10 Winning Entrepreneur Insights That May Surprise You

Every aspiring entrepreneur would love to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos, but most have no idea what really sets these guys apart from all the rest. Conventional wisdom has them looking for a painful problem, a very large opportunity, and minimal competitive barriers to entry. In reality, most great entrepreneurs find these necessary, but not sufficient for the big win.

They think outside the box, with a sometimes surprising set of strategies, as outlined in a new book, “Think Bigger,” by Michael Sonnenfeldt. He has collected in-the-trenches intelligence and lessons from his TIGER 21 group of over 500 entrepreneurs and executives around the world. Each has amassed $10 million or more in personal assets, and is willing to share their insights with others.

Sonnenfeldt presents a rich array of strategies in his forty lessons from the trenches, including the following paraphrased insights that I find often overlooked or even rejected, based on my years of experience mentoring entrepreneurs:

  1. Experience at a first-rate company is really valuable. Good big companies provide the training, mentoring, and experience managing teams that entrepreneurs need, but can’t afford. In addition, you can learn much about business principles, and your own capabilities, from being surrounded by many intense, ambitious, and super-smart peers.
  2. Entrepreneurship is rarely about just making money. The best entrepreneurs are committed to fixing a problem, or advancing a purpose, and making money is only used as a validation of their insight. Any money made is typically poured back into the cause, rather than relished for a high-class lifestyle or extravagances by the entrepreneur.
  3. Self-control beats passion for long term satisfaction. Passion often leads to a need for instant gratification. Most successful entrepreneurs either learn or are born with the capacity to delay gratification for critical periods in their lives. Even after success, they use self-control to continue to live modestly, and plow their profits back into business.
  4. Think twice before investing with friends and family. Some are so self-centered that they see family and friends as an easy source of capital. Smarter entrepreneurs know that nothing can bring more embarrassment, resentment, and peril to relationships with people you love and respect than losing their money. Don’t jeopardize key relationships.
  5. You are never to smart or too old for a mentor. In case you think mentors are only for “wimps,” you should know that Bill Gates always revered the guidance he received from Warren Buffet on many corporate matters. Most successful business people, whether retired or still active, love to share the wisdom they gained from their own experience.
  6. Entrepreneurial skills can limit investing success. Entrepreneurs and investors are different kinds of people, inside and out. Smart investors diversify their exposure across multiple assets; if any one of these fails, they are still in the game. A true entrepreneur makes one big bet on a new and untested asset, normally against conventional wisdom.
  7. Apply business skills to solve social problems. Social entrepreneurship is on the rise, with the advent of Millennials and a total world view. Companies that pursue socially relevant goals as part of their mission have the potential to generate double-bottom-line results – a financial return as well as a social benefit. One plus one can now equal three.
  8. Skip conservative – be optimistic, even delusional.  The best entrepreneurs just believe they can make it happen – even though conventional logic would peg the risk as being off the charts. Professional investors dismiss founders who give “conservative” financial projections, and usually make less. Shoot for the moon – you may hit it.
  9. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Too many entrepreneurs have a tendency to overrate their personal skills and wisdom, and seek out people who won’t challenge them. The smartest ones acknowledge their weaknesses, and find people who complement their skills, from whom they can learn and delegate authority.
  10. Resilience and determination generally beat IQ. We all know of successful businesses started by entrepreneurs who dropped out of school, while MBAs get no premium with investors. According to most experts, “street smarts” (experience) trump “book smarts” (intelligence) every time, especially if accompanied with a large dose of grit.

Whether you are already a seasoned entrepreneur, or just starting out, I recommend that you regularly strive to think bigger and outside the box, starting with the lessons from others who have been there and done that, and emerged successfully. We need you then to contribute to the next set of winning strategies for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

[“Source-alleywatch”]

Meet the stylish entrepreneur making cannabis gear that women actually want

April Pride poses in the well-curated passageway of the downtown building where Van der Pop is located in Seattle.(Credit: Kristen Angelo/Narratively)

This article originally appeared on Narratively.

