What does it take to launch a business? As it turns out, more than just money, time and talent. It takes the right personality. In this week’s Exploradio, entrepreneurship intern Kellie Nock takes a look at the entrepreneurial mindset.
It takes a lot to be an entrepreneur these days. So, what is the recipe for a successful startup?
“Things like resilience and grit, and ability to learn, desire to learn. And just natural personality and flair to get out there to get customers,” says Audrey Wallace, one of the founders of Komae, a babysitting app that helps parents swap sits with each other. Wallace and her co-founder Amy Husted ran a babysitting co-op before launching Komae.
It means “village” in Greek, and that’s just the kind of community that Wallace and Husted are trying to create. A village where friends can help one another, and get help in return.
The idea for a business came about when Wallace offered to babysit for Husted, who was still dealing with postpartum depression. Husted had earlier experience with entrepreneurship when she was selling cakes and cake pops out of her home.
“I didn’t define it that way. I was just running a side-hustle, and I think that a lot of women say that ... whether it’s multi-level marketing, or a craft that they’re selling on Etsy. But it wasn’t until I got into Komae and started networking in the area that I was like ‘Oh! I guess I’m an entrepreneur!’”
So what sets Wallace and Husted apart? Maybe it’s their ability to find a new solution to an old problem, and put it into action.
Courtney Gras is a startup founder and author of "Entrepreneur is a Verb." She describes it this way.
“An entrepreneur is like comparing a cook to a chef,”
A cook follows a recipe; a chef creates it, she says.
Gras says that entrepreneurship requires creative thinking—thinking in a different way than we’re taught.
“Basically the opposite of an entrepreneur mindset is how our school system is set up.”
Gras says our education system is still stuck in the “industrial age” in that it teaches students to be workers rather than creators.
“The entrepreneurship mindset is more: There is no guidebook for life, there is no guidebook for how my career should work, there is no guidebook for how my business should work. I’m just going to try things until something clicks.”
Things don’t always click right away, though. Many entrepreneurs have a hard time starting their first business. Shawn Rohlin, the director of Kent State’s Center for Entrepreneurship, says that the struggle is all a part of the process.
“If it succeeds it’s wonderful; if it doesn’t succeed, instead of wallowing in self-pity—thinking hard. ‘What things did I learn? What things can I change?’ and looking for the next idea.”
That’s the one thing that Rohlin says connects all entrepreneurs—tenacity.
“What’s helped me in life is working really hard and trying hard, and not giving up.”
Rohlin says he is inspired by the writings and lessons of Angela Duckworth—author of the novel “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”
“She shows some clear evidence that it’s not technically IQ that really is what drives people to be successful, but it’s really more. I call it ‘stick-to-it-tive-ness’ she calls it ‘grit.’”
Komae’s Amy Husted says it takes faith in yourself.
“You have to have an irrational belief in your idea and what you’re pursuing. Not irrational to the point you’re making bad decisions, but irrational to the point that you can get through the ‘no’s’.”
That was exactly what powered Wallace and Husted when they started Komae. The app was a way for them to solve their problems, and the problems of other parents. The business model is inspired by companies like Uber and AirBnB.
“It’s a sharing economy. It’s kind of like if Uber,rather than a stranger pulling up it was your friend who was like ‘Hop in! And if you just promise to drive me another day, let’s call it even.”
Komae has been successful in its first few years, receiving more than $600,000 in investments from pitch competitions and angel investors. And nothing breeds success like success.
The entrepreneurial mindset means having creativity, passion, tenacity and maybe even a little bit of craziness.