by Sabrina Hu, MBA Candidate, 2011, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business
Last summer I found myself in need of summer plans as I had dismissed numerous internship opportunities as being boring and too comfortable.
As I was catching up with a good friend from college who also lives in the DC area, I found myself very intrigued by the progress he had made on his start up idea. He had first presented me with this idea three years ago so it was really great to see the idea evolve. Not only had he won a category in the Williams James business case competition, but he had also been meeting with all the right people seeking advice on how to proceed. It seemed like things were moving forward and on the right track. The next phase for the business was taking the step to bring the idea to life either through partnerships or investors. Having just completed my first year of business school, I pitched the idea of working with my friend as his summer intern to help him continue his momentum and for me to test out my newly learned skills.
My plan for an interesting summer quickly stalled. It wasn’t that my friend didn’t have the skills or passion or talent to move forward. Simply put, he just was not ready to move forward. He had spent numerous hours on smoothing out the business idea but overlooked his own mental preparation of launching his idea. Until he was ready to move forward, there wasn’t much to do. Like my friend, many entrepreneurs overlook the mental preparation that is required to actually become an entrepreneur.
I recently attended the Angel Venture Forum.
Fittingly, the first session of the day was titled: ”How to Mentally and Financially Prepare to be an Entrepreneur”
Taking money from someone else is a big responsibility. Is your company ready to do it? Visionary founders are eccentric. This session will help entrepreneurs understand their eccentricity and the eccentricity of the investors who invest in them.
One of the speakers of this session was John D. Gartner, author of the book, “Hypomanic Edge”. In his book and during the presentation, Dr. Gartner suggests that successful entrepreneurs of history like Andrew Carnegie and Christopher Columbus, may have had shades of hypomania, which was a source of their innovation, passion and eccentrics. As Dr. Gartner listed out symptoms of the “hypomanic edge” (very productive, innovative, dreamer, not an executer) a strong majority of the room nodded their heads in unison recognizing those characteristics in themselves.
Along with his co-presenter, Dr. Gartner emphasized that the first step to being mentally prepared to be an entrepreneur was becoming an individual who was willing and open to working with others. This was a critical junction for both the entrepreneur and the business idea because it was not until the entrepreneur was ready to relinquish some control would there be a true opportunity to develop the idea. Dr. Gartner went on to say that in every successful start up team, there were three archetypes: the dreamer, the schemer, the reamer. Each team needed an individual responsible for dreaming the big dreams, another individual to create and execute the dream and a third individual to keep everyone accountable. For those individuals with hypomanic tendencies, surrounding oneself with the right people was a critical point to the success of a start up idea.
Finally Dr. Gartner gave some tips to creating some calmness and space for those who dream big.
- Commit to Sanity. Be self aware to cultivate self-control.
- Slow Down. Take a breath. You have time for one breath.
- Remember that born entrepreneurs are not born managers. Surround yourself with the right people
As for my friend, he finally was ready to give up control to execute his vision for his start up and is moving forward again in this quest to make his idea a reality.
Want to learn more about the Angel Venture Forum? Email Sabrina Hu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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