Monday, June 15, 2009

New era for entrepreneurs?

I blogged earlier about the uncertain future facing a lot of graduates this year; jobs are tight.

Listening to an interview recently between Colin Cowherd of ESPN® and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about entrepreneurship got me thinking back to my first days in business.

Cuban thinks we may have a new era of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship isn’t exclusive to the United States, but we’re as good at it, if not better, than anyone else. Every time the economy has gone down, Cuban says, entrepreneurs have built it back up bigger than ever.

I agree.

The Merriam-Webster® dictionary describes an entrepreneur as “One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” I’ll get back to a keyword in that description in a moment.

Cuban made the point that new graduates choosing to start their own businesses better get used to continuing to live like college students! He believes there is some young person out there who will come up with the next big thing. People believe that if Bill Gates and Michael Dell (or even the Video Professor) could do it, they can to.

Despite the ads you see about “being your own boss,” showing pictures of people lounging around swimming pools enjoying the good life, starting a business from nothing is hard work. There is no time to spend around swimming pools, and after long days, get used to sleepless nights. A lot of them.

Okay, back to the description of entrepreneurship. Look at the word “Risk.” There are no guarantees of success. The huge majority of start-up businesses fail in the first year.

We here at Video Professor are in our 22nd year of business. I wouldn’t change one bit of the experience. Were there tough times? Absolutely, but great times as well.

I started out as a contractor when I moved to Colorado. Then, I began manufacturing PC-clone computers. Customers came back to us asking for an alternative to complicated operating manuals. There weren’t any. So we created our own. The solution to a problem became my business.

What I did learn is that if you keep on showing up, surround yourself with talented and dedicated people and, oh yes, put any thoughts of hanging around the swimming pool out of your head, you can succeed. Just about every day other people will tell you to give it up, that you can’t go on. Don’t listen to them. Listen to yourself.

So, for you kids with diplomas and resumes in hand, but the hiring doors shut, take stock of yourself. What are you good at? Is there a service you can provide to others that is unique, special and affordable? Are you willing to start from your kitchen table or your parents’ kitchen table? Are you willing to eat a lot of peanut butter knowing the steak might come later?

If so, go for it. This is a good time to become an entrepreneur. I look forward to “trying YOUR product.”


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at