Full Text of Top 10 Mistakes Made by Entrepreneurs – Part of 2010 Conference on Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: MP3 – Top 10 Mistakes Made by Entrepreneurs
Interviewer: So, the first question why did you become an entrepreneur? And anybody can go first, Jay?
Jay: Well, I started my entrepreneur journey unconventionally, I actually dropped out of high school when I was 16, so. Actually what caused me to become an entrepreneur was a little bit different. My family was going through little hardships, I was trying to go ahead and help out. And basically, try it out my first job, and only job was trying out for McDonald’s and, they rejected me. So, I realized, hey, there’s something called the internet and looked at what was going on. I mean just the euphoria of it and fell in love with the whole online advertising space. And the beauty of the internet is you don’t need the stigma that’s attached to kind of business as it was probably 50 years ago. I mean, you can be a 16 year old in a bedroom, and start a business that two years later, you can sell for $40 million. And that’s probably, was impossible 50 years ago, so, partly survival helped me become an entrepreneur, but on top of that, I love building stuff out of nothing. So, I’m passionate about it, as long as you have it in your DNA, you can be successful.
Carol: So I became an entrepreneur pretty much out of necessity. I had been working at a public accounting firm. Been passed over for partnership two times and I could see that the third was coming up. And the only reason was because I was a woman. And at this point, there were zero women in the partnership across the world. And that just wasn’t okay with me. But I had butted my head up against the glass ceiling enough times. And at this point, had enough visibility across the whole firm to know that I wasn’t personally going to be able to change this organization from the inside. So I left and turned around, and offered them my services for basically the exact same thing that they would have had if I had made partner within their structure. And asked them to pay me three times as much. They agreed which was the amazing part. Provided me an office and let me keep my administrative assistant for the first six months and I was totally billable from the very, very first day. And that grew into an organization that had employees across the world. And then, kind of once you get the bug, it just kind of starts taking over. And so it’s sort of like, well, there’s a problem here. I can solve it by doing this. And there’s a problem there, and I can go solve that by doing this. And I love it.
Entrepreneur3: Yeah. So I guess the best answer that I can give is that I didn’t decide to become an entrepreneur. And I mean that in two ways. One, I’m actually not quite an entrepreneur. I don’t really deserve to be called an entrepreneur, unlike all the other people up here. I’ve always sort of helped entrepreneurs. I joined the LinkedIn and Facebook before we raised venture funding. Before the companies were built and so on. So, very, very, very early in those companies.
Entrepreneur3: But, surely but always sort of liked helping entrepreneurs. They used to call that being a venture capitalist, but that means something else today, I guess. So the second way in which I mean that, and just really amplifying what Carol just spoke to is, I think a lot of the time people who end up being entrepreneurs, don’t really exactly decide to become entrepreneurs. It’s not like being an accountant, where you say, you know, I’m going to go out and take a test, and get a license, and go become an accountant. I’m going to go to entrepreneur school, and become an entrepreneur. It’s a little bit more organic than that, a lot of the time in my experience. And it’s something that almost happens to you, or that you get the bug for, like you said, usually because something’s broken that you want to fix. Or because something doesn’t exist that you think should exist. And you just decide, I’m going to do it. And that can take lots of different forms. But I think it’s a more organic process than a lot of other so-called career paths.
Entrepreneur4: I actually never aspired to become an entrepreneur. I was working as a research scientist, and I thoroughly enjoyed that, so I never aspired to become an entrepreneur, working as a manager, or working in business in the first place. But the thing that made an impact on me was that, I was actually reading the specification for Netscape 2.0 some years ago, somebody may remember the browser Netscape. But I was reading the whole night, and I was really taken by this, and it had an enormous impact on me. So the next day, I actually quit my job, and started my first company. And I had no idea what kind of business idea I was going to pursue, I really didn’t have so much of a plan, but it was more this incredible passion I felt for internet. I could just sense that internet was going to be really, really big. And I felt this was too big thing — too big of a thing to walk away from, so that’s actually why I started.
Interviewer: So in the life of an entrepreneur, now you’ve been all living the life of an entrepreneur, what is it you like about the life of an entrepreneur, and what is it you don’t like about the path that you have chosen? Anybody, or you can just go to in any order you like.
Entrepreneur1: I guess what I love about it is – yeah it probably goes both ways. I love creating something out of nothing, and seeing that impact, it’s almost like you can see it nurture. And you can see the positive result as quick as you can, kind of make it, make it happen. The downside of being an entrepreneur is that it’s not as posh and stable as a typical company where you have enough things in place, where you don’t have to worry about the revenue. You don’t have to worry about profitability. You don’t have to worry about the individual things, so you end up losing a few hairs almost every day. So, part of being in a startup is, you have your good days and you have your bad days, but, you know, you fall down and you get up, and you keep going.
Carol: So in the corporate world, I used to be called a workaholic. And I’m a pretty passionate person and when I’m on a project, or working on trying to get something done, I pretty much stay focused on that. And that used to be considered a bad thing. And when I became an entrepreneur, everybody just started saying, oh, but she’s an entrepreneur, it’s okay. And so, I suddenly became socially acceptable, about the fact that my work life and my personal life had a very, very blurry line.