No, this isn’t clickbait to sell you on some ‘how to get rich quick’ book, nor is it some hidden secret to success. Through my experiences running VentureStorm the past two years, I have encountered hundreds (if not thousands) of entrepreneurs from around the world – some extremely successful, others not so much. I have also taken notice of the actions and sacrifices my team and I take on a day-to-day basis to continue to grow the company. Through this journey, I have developed a theory in what I believe to be is the key to being a successful entrepreneur.
It’s not all about the product, the marketing strategy, the celebrity endorsements, or the funding in the bank. What separates entrepreneurs from every other type of normal person (because trust me, you have to be a psychopath to be an entrepreneur) is their unprecedented determination to solve problem after problem, despite the challenges they face. It’s a characteristic many describe as ‘grit’, and if you don’t have it, I think the odds of you being a successful entrepreneur are against you.
When my now co-founders and I first conceived the idea of VentureStorm, none of us were in position to make it a reality. We were college students with just an idea – no money, lack of skills, lack of network, lack of experience, and an overwhelming amount of difficult classes to adhere to. For many, that alone would be enough to say, “You know what, cool idea, but don’t think it’s in the cards.” It’s that mentality that separates entrepreneurs from everyone else.
We cared deeply about the problem we were trying to solve, and saw the opportunity before us. We didn’t know how to code, so we decided to learn. We each took an online course on how to build a web application in Ruby on Rails. We were by no means experts, but it was enough to get us started. Despite the lack of skills, it was our grit which pushed us towards overcoming that obstacle.
Once VentureStorm was up and running, the amount of challenges ahead accumulated substantially. We had this product, but no one knew about it. We were three engineers, none with the slightest bit of marketing experience. Where many would turn to hiring an experienced marketing guru, or at least connect with a marketing student on campus- we had the mentality that we could learn to do it ourselves. An entrepreneur NEEDS to be a jack-of-all-trades, especially early on.
You can’t rely on outsourcing everything and relying on other people for every obstacle you face. We picked up a few books about Google AdWords, read article after article online about mastering Facebook Advertising, and began to experiment ourselves. We ran several successful digital advertising campaigns without any prior experience, and are continuing to improve day by day.
Currently we’re trialing a new concierge service where we utilize proprietary algorithms while leveraging several internal and external databases to source talent for more established companies and well-funded startups. My team and I have been sending hundreds of cold emails a day, along with making dozens of cold calls. All of a sudden these three engineers are full-time salesmen. Are we the best in the business? Definitely not. Is this something we even want to do? I think I can speak for the rest of the team in saying we’d probably enjoy focusing on other facets of the business more than cold calling random companies.
But is it necessary to grow? Yes. We have already completed several contracts and secured several more. It may not be what we thought we signed up for two years ago, but it is a tremendously opportunistic revenue stream that would allow us to grow and scale the platform considerably. And that is what’s most important about being an entrepreneur. Understanding that you may not be the most qualified, or even the most interested, but you’re willing to do whatever it takes to grow your business.
This isn’t a story about VentureStorm; however, I believe it’s best to learn from other’s experiences. Sure we aren’t the most successful startup in the world (yet), and we still have an incredible amount of work to do. I am certain though, without our founding team possessing these overwhelming ‘nothing will stop us’ and ‘we can solve any problem’ mentalities, I assure you we wouldn’t be where we are today. Excuses are the devil- keep learning and keep grinding.
By Tyler Denk