 3.
Friends and family start to see that the entrepreneur looks haggard and worn down and they can’t be silent anymore: ‘What the F*** are you doing with your money? This is never going to pay. Don’t you see that? How dumb are you? You have been working at this for XXX and this is all you got to show? Go back and get that great paying job you had. Seriously. Stop being so self absorbed and take care of your family. ’
And boy does that entrepreneur feel pretty dumb. Because their right. The nest egg did get drained.
Look: We all need someone to lean on. Entrepreneurship development is about staged growth. Different pant sizes. Bigger shoes. We need support and financial investment incrementally along the way if you want a lot of us to grow up.
Remember dear investor its’ like asking a new born to climb out of the womb and next be able to run to support their family in their first few years of their own life’.
Startups require nurturing and staged development for a lot of them to become viable sustainable businesses. Building new profit centers that can power families, repay handsomely smaller investment and support communities are not like white gazelles. They take more time. I started a business at 17 and it took me until the age of 21 to support myself fully and I self-funded on credit cards. I wonder what I could have done if someone had given me 500K right then? There are days I think I would have been a white gazelle had I been given the mentorship and support that Mark Zuckerberg got. My ideas were about as youthfully developed as his own back then. But that kind of support doesn’t come to folks like me. Even though I built a business that has supported my family for over 35 years.
And I see lots and lots of small business owners struggling who could use a small amount of help to get tire 3 and 4 engaged and spinning in their project to flip that truck over and get it to run and become a venture. Investments into technology, 1 key hire, and especially sales and marketing, incrementally starting with the biggest problem first and meeting goals, can build a ton of them profitably.
And to those of you who routinely invest. Here is the real upside:
We wouldn’t dig our heels in quite so much and be so stubborn and dumb. Why? Because we would still be excited about our projects and not feeling emotionally, mentally and physically spent for simply having a good idea and doing everything we were able to do, largely on our own, to make it come alive. And all because we believed we could do something good for the world and to support ourselves and our family.
The state of entrepreneurship growth will change when an entrepreneur doing good work at the lowest level is supported to take the next step up. It is so emotionally void and dysfunctional for a society to not do this and expect a different result. Talk about crazy making.
There are 2 kinds of entrepreneurs I see who deserve investment and who are not getting it:
#1 The kind who have magically, like the white gazelles done most every right thing except for usually one big key thing. Their big original idea and innovation that they sunk every dollar into, and continue to spend on R&D, they need a platform built and don’t have a technical founder on their team and they can’t pay someone. Or they need marketing and its stopping them and they legitimately can’t afford it without investment. I have an amazing engineer with a business that fits the second bill. They need 2 more million OR to pay IAEOU/Sana’s Kitchen to become their marketing arm and help them grow to get it through traction in sales. Raise 2 million or 100K tops. Which sounds better to you, investor?
#2 The kind that have more than 2 out of 4 wheels on the truck spinning madly but can’t get 3 or 4 down yet on the ground to get the traction they need to find substantial investment. I have a pile of those who need a small amount of technical assistance from web development to digital tool integrations, and the majority who need sales and brand positioning marketing support to get them running as solid long term profitable businesses that may or may not ever scale but are 100% viable.
So where are these investments going to come from?
I was telling a friend of mine, Dwayne Hirsh, at the Small Business Advocacy Council in Chicago, just yesterday, that we need to bring affinity groups together to build a small business network for investment. We don’t need to single out affinity groups but join them through entrepreneurship at the hip to ensure more people can patronize and care about those they most relate to and understand and want to invest into. I think this would be a wonderful project for the Illinois Business Incubator Association (IBIA) to which IAEOU is a key partner.
It’s time to get those who are able to invest into small business nurturing them and showing them some love and support. All we need is someone to lean on and a small amount of money to grow our traction to generate more sales and investment. That’s all.
To your highest purpose and best self friends.
To learn more about me go to SanasKitchen, iaeou.me, Crowdfund Capital Advisors, LisaCanning.com, Lisa’s Clarinet Shop, or Royal Musical Instruments. You can also find me on Linkedin.
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For more information about The Illinois Business Incubator Association IBIA or becoming a member click here.