Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus said: “All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed…finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began.”
I agree with Yunus that you and I were born entrepreneurs. However, this doesn’t mean that I believe everyone should start their own businesses. The personal fortitude it takes to ride the emotional roller coaster; to gamble and betting on yourself that you will beat the odds, and the constant “on-button” that come with starting a company is not encoded into every individual.
We all need to cultivate what our cave-dwelling ancestors had: inventing the way we live our lives.
Only a select group need create and found their work upon the baseline of self-employment.
And so it is with this young entrepreneur that I champion for being a co-owner of a salon at age 24.
Megan Draper started her hair and beauty career before she could drive. As an apprentice she pulled herself up with innovation and hours and hours of learning blended with labor.
Today her Salon, Butterfly Jac is proud to announce they are enjoying their second year as a nominee in Elle Magazine’s top 100 Salons in the Nation. Enjoy this conversation with Megan and learn some of the mindset and work ethics of one of Salt Lake City’s up and coming entrepreneurs.
The hedgehog concept is the ONE thing that can make the difference between loving what you do while making money, and all of the alternatives. Not that those alternatives are necessarily horrible. It’s just all ‘round better to be at the core of your hedgehog.
This is the second of a five-part series on the Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog–how can you, as an entrepreneur, discover what you can be the best in the world at? For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great, by Jim Collins. For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website. While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years. The hedgehog is the intersection of three aspects of your life:
What you can be the best in the world at;
What you are deeply passionate about; and
What drives your economic engine.
You would think that you would know what you can be “best in the world” at, don’t you? That is seldom the case without some work. Imagine trying to look at the back of your neck. Even if you can get it centered in a mirror, it’s backwards! Additionally, your “best” may seem so natural to you that you don’t even recognize it as a strength. Do you have one of those “walking encyclopedia” friends who shrugs his shoulders when you ask him how he always knows the direction for “North?” Maybe you know one of those people who can add four digit numbers in their head or who always knows the “right” question to continue a conversation. Those are people with a genetically-coded ability and they often don’t realize that others don’t have it.
As I’ve worked with clients to discover their “can be best” strengths, we’ve often used a combination of three approaches. When the three all point towards the same strengths, you know you’ve got it right.
First, conduct a brief survey. I’ve worked with several clients to contact friends, mentors, business associates, and customers as part of their discovery process. I ask them to pick ten people who will be honest and answer three questions:
What do you see are some of my greatest strengths? Can you relate a specific example?
What is the greatest contribution I have made to you personally? Again, can you relate a specific example?
What is, in your opinion, my single, most greatest strength if you had to narrow it down to one? Can you give an example that would illustrate your point?
The results from the survey can fill pages, so I’ve worked with some clients on a way to squeeze out the data. They go to http://www.wordle.net/ and create a word cloud. The results are often visually clear. This is a word cloud generated for LynChristian.com
Second, look inside yourself. Start by thinking about what you do naturally that others admire. You are probably on the right track. If you want an outside stimulus for this phase, you can turn to almost everything that Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup Management team has produced that contains the Strength Finder instrument in it. The most recent publication is Strength Finder2.0. Are you a lifelong learner? Maximizer? Strategist? WOO? Read the book, take the survey, and add the answers to what you find out from others.
Third, ask your customers.The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, Chapter 4, has a section on getting customer feedback as part of your marketing. It works for this as well. Often I will send a simple request at the end of a coaching contract that asks my client to “spend a few minutes thinking about the value our coaching brought to you. I am asking you because I believe that you will be candid and objective.” Your customers will tell you what you bring to the table, and that gets added to your other answers about what you can be best in the world at.
You can take the results from these three approaches and triangulate the results. You will find what you can be the best in the world at.
The hedgehog concept, articulated by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, is often the crux of successful business building for an entrepreneur. As a coach, I’ve worked with several clients to help them articulate their hedgehog as a cornerstone of a new business. While it’s a great activity to do with a coach, an energetic entrepreneur can work on discovering and implementing their hedgehog with the help of some accountability partners.
This is the first part of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog. For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great. For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website. While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, the extensions of his concept to small business owners has developed over a number of years. This part will focus on the hedgehog concept as a whole and three decisive benefits that come with the activity.
For Jim Collins, the hedgehog concept “requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the Hedgehog concept).” The three circles make a traditional Venn diagram.
On its face, the concept is easily graspable. Find out what you are passionate about, can be the best at, and make money. The next three pieces in this series will explore the three circles. For right now, we want to explore three reasons why you want to find your hedgehog.
