10 Lessons from Dr. Seuss on being an Entrepreneur


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A fun, anecdotal journal about what it means to be an entrepreneur, as seen through that master teacher of life’s lessons, Dr. Seuss

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10 Lessons from Dr. Seuss on being an Entrepreneur

  1. 1. 10 Lessons from Dr. Seuss on being an Entrepreneur Remco Marcelis  
  2. 2. I recently decided to start my own business as a virtual CFO. I’m a voracious reader and as part of launching my business I was researching what it meant to be an Entrepreneur. Funnily, despite all my formal business education, and after reading lots about Lean Startups, it was while reading Dr Seuss books to my 3 year old daughter one night that some lightbulbs came on. With some further serious research (aka reading more Dr Seuss to my daughter), here are 10 lessons we can learn from Dr Seuss about being an Entrepreneur … Preface   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   2   Preface  
  3. 3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Be the Fix-it-Up Chappie Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose A most useless place, the Waiting Place. There's nothing, no, NOTHING, that's higher than me! Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   3   Contents   Everything stinks until it’s finished Do you like Green Eggs and Ham? Bang ups and hang-ups can happen to you. 8 9 10
  4. 4. Entrepreneurs are different People that are different and buck the trend will cop a lot of crap along the way. Entrepreneurs need to be relentless in their self-belief for themselves, their vision and their business. They need to have enough ego to believe in what they’re doing but not so much that they believe they know it all. They hire people that are smarter than them, and reach out to mentors to learn from. Sure they’ll make mistakes along the way but mistakes don’t equal failure unless they choose to make it so. 1.  Why  Fit  In  When  You  Were  Born  to  Stand  Out?   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   4  
  5. 5. “If you start using a specific line style, title color, or image frame, stick with it.” ABRAHAM LINCOLN Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc tortor dolor, tempu pellentesque ligula sed, dictum accumsan felis. Aliquam rutrum enim ut velit sagittis, accumsan mattis sem dignissim.   2.  Be  the  Fix-­‐it-­‐Up  Chappie   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   5   - The Sneetches, and Other Stories  
  6. 6. …  Be  the  Fix-­‐it-­‐Up  Chappie   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   6   In the book The Sneetches, a "fix-it-up chappie" named Sylvester McMonkey McBean offers the Sneetches without stars the chance to use his Star-On machine, for just $3. The original star-bellied Sneetches, however, weren’t very happy about this as they lost their special status. Luckily, McBean had a solution for them too with his Star-Off machine that removed stars ... for only $10! The Sneetches eventually grew to accept each other which is great , and along the way McBean made a whole pile of money. Entrepreneurs are good at spotting opportunities They recognise where people have problems and turn them into delighted customers that are willing to pay for simple solutions. Truly great ideas are those that people go … but that’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that. Entrepreneurs See. Think. Do.    Some&mes  the  ques&ons   are  complicated  and  the   answers  are  simple     –  Dr  Seuss   “   - The Sneetches, and Other Stories  
  7. 7. Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   7   Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. –  The  Lorax  
  8. 8. 3.  Someone  like  you  cares  a  whole  awful  lot   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   8   Entrepreneurs are passionate While the saying “follow your passion” has become a cliché it nevertheless remains true. Passion for the vision is what starts most entrepreneurial businesses. It’s the charismatic quality that lets entrepreneurs attract the first people to the team, the first customers to try the product from an unknown business, and money from investors. This sometimes obsessive passion is what drives entrepreneurs 24/7 and continues to be the fuel that fills the business engine. And it’s the extra caffeine kick entrepreneurs draw on when times get tough. - The Lorax  
  9. 9. 4.    The  More  You  Learn,  the  More  places  You’ll  Go   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   9   Entrepreneurs keep learning All entrepreneurs, and I count myself amongst them, are voracious readers and learners. They consume knowledge like other people consume food. Unlike those with a more academic bent though, entrepreneurs know when they’ve read enough. They avoid analysis paralysis by knowing that having 80% of the information, and acting on it is better than striving to artificially seek full information. They Read enough. Internalise. And then Get Out Of The Building to test it in the real world. Remember the best form of market research is to actually try and sell something. - I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!  
