An Entrepreneurial Black Eye

leadership entrepreneurshipEntrepreneurs have a hard enough time without being compared to “Bro CEOs” and their bad behavior.

As this Op-Ed piece points out, the behavior of these self-centered man-boys gives a black eye to all those who toil away to run a decent business, provide jobs and contribute to their community. I get frustrated when the Silicon Valley Dream Boys are labeled entrepreneurs – they are not. They are boys, (yes, 99.9% of them are male), who had an idea, were at the right place at the right time and had the ability to convince other “Bro CEOs” who run the investment firms to give them money – betting that they will bring home the gold.

This is NOT entrepreneurship, this is frat boys gone wild. Entrepreneurship does start out with an idea, (that’s the only piece the Bro-CEOs have in common with real entrepreneurs), but then it evolves into lots of blood, sweat, and tears to execute that idea. There are no parties, no free food and drinks, no lavish vacations and retreats, no extremely obnoxious leadership behavior and almost never any blatant discriminatory behavior. Most entrepreneurs are just working as hard as they can to keep the dream alive, to make their mortgage payment, to make payroll, and furiously trying to navigate all the obstacles in the way of success for a small business.

When it comes to financing, most small businesses do not get investments of millions of dollars, they get small loans in the $100K range. This is just enough to get going, hire a few people, make some marketing moves, and ramp up production or service. Most use every dime they’ve ever saved and count on the generosity of relatives who pretty much never expect to get the money back.

They have to cajole people to work for them because they cannot afford to offer the benefits of large companies. They often give away equity as a promise and hope they can deliver. They compete with the big guys and have to hustle to get anyone to listen to them or take them seriously.

They believe in their dream, not because of the billion-dollar valuation they expect to be theirs someday, but because the product or service they created will provide something better than is out there. These are small dreams that can turn into big realities if done well and only one out of ten will survive by year five.

As the article points out, having an idea is one thing, running a company is something completely different. All entrepreneurs find this out and the small entrepreneurs, (meaning everyone except Bro-CEOs), realize what and who they need to help them grow into a larger enterprise. They know that wasting money, talent and time are not a recipe for success.

So, next time you think of the word “entrepreneur” think of all those hard-working small business owners out there who aren’t getting multi-millions behind them and are building their companies one strategic step at a time. Here’s to all the non-Bro CEOs that make our economy hum and provide 72% of all jobs to Americans.

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