First, your hedgehog is your one thing. Just imagine—no matter what else goes on in your world, you have this thing that you can do in a world class manner, you love doing it, and it makes you money. Circle it, star it, underline it, and tape it to your refrigerator. There is absolutely nothing else than can do all three things.
Second, your hedgehog is the core of your marketing. We will talk more about this in part 4 on making money with your hedgehog. Think of your hedgehog as being your brand—the core that creates evangelists. It becomes an almost no-fail path to sales and marketing.
Third, your hedgehog lasts as long as you do. It’s who you are. It’s built into your DNA as what you can do as best in the world. You can do other things, but few of them will feel as natural and as comfortable as being a hedgehog.
If you answered “yes” to both, you’ll want to read on.
Chances are you are like me and you’ve had a limited perspective on how complex those two things living below your ankles are. For example, did you know that we have about 200 bones in our entire body? And did you know that 25% of these bones are found in your feet (25% of all the muscles and motor nerves in your body are dedicated to your feet as well)?*
Well I do, sort of. Stay with me on this one and you’ll understand.
I thrive on supporting the entrepreneurial spirit. I consider it to be one of the most powerful forces reshaping this country. In my opinion, it is one dynamic that has constantly remained more of an art than a science no matter how many textbooks try to put their arms around it. And, I believe that entrepreneurship was flowing through the veins of this nation’s founding parents.
So over a cup of tea, on a Sunday morning I put down a current copy of Entrepreneur long enough to go wandering around the Big Cartel website. Ever curious to see what some of the artrapreneurs (yes I made that up) were up to, I viewed Susan Peterson’s mini documentary about her company Freshly Picked.
My partner heard the music and came up behind me to see what I was watching. As soon as Freshly Picked footwear for kids came on the screen my partner exclaimed, “Those are perfect. Parents need to be more aware of what they put on their baby’s and children’s feet.”
My partner, Susan McLaughlin, is a Physical Therapist trained in Restorative Exercise™ by Biomechanist turned Entrepreneur, Katy Bowman. Between these two women’s highly educated influence in my life, I have come to better understand the benefits of having a proper fit from a well engineered pair of shoes. I’m learning the type of “toe box” my feet need. I also know how important it is to avoid long days in elevated (heeled) footwear.
I’d like to say that this is the reason I also took time to watch the Big Cartel mini documentary for Zuriick footwear. That would be a lie. The sole, upper, toe box and most of the heels provided by Zuriick shoes are not only extremely well designed from a creative standpoint, they are pretty hip on the wellness scene. And I think it is incredible because there is something out there in the innovative new business scene that is not just about how things look. There is something that is considering the integration of quality, design and wellness. I think it is more than a trend. I think we’ve traveled far away from “what’s good for us” in terms of food, water, shelter and clothing. And today I see a grassroots movement among the free-agent thinkers toward having a more mindful means of living our lives and loving the process.
That’s why I can mash-up my thoughts about shoes, entrepreneur, and health and believe that I’m posting something worth reading. That’s the reason I would promote Freshly Picked, Zurrick and Katy Bowman all in the same blog.
If your knees hurt, if your hips bother you, and if your back aches, you can’t be as creative or entrepreneurial as your potential would allow you to be. You need to pay attention to your feet and listen to what Katy has to say:
Your footwear can absolutely affect the performance of your body… (I’m adding this last part)…and the way you experience your life.
Victoria returned from her conference victorious! She completed every networking connection on her schedule for the event but one (the woman rescheduled for a time after the conference). And she fulfilled other obligations and her role as a facilitator in a manner that exceeded expectations.
She also used a strategy that I am passing on as a useful and wise way to get new business traction. She attended fewer sessions as a participant and increased the time she could budget for prospecting with those at the conference.
Once she returned home Victoria was able to turn her well-honed discipline away from the process of networking for future clients and toward the necessity of earning a living.
The final days of June find her finishing up a report that she has been hired to complete.
The Entrepreneurial two-step in this case is her continual cycle of earning an income at the same time as gaining contracts for future income.
Sometimes we have to focus big chunks of concentrated time on each one separately as Victoria has. Other times we can divide the hours in a day or a week between the two. However, both must be accomplished.
As always Victoria, listen to your own inner “sense” as the final word on deciding what must be done and when and keep working smart.
Few people have come into my practice with as much natural grit and tenacity as she. I’ll let Meg explain how she returned to coaching (see below).
If you are young, ambitous and relentlessly seeking huge dreams, you’ll probably find Meg’s on-going story facinating.
When I worked with Lyn in the past I was empowered to make smart decisions. Lyn’s motivation and energy helped me to finish a $4million project. After I completed that task I needed to recoup and began shifting my focus on my personal life instead of business.