April Pride is standing on a side street north of Little Italy in New York with a cell phone pressed against her ear, telling someone on the other end that she needs ten-to-fifteen feet of rope. She’s traveled here for one night from her home in Seattle to host a salon about cannabis and sex at the Alchemist’s Kitchen, a shop in the East Village that sells herbal remedies and botanical medicines. But first, she’s ordering material for a sail she’s erecting over the entrance to her shop called Van der Pop in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, which sells high-end cannabis products for women. It’s a hard-to-find, sleek spot located up some stairs and above a restaurant. She wants to give her clients as much privacy as possible.

Read more Narratively: Why Breast Cancer Survivors Are Reclaiming an Ancient Jewish Ritual

“Women don’t want to go into dispensaries,” Pride says, noting men run many of the shops. “They find them intimidating and they’re worried they’re going to run into their kid’s teacher.”

Pride, who is 41 with free-flowing auburn hair, launched Van der Pop in January 2016 and has become an unlikely voice for reversing the stigma that has followed women smokers for years.

Read more Narratively: Courtney Williams Is on a Mission to Get Black and Brown People to Bike

Dasheeda Dawson, the southwest regional market leader for Women Grow, an organization that connects women in the cannabis industry, explains when she “came out of the cannabis closet,” other women of color criticized her for being open about smoking around her thirteen-year-old son, especially having grown up during the War on Drugs.

“I think the judgment is that you don’t have a high regard for yourself,” she says.

Read more Narratively: This “Old Guy With a Sign” Protests Trump Every Single Day

Pride also credits Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign to her being anti-drug for much of her childhood. She grew up in a Virginia town where people maintained southern hospitality, but extended invites into their social circle based on a family’s standing. Her parents openly smoked joints and she still remembers how appalled she was. She didn’t smoke in high school, but began warming up to marijuana in college and was especially turned on to an easy-going lifestyle after visiting the west coast one summer.

Now, this demographic is gaining a foothold in the industry. Thirty-six percent of executives are female compared to just twenty-two percent in other industries,and women make up forty percent of users annually. Of these women, over eleven million are over the age of 26. Under two million are teenagers.

Pride broke into the industry with little knowledge about the science and research behind the drug’s benefits, but knew it made movie night with her husband more fun, helped her bond with her kids, and boosted her sex life. For the most part, she seems like an average working mom who enjoys getting high.

“When I discovered Van der Pop, I thought ‘What a breath of fresh air,’” says Gigi Mae Cueva, a merchandising consultant who wants to work with Pride and is a cannabis user herself. “Men just think women are such delicate figures that it’s not what they expect. I think with [Pride] coming into play, it sheds some light that we do think about [weed] in a certain way, in a sexualized way. I think it’s great Van der Pop can break that mold.”

The idea behind Van der Pop is to create chic products that mimic other aspects of customers’ lives. If they can have beautiful purses, why shouldn’t their weed accessories be up to par, too? Several of Van der Pop’s products are designed to maintain discretion as well. One of Pride’s newest items, a leather purse called Poppins Stash Bag (named after Mary Poppins’ medicine bag stowing her ‘spoonful of sugar’), is outfitted with a bank lock to keep out snoopers. She’s also planning to sell swaths of odor-blocking fabric so women can arrive at cocktail parties without betraying their stashes to hostesses or guests.

Van der Pop has also become a place to talk freely about topics like sexual pleasure, menopause, cramps, and the portrayal of female users seen on social media or in advertisements, like “dab girls” who smoke in thongs or pose with a bong between their legs. Pride whips out a water-stained copy of mg Magazine, a leading cannabis trade magazine, and flips to an ad featuring a photo of a woman in a low-slung dress. She comments that this is modest by usual standards.

For about an hour after the talk ends, the women mingle and consider the products. One group revisits the CBD clitoris revelation. “Who wouldn’t want that?” a woman asks rhetorically.

Later, Pride grabs an IPA to decompress. She and her husband don’t drink in the house, so this is a treat. As the night wears on, she goes outside to smoke a joint. She thinks the event went well and approves of the intimate setting. It makes women feel comfortable asking potentially embarrassing questions.

“It’s going to be impactful if it’s grassroots,” she says of the movement. “No pun intended.”

“REFUGEE TO ENTREPRENEUR” PROGRAM GIVES FREE WEB DESIGN TO REFUGEES“

“Refugee to Entrepreneur” Program Gives Free Web Design to Refugees

According to one Toronto media group, many refugees share the same qualities as successful entrepreneurs: They exhibit the drive and determination to both set and achieve lofty goals.

