We all remember that famous line from Dirty Dancing when Johnny Castle ( swoon ) marches over to Baby’s parents and lets them know just how he feels. We all felt the victory in that statement. We felt the tenacity and protection. And we all felt the enthusiasm and anticipation for what would happen next. Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner
That’s how the room of entrepreneurs felt at the Entrepreneur Extravaganza as actor Hill Harper addressed the crowd with thanks, letting us all know that, “without entrepreneurs, I don’t believe our country would be what it is today. Entrepreneurs are the engine of what keeps our country going.” Entrepreneurship isn’t merely a career choice. It’s a world-changing commitment. And it’s this commitment that has become the backbone of this country’s economy. Harper, an entrepreneur himself, offered these five tips for success (plus so much more!):
1. Create, Adapt and Sustain
You put your blood, sweat, and tears into making your idea a reality—make sure you’re agile enough to adapt and you have a plan and system in place to make it sustainable and long lasting. Adaptability is critical to the success of your venture. Markets change, people change—when you’re agile enough to adjust to the times and stay in tune with what your customers value, you’ll create loyal relationships with your clients. There are so many things that pop up that you don’t plan for along your journey, if you’re not adaptable, you will not have sustainability.
2. Become Self-Critical
Be willing to look at yourself—and your venture—in the mirror. Are you bringing anything new to the party? Are you doing something better, cheaper, or faster than anyone else? If you’re not providing something that hasn’t existed before, or doing something in a specific, special way, then step back and ask yourself, how can I set my business apart and make it shine?
3. Build Mental Muscles
There’s a certain mindset that successful people have. It’s filled with determination, perseverance, motivation, positivity…the list goes on and on. Do they run into obstacles? All the time. Do they experience setbacks? You betcha. Do they come across naysayers? More often than not. But the successful have spent their time building mental strength to keep them on their course, not letting obstacles and challenges distract them from their journey.
4. Be an Active Architect
Start with a blueprint —a plan. Blueprints are specific, down to the inches of the tile—and they’re written down on paper, so write it down or type it out! Then, make sure you have the foundation right—the elements needed to execute your plan: education, training, support systems, faith, etc. When stresses happen, it’s those foundational elements that you will rely on. Next, work on the framework —or the choices that you make. Our lives are shaped by the choices we make, and poor sets of choices can take you off your plan. Lastly, open doors for yourself. Expose yourself to new people, new ideas, and new information. Doors are usually the last things to be installed in a structure; when you open the right doors you may just end up somewhere you never dreamed you could be.
5. Be Socially Responsible
All of us have help along the way, whether it was mentors, support systems, financial assistance, or just good old fashion volunteers—for a project or a task. Well, what’s the use of having success, a platform, or resources unless you’re helping to make someone’s life better? There are tons of ways to give back, you can invest in youth programs, environmental programs, health programs…you name it. If you’re not financially able, invest a little sweat equity—volunteer your time and effort.
Hill Harper ended his session quoting Robert F. Kennedy, “The future does not belong to those that are fearful of bold projects and new ideas, but rather the future belongs to those who can blend passion, reason, and courage into a personal commitment to the great ideas and enterprises of American society.” As he addressed the room of entrepreneurs, he reiterated and entreated us all to blend our passion, blend our reason, and blend our courage—or our hearts, into all that we do. When we do that, we’re already winners.
Entrepreneurs, don’t let anyone back you into a corner—step out with passion and courage, and have the time of your life.