Consequently I stopped working with her because just getting “life coaching” from Lyn didn’t seem necessary.However, I realized not only that I really missed having her support and input but that I could have really used it when making that life-focus shift.
I’m back. I want a partner in life as I take on some of my life-long dreams again and Lyn serves as that person for me. She supports me in a way so I see who I am, what I am great at and when I need to be less hard on myself. I am in a better space when I work with her as my coach both personally and within my business decisions. Her influence assists me to use my strength.
I am excited about my future and my potential. I am truly excited about the ideas that get flushed out when I work with Lyn and I know with no uncertain terms that I will be be successful with her in my corner. When I’m getting coached by Lyn my family, friends and all those around me benefit as well.
I admire people who have the strength to do the hard things when destiny asks them to do so. One such person is Richard Paul Evans. In 1993 he wrote a book titled The Christmas Box. Later this book would simultaneously become the #1 hardcover and paperback book in the nation, and then an Emmy award-winning television movie. However, I’m ahead of the story. Let me give you more context:
Evan’s wrote The Christmas Box as a passionate response to his unexpected and tremendous overload of joy he discovered when he began raising his two children. His idea was that by reading this book, someday in the future his children would be able to hold their children and understanding how he was feeling about them. He also wanted to give them his interpretation of the “true meaning” of Christmas. Originally Richard intended to create two copies of his book to gift to his children. However, his wife read and reacted to the book so powerfully that they determined to self-publish twenty copies and give those out to friends as well as family members.
Within six weeks of giving out the books, the phone began to ring. In fact it rang almost every day from local book stores asking to fulfill orders they had taken from people who had heard about and wanted to get The Christmas Box.
Now I have to admit, I’ve not read the book yet. It is completely the idea of Richard Paul Evan’s ability to do hard things that attracts me. The first example of that courage for me is that he didn’t keep his feelings for his children pent up inside. Nor did he create a watered down version of his feelings captured only in a single note or letter. The hard thing to do at this point was to write an entire book – over 120 pages to be exact. And that is what he did. If you’ve ever written and then published a personal narrative, you know the emotional effort required by this often daunting as well as overwhelming project. My bet is that there are at least, at least 5,000 similar un-published books or ideas for books out there collecting dust in someone’s head or drawer.
So back to Richard’s story – from that self-publishing moment in early 1994 when his phone began ringing, Richard decided to go ahead and publish about 5,000 more books on his own. He coined the term “Guerilla Marketing” and set out to give away each of these books. He determined not to fight a war with big publishers. Instead he went to the smaller markets where the big publishers were not and he got on every radio station he could in each. He put himself out there. And this brings up what glares at me as another example of doing the hard thing:
He invested more money, time and sweat to get the book out to every market he could. Nobody else was going to do it if he didn’t step up himself. I wonder how many nights just before falling asleep in some hotel room on the road did Richard think: “What the heck am I doing?” No matter what played out in his mind, one thing for sure was that he stayed dedicated to his cause.
Eventually Richard came to a pivotal moment where his mental guts were truly tested. He was peddling his wares at a book show in Colorado. He noticed that very few people were visiting his and other booths inside the convention hall. Inspired by curiosity and dedication Richard inquired, “Where are the book buyers?” He learned that they were out in the hall standing in line-after-line to get a free, autographed book from rows and rows of authors who had been specifically invited to do so.
Upon exploring this fact and noticing an empty space on one of the tables between two of these authors, Evans faced another moment of truth. He could go back and waste more time and money standing behind his display and stacks of books, or he could muster all his wits and crash the signing party. He decided to crash. He went back to his booth, grabbed his books and then snuck into the empty space. Just as he did so one of the show’s organizers approached him. Richard could have choked under the pressure. Most of us might have done just that but he didn’t. Quick as a flash he looked up at her and said, “I’m sorry that I’m late.”
The organizer stopped dead in her tracks, blinked and offered to get him some water. Evans spent the day signing and handing out his books.
If there was ever a moment of truth, this was one indeed. Mental grit was required in order to channel what must have been a huge emotional rush into a burst of gutsy intelligence. Kudos Richard! And what pleases me even more is that the next year he returned as the “guest author” to this same show and he was able to trade stories with the very same organizer. She admitted that in that critical moment she was about to throw him out. Then she saw the earnestness in Richard’s eyes and decided to give “this crazy, gutsy guy a chance.”
And so it went for Richard Paul Evans, and so it will be again for thousands of other people like you and I – People who have a dream and enough mental toughness to see those dreams come true
I’ve shared with you what inspires and teaches me from Richard Paul Evan’s personal story. Now I want to know, what impresses you?
If you like this entry you may want to view this related movie.