November 24, 2014

Learn Vital Lessons by Entering The Mind of Elite Entrepreneurs

famous entrepreneursJohnson Media CEO, Kevin Johnson, (@BizWizKevin) wrote his book The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs to serve business startups. But his words should have networkers’ ears as well.

When you start a business, you make choices. But how do you know you’re acting as an entrepreneur and developing the unique values of a sustainable business?

Johnson should know. He founded Johnson Media during his sophomore year in Morehouse College in Atlanta. Now, 13 years later, Johnson Media has grown to manage multi-million dollar marketing and communication contracts for many Fortune 100 firms.

I learned about the book after following Johnson’s tips and ideas shared on Twitter. Knowing the value he has brought to the social media world with his observations, I was too happy to finally have those observations in a book format for review.

The book is based from Kevin’s blog yet incorporates new insights. The text is organized into seven subjects:

  • Strategy
  • Education
  • People
  • Finance
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Leadership
  • Motivation

The thesis behind the text is meant to guide young entrepreneurs away from major mistakes and miscues. Take this perspective of what creates a business failure.

A business can fail in two ways: not surviving beyond its start and not reaching its full potential…. Many entrepreneurs lack the motivation to pursue big ideas. I find this mentality prevalent among entrepreneurs who have had some level of monetary success in business that diminishes their willingness to pursue bigger ideas. These entrepreneurs strive to maintain their comfort or have become accustomed to going for low-hanging fruit. As business author Michael Gerber says, Comfort makes cowards of us all.

There are other nuggets, such as reflections on managing ego in business:

When you start your business lose the ego immediately. It’s the main reason that entrepreneurs don’t seek help. An over inflated ego prevents those who ask for help from receiving it.

Another perspective gives a starting point for vetting clients:

1. Be skeptical of a client who seems not to know what is needed or who constantly makes changes. For example, if you have a web or graphic design company, explain clearly your creative process and the time needed for the project.
2. Be careful if a client is not willing to pay an hourly rate or a piece rate of some kind.
3. Avoid any client who hesitates to sign a well-written agreement. This is a true test of whether a client is worth your time and effort.

Johnson also tempers some misconceptions about starting a business, such as the falsehoods that arise from being your own boss:

The phrase “being your own boss” appeals to those who believe that a domineering boss is a bad thing. They crave the freedom to do what they want when they want. People with this attitude generally make terrible entrepreneurs. As many entrepreneurs will tell you, unless you have strong self-discipline, a demanding boss figure that keeps you on track to success is a great thing. . .In order to be a successful entrepreneur, discipline is a must. There is no escaping it. . . There is no escaping it.

This book complements business books marketed towards African American business owners, like Dante Lee’s Black Business Secrets, as well as books examining a broad workplace influence such as The Experience Effect.

Some situations may read as too specific for general advice, but no suggestion comes across as entirely alien to a budding business. Johnson’s dealing with a bounced check is an example. A mentor taught him how to properly verify if a customer’s check really had sufficient funds behind it. This is a solid note about selecting the right mentor.

Examples like the check incident will raise a “been-there” thought from readers who know how to sustain a business.

The point of books like this is to accelerate the experiences that instruct one’s judgment. Your extrapolation from Johnson’s tips will be as useful as your imagination.

To get the best from it, imagine this book as a fine wine list of what business operations should be like.

3 Comments ▼

Pierre DeBois - Associate Book Editor


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

3 Reactions

  1. I used to think I was an entrepreneur because I owned a business and worked my butt off 12 hours a day. Then I learned an entrepreneur is never a prisoner of his or her business but rather someone who is set free by business. THAT’S when I got serious about creating an online presence to serve me as a 24/7/365 sales rep. It’s changed my business and my life. Now, I’ve got 2 more businesses…NOW, I’m an entrepreneur.

  2. Love the points about losing the ego and discipline. Bingo and bingo. Thanks for this article.

  3. Wow great education. l thought l am an entrepreneur because l own a business. My perspective has changed and will change my business.

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