Many refugees operated small businesses prior to relocation, and, though uprooted, their instinct to succeed remains. The only thing missing? Funding. This is where Little Dragon Media comes in.

The media company, titled after Bruce Lee’s Mandarin byname, has launched the Refugee to Entrepreneur program to provide free business services such as marketing and web design for the entrepreneurial-minded refugee. Any migrant may apply, as long as they meet a few basic standards.

“A refugee technically has many of the skills and qualities required to be a successful entrepreneur, such as drive, hunger and resilience,” said Penny MacGillivray, program coordinator at Little Dragon media. “They often just lack the funds and marketing knowledge to take the leap into entrepreneurship, which is where we think we can help.”

According to Little Dragon, the program is best suited for those with a strong command of the English or French languages, as well as proven expertise in their field. The program is open to people in nearly any industry including plumbers, movers, electricians, and restauranteurs.

Once accepted, the future business owners receive everything from logo design and web hosting to a free domain and training sessions.

“When refugees get to work, they win, and their community wins,” said Ms. MacGillivray. “Many refugees are highly educated and skilled people. Also some of them were already running successful businesses in their home country before war and political turmoil pushed them to leave everything behind and flee their homeland. It only makes sense to help them recreate their businesses here whenever possible.”

In a world where refugees find themselves targets of public scrutiny and face increasing threat of deportation, its a breath of fresh air to see Little Dragon supporting those in need. Through a similar effort, Starbucks has taken action to hire 10,000 refugees within the next five years. Support of this magnitude promotes a much-needed sense of unity across the world.

In the words of Little Dragon CEO Amine Rahal, “at the end of the day, we’re all newcomers. Whether you’re a 5th generation Scottish, 3rd generation Italian or 1st generation Syrian, it’s pretty much the same thing. This is the new world and opportunities are available for everyone.”

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Toronto Web Design Agency Launches “Refugee to Entrepreneur” Program to Offer Free Web Development and Marketing Services to Refugees

The program will help refugees who meet the minimum requirements stated on the company’s website, such as a good command of the English language (or French for those based in Quebec), proof of company registration (preferred but not necessary), education or proof of expertise in their field, proof of refugee status, a minimum of 2 references and certifications or accreditations if those apply. “We have limited resources so obviously we cannot help everyone, especially those that cannot speak the language or those without proper paperwork and education, but for those refugees that meet our criteria, this could be a great opportunity.”

“When refugees get to work, they win, and their community wins. Many refugees are highly educated and skilled people. Also some of them were already running successful businesses in their home country before war and political turmoil pushed them to leave everything behind and flee their homeland. It only makes sense to help them recreate their businesses here whenever possible,” said Ms. MacGillivray.

For refugees that meet the criteria, Little Dragon will offer a free package which includes:

  • Free website design (up to 5 static pages).
  • Free logo design.
  • Free web hosting for 1 year.
  • Free domain name for 1 year.
  • Free training on how to update site and use back-end features
  • Free Google My Business Account Setup & Optimization
  • Free Social Media Channels Setup (Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn).
  • Free Citation Profiles Creation & Optimization on 5 Local Directories (e.g. Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc…)

Amine Rahal, founder and CEO of the company, adds, “Giving back to the community is one of the core principles of our agency, and right now there is a huge need to help thousands of refugees settle and make a new life for themselves in this country. These people represent a tremendous workforce for our country if we give them the chance. Also, at the end of the day, we’re all newcomers. Whether you’re a 5th generation Scottish, 3rd generation Italian or 1st generation Syrian, it’s pretty much the same thing. This is the new world and opportunities are available for everyone. The inspiration behind our company’s name, Little Dragon, comes from Bruce Lee, who in China was called Xiao Long (Mandarin for “Little Dragon”). During a famous interview he did in the seventies, Bruce Lee was asked:  do you consider yourself Chinese or American, to which he answered: I consider myself a human being. Under the skies, under the heavens, we are but one family. It just so happens that we look different.”

For more details on the Little Dragon Media’s “Refugee to Entrepreneur” program, email [email protected], or contact Penny MacGillivray, 647-348-4995, [email protected]

[“source-smallbiztrends”]