Entrepreneurship Attitude – A Necessary Component for Success

Mar 28, 2023

Spotify recently offered “Back in the High Life Again” by Steve Winwood as a song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adw772km7PQ) when I had some windshield time between meetings.  It had been a long time since I had thought of Steve Winwood, an artist I first followed in Traffic, or heard the song.  I listened to the tune once and then played it again, because the lyrics resonated with me based on the people I have met and the stories heard in 2022 and 2023 from the entrepreneurial community.

Here are the lyrics from the first three stanzas from the song:

It used to seem to me that my life ran on too fast
And I had to take it slowly just to make the good parts last
But when you’re born to run it’s so hard to just slow down
So don’t be surprised to see me back in that bright part of town

I’ll be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
I’ll be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in

And I’ll drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me and on I’ll be a sight to see
Back in the high life again

Entrepreneurs are by nature a “glass half-full” demographic.  They traditionally believe if they have the time, work hard enough, and sufficient resources that the end result of their efforts will be a positive outcome.  This attitude of confidence and resiliency is contagious and a necessary component of entrepreneurial achievement.

The COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain product delays, high fuel costs, labor shortages, inflation, and homeless populations and crime in the metropolitan areas of Seattle & Portland have all delivered an unprecedented successive series of body blows to small business owners in the Pacific Northwest.  This barrage of pain, not of their own creation, unfortunately knocked out or critically damaged the dreams & business models of numerous entrepreneurs.  Others have weathered the storm, but are battered and bruised from the experience.

However, what has impressed me is that a significant portion of the impacted population has not given up or abandoned their desire to be business owners.  Some who were forced to close businesses, have opened new businesses using their knowledge, experience, and business acumen with a 2.0 business plan that addresses prior weaknesses and accentuates previously identified strengths.  Others have pivoted their business models or set out for new frontiers in entirely new marketplaces of opportunity.

As a person with entrepreneurship in my DNA, I can relate to the decisions to both evolve a business model and try something entirely new.  I can also identify with the attitude that “quitting is not an option”.

In the Great Recession (https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/great-recession-of-200709) seven years into my ownership of the firm, IBA went from fifteen business brokers serving the small business community of Washington, Oregon, & Idaho to six.  My father, a valued mentor who had weathered more recessions than I as an entrepreneur at the time, encouraged me to take my high executive management and sales skillset into the corporate world as a safe harbor for my family during the economic storm to insure stable income.  He was nervous about the stress on and financial well-being of his grandchildren and my wife.  Personally, having no fear of the unknown and confidence in my abilities & business acumen (Plus an amazing supportive, life partner in my wife), I diversified my risk maintaining management of IBA, facilitating a larger allocation of firm transactions personally, and got involved in a dot-com startup in the real estate space.  When the economic storm clouds receded, IBA was stronger in terms of market share and business model than it had been previously. Today, we have an historically high number of offices and brokers under my management.

Execution of the dot-com was superior with a team of talented people each contributing significantly to the business model, but unfortunately the business did not get to critical velocity before a market dynamic change doomed it. Such is the life of an entrepreneur in the tech space.  The experience also confirmed to me that you often learn more from failure than success.

Am I special as an entrepreneur?  No, I am simply one of many people who were willing to pursue a business vision with effort, aptitude, and resources coming out of the Great Recession.  Fortunes were made by many people willing to take risk and execute.  Companies that skyrocketed in achievement and profitability in the 2010’s included old economy businesses like Domino’s, selling pizza, and United Rentals, renting construction equipment and new technologies like Netflix and Dexcom ( https://investorplace.com/2019/12/10-best-growth-stocks-2010s/).  Who will be the big winners in your local marketplace and nationally in the next ten years?  Only time will tell.  Are you someone who will lace up your sneakers and get into the game or a fan who will watch others drain three point shots and dunk on others.

To quote Steve Winwood,

“But when you’re born to run it’s so hard to just slow down

So don’t be surprised to see me back in that bright part of town

I’ll be back in the high life again

All the doors I closed one time will open up again”

I look forward to seeing the entrepreneurship garden that blooms in the back half of this decade.  I suspect many of the entrepreneurs negatively impacted in the last couple of years will not slow down and will return to sunshine and the high life again.  I also suspect there will be a number of people who over a beer talk about what could of or should have happened to them as entrepreneurs, if A, B, & C had not happened.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, legal, and accounting communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family-owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.