By Greg Prestemon, CEO
Over the last 20-plus years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing several successful entrepreneurs start their businesses in the St. Charles County EDC Business and Community Partners’ startup facility. Watching smart, passionate people turn their ideas into job-creating businesses has been a great way to spend two decades.
Of course, I’ve also seen a few businesses that never managed to get on solid ground and ended up folding.
What separates successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful entrepreneurs?
It isn’t intelligence, and it isn’t even hard work. It’s rare to come across an unintelligent, lazy entrepreneur. There are a lot of reasons why some founders succeed and some don’t, but here are three of the most common ones I’ve seen:
1. Successful founders are willing to reinvent themselves.
When J. Bloom first became an EDC tenant, the company was a small custom-jewelry-design business. That business model didn’t work the way founder Jennifer Bonacorsi hoped. In 2013 J. Bloom reinvented itself, and business has boomed. The company now has its own location, 14 employees, and 700 “designers” who sell products via home jewelry parties.
Reinventing yourself sounds easy—when you’re telling the story from the perspective of a happy ending. However, the process of reinvention is never easy, and sometimes requires a willingness to swallow your pride and admit what you’re doing isn’t working.
Don’t let pride get in the way of reinvention. If you do, you might stop yourself from achieving something great.
2. Successful founders target a market they know.
The fastest way to succeed as an entrepreneur isn’t to try and find the next billion-dollar idea.
It’s usually going with what you know.
Dave Engineering is a good example of that. Founded by engineer Dave Jones, Dave Engineering is an engineering consulting firm that focuses on multiple industries. Dave began his career working for NASA, so it’s clear that when it comes to engineering, he knows a whole lot. He used that knowledge to found Dave Engineering, and the company joined the EDC in 2013. Today Dave Engineering has 11 employees, and continues to grow. Like J. Bloom, it graduated our program and is now in its own location.
Dave Jones didn’t read about Snapchat and decide the best way to be a successful entrepreneur was to launch the next big social media platform. Instead, he leveraged his education, experience, and network to start a great company doing the things he knows best.
Nine times out of ten, that’s how entrepreneurs succeed.
3. Successful founders realize there’s money to be made in less glamorous businesses.
What’s the next big thing? How should you make your billions?
Drones? Blockchain? Self-driving cars? A self-driving car with a dispatchable drone paid for with blockchain?
Actually, you probably won’t make your billions with any of the buzzword-of-the-moment ideas.
And that’s okay.
There is a lot success to be found in less glamorous industries, as recent EDC graduate The Aspire Software Company learned. Aspire makes software that helps landscape management businesses run their companies. Founded in 2014, Aspire now has 25 employees and continues to grow rapidly.
Landscape management isn’t the sexiest industry, but by focusing on a niche, Aspire has quickly become one of the fastest growing technology startups in our region. Like J.Bloom and Dave Engineering, The Aspire Software Company outgrew the EDC—and we’re really proud of it (and all of these companies) for going on to even bigger and better things.
Success as an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but if you’re willing to reinvent yourself, target a market you know, and understand that some of the best opportunities exist in some of the most overlooked industries, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.