“Everything you know is wrong” is a popular phrase and one that applies to starting a business.
I was listening to two highly successful entrepreneurs explain what it takes to be a winner in business. They were speaking to a class of aspiring entrepreneurs at the Los Angeles chapter of Founder Institute, a four-month mentoring program that started last night.
Most of us wish we were wealthy. Having your own business seems like a good road to riches. It might be, but if making the big bucks is why you want to start a business, think again.
“If you are just doing it for the money it will fail. You need to love your business, and if you don’t you won’t have much of a chance,” he said.
It also seems logical that a winner in training would study the champions of business.
That would also be wrong.
“Study the failures,” said serial entrepreneur Stephen Meade. “You will learn more studying failure than you will success. Embrace failure and learn why they made mistakes.”
He added this gem: “Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.”
These two mentors are part of a long list of speakers that students of Founder Institute will see present in the weeks to come. The classes are every Monday and students are told to expect to work about 15 hours a week on course instructions.
The institute was created by Adeo Ressi, who is helping to launch hundreds of companies in 17 cities worldwide. On Sunday night in Los Angeles, for orientation, Ressi was practically bribing aspirants (who pay $900 to attend the course) to drop out and take their money back. Six of the 40 enrollees weren’t back the next day.
Each student has a business idea and forms into teams for the course. For a variety of reasons (failures) a team member can be asked to leave and “re-enroll” another time when they are ready.
Over the course of many classes in various cities Ressi has cut many from the program. It sounds brutal. In fact, as he told those stories Monday night it sounded to me like some got cut based on the failures of others.
I asked Ressi if that was fair and about his seemingly inhumane approach to slaughtering lambs. He responded that each cut has a valuable lesson for team members.
Ken Rutkowski, who leads the Los Angeles chapter of Founder Institute explained it this way, “In business, no one is going to present you with champagne and roses.”
Ressi took the stage first to explain several steps to success in business. It starts with having passion for your business. Investigate what you’re doing and also take “quiet time” to reflect on your commitment. If excited, move forward. If not, find the exit. Share your idea with friends. If they think it sucks, it probably does.
But here is where Ressi and Joyal have differences. Joyal was told time and again that his idea would not work.
“People will try to discourage you. Everyone told me that 1-800 Dentist would not work,” he said. “You have to figure out how to make it work.”
As to what you need in your quiver, Joyal pulled out these arrows: Be persistent, act boldly, be determined, be naïve and set goals.
“I was too stupid to know I could fail,” said Joyal. “Expect to fail repeatedly. It’s going to be hard, frustrating and confusing.”
Meade, during his presentation, showed a slide of a flock of eagles.
“The hardest thing you will do is getting eagles to flock,” said Meade. “It’s called a convocation,” which in the literal sense means a group of people formally assembled for a special purpose. That’s what it’s all about.
Meade encouraged students to envision the mountaintop and set your sights on the summit.
“Don’t quit!” he said. “Stay focused.”
“Interruptions will kill your business,” he said. “Success will come if you believe in it. You have to have a vision, a goal and the ability to articulate that. Figure out your own path to victory.”
Does this current crop of entrepreneurs in training have what it takes? I’ll keep you posted down the road. I wish them good luck and Godspeed.