The Rough and Rugged Road of Entrepreneurship
On Jan.14, I had the pleasure of speaking to high school students in my home school district about starting a business and succeeding as an entrepreneur.
Initially, the conversation centered on the importance of having a business plan and launching a business in the first place.
While having a business plan is necessary to securing funding, especially from banks, things do not always go according to plan in life or in business.
Therefore, any aspiring entrepreneur needs a few things to succeed in business: faith, perseverance, hard work, determination and a steadfast vision of what you want to achieve and accomplish.
I was invited to speak to a class taught by one of my former college students at Texas Southern University.
When I walked in, the beauty of the building and the maturity of the students immediately astounded me.
Many already knew what they wanted to do in life.
But few probably had talked to people with the experience of starting and maintaining a successful business.
The students asked me questions about securing funding.
The students asked me questions about 0bstacles I had overcome.
And the students even asked questions about business deals.
But all of the talking points came back to having a vision and a plan and surrounding yourself with the right people to take your vision to the next level.
The truth of the matters is, no one can give an aspiring entrepreneur specific advice about how to become successful in a particular profession.
Every successful person traveled a different road to success.
From northwest Houston, you can probably get to the Galleria three or four separate ways.
One way might get you there sooner.
One way might have more headaches and detours.
And one way may take longer than the other ways.
However, in the end all people traveling to the Galleria will get there at some point.
The point is that people have to find out what route works for them and either stick with the route or try a new route to get to that destination.
That is what entrepreneurship really is.
Having a map to get to your destination, but not being so stubborn as to ignore your mental GPS when it tells you to reroute.
Additionally, one of the main reasons aspiring entrepreneurs fail is because their time frame does not match God’s time frame for them.
Some people travel by train, car or bus and it takes them longer to get to their end destination.
However, when they get there many are glad that they took the scenic route because they grew a better appreciation for the road that they travelled.
Some people take a quick flight to their destination and they get there in a couple of hours.
The point is that everyone eventually gets there.
Nobody can tell you how long it will take to reach your dreams.
I told a student it might take him 10 years to get where he is going.
But he might be talented enough that it only takes him 10 weeks.
Every story is different; so do not expect your story to read like everyone else’s.
When I told one of my older cousins (by 16 years) my plans for my talk show “Regal Roundtable,” he criticized my plans because that was not the route that Oprah Winfrey took.
While my goal is to one day be on the same level as Winfrey as a media mogul, the route she took to billion dollar success started in the 1980s.
Things have changed drastically since the 1980s, so her plan might not work in today’s era.
Who is to say that Winfrey would even be as successful in today’s generation of social media, shock value and viral videos?
What has worked for me when it comes to promoting my online magazine and television show, works for me.
My plan is not the only plan.
It is just my plan.
So while, many entrepreneurs and advisors really stress the importance of business plans, it is imperative that people know that plans change.
A wise person once said if you want God to laugh, tell Him your plans because things never go according to script.
If things went according to my plan, I would have become a multi-millionaire over a decade ago.
While my initial plans did not work perfectly, all of the ups and downs prepared me for the success that God has in store for me.
After graduating from Southern University, I briefly attended law school at Texas Southern University.
My tenure in law school only lasted briefly and sometimes I believed that I had wasted a year and a half of my life chasing a dream that did not come true.
However, God allowed me to attend law school long enough for me to understand media law, which has become extremely crucial in my career.
My time in law school taught me how to understand legal jargon.
I know the importance of owning my intellectual property.
And I know how not to get played in this business.
So what I thought was a waste of time and a major detour might end up making me millions of dollars in the future instead of potentially losing millions because of ignorance and bad business deals.
All of the heartache, pain and disappointment worked to my advantage too.
While I would have loved to have instant success, people seem to feel the passion and pain in my voice when I speak about my trials and tribulations.
There is no way to fake passion.
People can see right through phoniness.
Therefore, God had to take me through the valleys, before I could stand on my peak and encourage others.
Without the bumpy road, I could not reach as many people.
One of my best friends said that I connect with people because of my voice.
And I developed my voice because of the long and winding road that was not a part of my initial business plan.