Advice For A Young Entrepreneur - BusinessBlog : McGraw-Hill
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Advice For A Young Entrepreneur

Guest post from Patrick Sweeney, author of What You Aren’t Seeing.

 “How would someone who wanted to be an entrepreneur know if they had what it takes?”

It is question I posed to Herb Greenberg, who founded Caliper, an international management consulting firm, over a half-century ago.

Since his firm measures an individual’s potential and motivation, I was expecting him to share some insights into how you need a burning passion for your new idea, or a calling to make a difference in the world, or, perhaps, an inner drive that is in over-drive.

Instead, smiling, Herb said, “Well, the first thing it takes is money. Usually, more than you think. It really is a question of if you have enough money—at least enough to survive their early, unexpected setbacks and failures, which are going to be inevitable.”

In Herb’’s case, he and his partner borrowed the money from an investment firm, then eventually were able to pay-off their debt.

“You have to be comfortable with owing money,” Herb said. “More than you’ve ever owed before. You have to realize that that is the cost of trying to build your own business. The next question is, How tough are you? Can you survive a beating? Of course, I don’t mean physically. But can your ego survive the difficulties, rejections, and even failures that are bound to happen?”

I asked him, “How long do you need for your money to last?”

“You just never know,” he said, shaking his head. “In our case, we borrowed all we could get. But even with three months free rent, we ran out of it very quickly. All I can say for sure is that you need to have as much money as you have moxie.” He pauses, then added, “I’m not trying to be discouraging. It’s just what you need to enter the game.”

I said to him, “It sounds like a boxer would not enter the ring without expecting to get punched a couple of times?”

“Right. You’’re going to take a beating, financially and emotionally. And the odds are against you. So you have to be willing to enter a situation where you know that you probably will not make it— while you absolutely believe that you will. You’ve got to know somewhere deep inside that you can take it, that you are in it to the end, whenever that may be. You have to know that what you are pursuing is worth it and that it means that much to you. So when you get knocked down, you can pick yourself back up and go at it again. Even though you might lose rounds five and six, a championship bout is 12 rounds. You’’ve got to be willing to lose some of those rounds and still believe that you will win the match. Through all of that, you’’ve got to be willing to bleed.”

“That’’s an interesting phrase,” I said. “You have to bleed?”

“Sure. You’’re going to bleed,” he replied. “If you are on the cutting edge, pursing something that you are passionate about, giving it your all because you see that it could be your future, you’re going to bleed.”

So then, you’’re going to need some Band-Aids.

Patrick Sweeney is a consultant who collaborates with executives on their thought leadership, resulting in books, articles and speeches that position them and their organizations for success. You can reach him at


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