Post from Terri Krivosha, Chair of Maslon's Business & Securities Group
Yesterday I attended commencement at New York University's Wagner School of Public Policy. The event was held at the City Center in Manhattan; a beautiful and old historic venue. In that setting, the commencement speaker, Chelsea Clinton closed her words to the graduates with the following advice: "Start where you are; Have the courage to be second; Because you can, you should." Her words are applicable to entrepreneurs as well.
Start where you are: Entrepreneurs are one of the world's best catalysts for ideas. Beginning with the seed of an idea, entrepreneurs need to take that idea and turn it, like a crystal, to see the best angle for it to shine. And entrepreneurs should not be afraid to make mistakes...if the angle that first reflects light doesn't work, then turn the crystal again; tweak the idea and move on. Ideas grown from personal experience often turn into the best companies.
Have the courage to be second: Don't let ideas in the marketplace scare you from moving forward. Most entrepreneurs have a passion and commitment to their cause. As Guy Kawasaki said, "The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning--to create a product or service that makes the world a better place." Without passion for your idea, it will be hard to succeed. But don't get discouraged by others in the marketplace. It takes courage to start a business. The fields for your ideas are big and wide. Dare to do something that someone else has already begun, but do it better! Having an exemplary team is another way to hone and develop your idea in a way that will help you be successful. Surround yourself with advisors, mentors and team players who will help you move from where you are to where you can go. The saying that "no person is an island" resonates in the world of entrepreneurship. Investors invest in teams, because ideas can change.
Because you can, you should: How many times have you heard others look at a new company or product and say "now why didn't I think of that?" Michelangelo said, "The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." Strive for unimaginable heights as you develop your business. Have your team help ground you, but don't get discouraged in your journey. It likely won't be a straight line, but rather myriad lines of different trajectories which will enable you to achieve your goals. Good luck!