News & Expert Interviews
Monday, August 13, 2007
André Taylor: Entrepreneur Coach
Entrepreneur coach, André Taylor is a speaker, advisor, and author on the topic of entrepreneurship. For more than 20 years, he has helped build companies into industry leaders.
1) You've come up with the phrase "Natural Entrepreneur." What are the core elements of a "natural entrepreneur"?
I believe at its core, entrepreneurship is about
The good news is that all of the dialogue about entrepreneurship over the last twenty years has debunked the myth that individuals with the entrepreneur "gene" are rare. There are many more people out there who now know they have the ability to create businesses. They just need information, belief, courage, skill, and determination. The natural entrepreneur concept is simply this: We have natural skills, abilities, and instincts that translate into the key needs of the marketplace and into what is needed in a business. I work with individuals and organizations to pinpoint these strengths and turn them into economic assets.
2) Is there a basic skill set that successful entrepreneurs share? Or does it depend on the industry or idea?
I think the main thing that successful entrepreneurs have is the ability to deal with the ambiguity that surfaces, and then remains a permanent part of building an enterprise around their passion. No matter how long you are in business, whether you start with no money, or tons of money you are never quite sure day-to-day whether you are standing still or advancing.
In my view an entrepreneur must:
- Identify positive and encouraging information - all the time.
- Be a learner with the capacity to interpret and digest lessons from business situations - sometimes very painful lessons.
- Be demanding, yet patient - mainly with yourself.
- Interpret failure differently than most - yet expect success.
- See entrepreneurship as a better choice, something that you're committed to because you're focused on making a clear contribution to the marketplace or world - not approach your business as something to merely "try out."
While most entrepreneurs start out excited about the opportunities with their new enterprises, many entrepreneurs wind up in difficult places with their business. Soon after they get their business going they feel:
- Overworked and a slave to their clients and employees.
- Like they're trying to do everything for everyone.
- Like workaholics and micro-managers, some suffering health problems.
- Like they've developed a business that is at odds with their real goals and abilities.
- Like they need to focus on a small part of the business out of necessity, rather than the big picture.
- "What do I really love to do?"
- "How do my talents and abilities translate into business success?"
- "What do I never want to do?"
4) Is it enough to "do what you love, and the money will follow," as the old saying goes? Can you do so, and fail?
There are many people out there "doing what they love" and they're broke. Doing what you love is a key component of the success formula but I would put it another way. Entrepreneurship is doing what is necessary so that you can put yourself in a position to do what you love. To me, it is this understanding which creates "the soul of a successful enterprise."
5) Many entrepreneurs eschew business plans, as ideas and markets tend to change quickly, and flexibility is one of their greatest assets against larger competitors. Is this the right move, or a dangerous one?
I believe emphasis on the textbook business planning process is one of the worst things to happen to entrepreneurial education. It's great for companies seeking rapid growth or with an infusion of venture capital but that's not the typical entrepreneurial experience. Most entrepreneurs do not need to spend months trying to write the perfect plan.
I favor a "living plan," approach - something the entrepreneur can carry around in their pocket or PDA reflecting the business agenda, answers to key questions typically addressed in a business plan, and key metrics. I think this document has to be streamlined so the founder understands it and can work with it as a tool. I believe this document is something that should be adjusted weekly or monthly.Entrepreneurs need to plan, but it has to be incorporated in their day-to-day activities and adjusted, adjusted, and adjusted.
6) One of your insights is that "Success Is Natural. Failure Is Hard Work." Can you elaborate on that, with an example?
This statement probably sounds very new age, but I have found that many entrepreneurs, including myself, make things entirely too difficult and complicated. There are usually great business development opportunities staring you in the face, but we are conditioned to look away, misinterpret, or not respond appropriately - or at all.
When I got off the telephone I had a thought. It was this: "I'll bet they're going to see a Broadway show. It might even be The Color Purple - a show where a friend of mine is one of the principal cast members. I could ask my friend to invite her backstage, autograph her program, and she could meet some of the other cast members." For some reason, I dismissed the thought, and never came back to it.Yesterday I called my contact to see how our deal was progressing and how her holiday in New York was. She said: "I was very busy during the day, but we had a wonderful time every evening. My dad especially loved seeing The Color Purple." I then explained: "I coulda, shoulda, blah, blah, blah."
My instincts told me exactly what to do for my client but I didn't listen. Success would have been showing my client a great time. That was easy. I knew how to do it. The opportunity was delivered to me on a silver platter. I failed at that and now I'm trying to make up for it.There are tons of examples like this in business every day. Companies market like crazy, but don't return telephone calls. Publishers destroy books that could help educate people in poor neighborhoods and entire countries. Employees are not given the latitude to do something extra and creative for clients because companies adhere to alienating policies and procedures. There are hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities that naturally present themselves to us daily to become more successful. I believe our biggest challenge is seeing it and having the will to act on it.
7) There's a meme now about working "smart instead of hard". Can you avoid hard work and be successful as an entrepreneur?
You cannot avoid hard work for long and be a successful entrepreneur. There are some entrepreneurs that hit the market just right and they do well. An example might be here in New York, during the hot summer, we have entrepreneurs who buy cases of water, make the bottles ice cold, and then sell them to drivers stopped at red lights. That's smart and involves a bit of hard work as well. During the record heat this summer these guys did really well. But the moment well-financed and better competition rolls in or the process is banned by the city these entrepreneurs are out of business. To keep the business going they're going to need to work smart and hard. They're going to need alternative strategies and a whole new effort to get to market.
Now we know the rest of the story. A few months ago Coca-Cola agreed to buy the company Bikoff founded in a $4.1 billion deal. In my book that's some smart water, and the ultimate example of succeeding naturally.
» Permanent link to André Taylor: Entrepreneur Coach
Links to this post from other blogs and websites: << Home
The Sideroad brings you practical advice, straight from the experts, through expert articles and interviews. Learn more about The Sideroad.
Expert Interviews Archives
» A Beginner's Guide to Exporting Products
» André Taylor: Entrepreneur Coach
» Exercising at Home
» Losing Body Fat
» Public Speaking Anxiety
» Sustainable Furniture
» Tips for Active Listening
» What is WomanSavers.com?
» What is a Marketing Coach?
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]
Find an ExpertFind an Expert by Topic
Find an Expert by Name