Anyone can opt to be an entrepreneur, but the real question is who will be successful. At BeamPines we assessed many executives who, even when they were at the general manager level or higher, dreamed of leaving and running their own business. However, when given the opportunity, 90% of these executives opted instead to return to corporate life. Why? Since many of these executives had spouses, mortgages and children ready to enter or already in college, they worried about risk. So given an offer to take a high level job back in corporate with a good compensation package vs. the uncertainty of finding the right entrepreneurial opportunity, they usually chose the former.
The most famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are unique. Brilliant, impatient and impervious to risk, they can’t even wait to graduate college before getting started. One of our clients, Bob Stiller of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, failed out of Syracuse twice before starting Easy Wider which became a big hit with people wanting to roll their own cigarettes. Once he sold this business, he took his profits and moved to Vermont where in 1981 he opened up a small cafe in Waitsfield, roasting and serving coffee. It was so good, demand for the coffee grew and local restaurants and inns asked to be supplied and Green Mountain Coffee came about. Doing very well, in 2006 he came up with the brilliant but risky idea to purchase Keurig, a manufacturer of single cup pods of coffee (the K cup). This gave GMCR a niche which enabled brought the company to new levels of success. The company’s stock is up 200% this year.
However, most executives don’t have the one “great idea.” To become successful entrepreneurs they need to either buy or start a business. They also need luck and the right timing. Here are three paths you might consider.