  10. 10. 5.  Oh,  The  Places  You’ll  Go   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   10   You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
  11. 11. 5.  Oh,  The  Places  You’ll  Go!   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   11   Entrepreneurs Launch and Adapt Entrepreneurs have the passion, they research, they find their feet (their own and the team) and then they set their (first) plan of attack. Gone are the 3 months it takes to build a 40 page business plan. Steve Blank, who has been called the father of the Lean Startup movement, defines a startup as a temporary organisation formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Entrepreneurs these days launch off a 1- page business model canvas or a 15-slide pitch deck as their starting plan. As the saying goes “if you fail to plan, you fail to plan”. Good entrepreneurs know and accept that whatever plan they first come up with, its only the first of many. They Plan. Try. Learn. Adapt. Repeat.    A  startup  is  a  temporary   organisa&on  formed  to  search   for  a  repeatable  and  scalable   business  model.     –  Steve  Blank   “   - Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  
  12. 12. 6.  A  most  useless  place,  the  WaiYng  Place   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   12   Entrepreneurs don’t wait ... ever Anyone can come up with ideas … on a good day, I have a million of them before breakfast. Others do great research. One of the most commonly described attributes of successful entrepreneurs is that don’t wait for anyone, anytime. Their uncompromising energy and drive carries the whole business forward. And they certainly don’t wait for a plane to go, or the phone to ring, or wait for a Yes or a No, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting. NO! That's not for you! - Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  
  13. 13. 7.  There's  nothing  that's  higher  than  me     Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   13   Entrepreneurs look forward, not sideways King Yertle was obsessed with being the best, the biggest, the highest in the land. It can be easy to get distracted by what your competition is doing. Entrepreneurs are aware of their competitors and what they’re doing, but recognize that when they’re watching competitors it takes their eye off the main game – it’s looking sideways around them, rather than looking forward along the path they’re following. - Yertle the Turtle, and Other Stories  
  14. 14. Entrepreneurs obsess Entrepreneurs are obsessed with quality (entrepreneurial obsessive is a recurring theme isn't it?!). They care an awful lot about their product, but especially by the customer experience. And this is a good thing, and no time more so than when you’re just starting out. Your product may not be perfect, but beta customers get this. Commitment to listening and responding to customers wins you loyal customers who become your best referrers. 8.  Everything  SYnks  UnYl  It’s  Finished  
  15. 15. 9.  Do  You  Like  Green  Eggs  and  Ham?   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   15  
  16. 16. …  Do  You  Like  Green  Eggs  and  Ham?   Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   16   Entrepreneurs don’t take no for an answer In the book Green Eggs and Ham, the character Sam-I- am offers his prospect 14 different ways to eat his green eggs and ham before convincing his prospect to try them. One of the key tasks in the customer discovery part of Eric Reis’ Lean Startup method is about repeatedly testing the message to customers until they find the one that works best. Sam-I-am and other Entrepreneurs are persistent bordering on stubborn-ness – taking A/B testing to another level. This applies when you’re selling your products and services but equally well when you’re capital raising. - Green Eggs and Ham  
  17. 17. 10.  Bang  ups  and  hang-­‐ups  can  happen  to  you     Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship   17   Fail and Learn On his path to inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison has been quoted as saying “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways NOT to make a light bulb”. The point being that startups are a journey of discovery in an unknown area. There will be failure along the way to success, both small and large. Entrepreneurs get that failure is a prerequisite to learning. They fail, learn, don’t dwell and move on. Fail + Learn = #flearn (thanks Pollenizer). And where the lesson is that the business model isn’t working entrepreneurs, being entrepreneurs, pivot to their next iteration and keep moving. . - Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  
  18. 18. 2 Pushing the boundaries 18  Dr.  Seuss  on  Entrepreneurship  
  19. 19. Remco Marcelis Virtual CFO. Entrepreneurial Educator. Remco has been a CFO/COO for innovative technology/cleantech businesses for the last 10 years, preceded by 4 years in private equity and 10 years working with multinational management consulting/IT services. @MarcelisRemco   www.linkedin.com/in/rmarcelis   All images and quotes are from various Dr. Seuss books and are the property of Dr. Seuss Enterprises http://www.seussville.com