I spent the morning at a fancy schmancy event at the St. Regis hosted by the Wall Street Journal called ‘How I Built It’, featuring 5 impressive entrepreneurs who went from nothing to huge enterprises (one of whom invented the French manicure). I went for two reasons: 1. I always enjoy learning from those who’ve already taken the journey or are successfully on it now. And 2. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, was there, and not only do I admire her, but she has a foundation that funds projects by female entrepreneurs. Since I know one such person pretty well who’s seeking funding for a project (cough- kids books- cough), I thought it was worth trying to shake her hand (which I did). (And 3. You can’t beat a free breakfast!)
Aside from noting that of the 5 panelists, all the males were Jewish and both of the females were blond (looks like a good formula for me and my genes), that they all really harped on some things I’m learning in my day-to-day entrepreneur experience. First, trust your instincts and don’t let every one’s opinions sway you. Some even went as far as to say to keep your idea quiet from those close to you for at least a year so that your ego doesn’t get involved and you can plug away and work on it before they can ask you to defend it or add their two cents. Secondly, they all seemed to drive wholeheartedly towards something that motivated and excited them, and that they were willing to ride the roller-coaster of extreme highs and lows to make a reality. Seems obvious, but think to all the ideas that pop into your head and perhaps you start but never finish because you’re not willing to completely throw yourself in.
Interestingly enough, 3 of them, all of whom own multi-national companies, still own 100% of it. It was encouaraging to hear Sara Blakely say she started with $5,000 and aside from a one-time 60 day loan of $50,000 from her grandparents, she’s never taken money from anyone. If you’re familiar with the Spanx brand and their 200+ products, that may amaze you as much as it did me.
No lesson from me here, just thought it might be valuable to hear for other Betwixter entrepreneurs.