Think you need to live in Silicon Valley or NYC with an MBA to be a successful entrepreneur? As it turns out, simply finding a place to call home, along with a smart strategy, is often all it takes.
Students aren’t the only ones learning lessons from summer road trips — one professor just finished an enlightening journey of his own.
As Fast Company reports, Mike Glauser, executive Director of the Clark Center for Entrepreneurship at Utah State University, recently completed a cross-country bike ride to learn more about the realities of entrepreneurship in America. With funds raised on Kickstarter, he and a team cycled from Florence, OR to Yorktown, VA and interviewed 100 entrepreneurs in business-friendly smaller cities like Sister, OR and Chester, IL.
What he found revealed some interesting things about those on the forefront of the shift to entrepreneurship. Here are some of the big lessons you can take away from his findings (Click here to tweet this list.):
1. You need a mission
Money is great, and of course entrepreneurs want to make as much of it as they can, but the most successful (and happiest) aren’t motivated by money alone; they add a sense of mission to their business plan.
Your takeaway: Identify the big “why” behind your business. Who are you trying to help? What difference do you want to make in the world? Getting clear on that will not only improve your ROI; it’ll improve your overall sense of satisfaction.
2. Location matters
While Silicon Valley or NYC may seem the “place to be” for entrepreneurs, the people Glauser interviewed made a conscious choice to escape the rat-race feel of big cities and move to a place they’d enjoy calling home.
For some, that meant being close to the mountains. For others, it meant going somewhere they could enjoy an active lifestyle or be a part of a close-knit community. Being able to feel a part of their surroundings and to give back was important to nearly every entrepreneur Glauser interviewed.
Your takeaway: Don’t forget the “life” side of the work-life balance equation. Make sure you’re creating a life in a location that makes you feel personally fulfilled, both as a person and as a business owner.
3. You don’t need a ton of money (or a great economy)
The entrepreneurs Glauser spoke with didn’t necessarily have a ton of startup money or a flush economy on their side, but they leveraged their creativity and the advice of smart advisors and mentors to bootstrap their way to success.
Your takeaway: Don’t see dollar signs as an obstacle to your entrepreneurial goals. You may need a little more than a “dollar and a dream,” but you can do a lot with a little if you’re smart about it.
4. You don’t need to be an MBA
“Only a handful” of the 100 entrepreneurs Glauser interviewed had any formal business background or training. They simply figured things out as they went along and applied the brains and experience they already had.
Your takeaway: Glauser’s advice, as a professor who teaches entrepreneurship? “The model is to create a prototype fast, scale up fast, grow, and create an exit strategy.”
To learn more about Glauser’s trip, including the entrepreneurs he interviewed and his plans for a book based on his findings, click here.
What other advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits and is the Editor-in-Chief of All Things Career. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.