This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is David Shriner-Cahn. David is the host of the wildly popular Smashing the Plateau podcast and his business helps consultants and coaches build their business following their careers as professionals employed in the marketplace. Simply put, David helps employees’ transition to thriving entrepreneurs.
He has been features in Forbes, INC, and many other outlets and is also a popular speaker. David’s mission to help people become entrepreneurs was born out of his experience of being a highly successful employee for 28 years only to wake up one day and be told it was over. He had to go through losing his job and identity to finding a new path as an entrepreneur and his experience and what he has learned can help so many that are in the same situation, so I’m excited to get into it.
David has a master’s in engineering from Cornell. He worked as an engineer early in his career and then transferred after a job loss to the not-for-profit sector. He had no formal training to become a not-for-profit executive and did that for 23 years. He had plateaued in the organization and could not become the CEO as he was in the #2 position. He decided that it was time to scratch entrepreneur itch he had most of his life and became a consultant.
He had built a network that he used to start his business.
What do you think is the hardest part about transitioning from an employee to entrepreneur? And talk to use about “chicken entrepreneurship.”
- The challenge with “chicken entrepreneurship” is deciding when you are ready.
- You real need to be mentally ready.
- The first step is the hardest piece for everyone.
What does that look like to be ready in your mind? How does someone know?
- Most of the time, you don’t know.
- It is when you have enough courage to jump and do it.
- What most have never done is the business piece – building and running a business day to day.
- The knowledge base someone has gained from their role over the years to solve a problem and set of problems is important to build your business around.
- You won’t know how to do everything, but you must be willing to work to figure it out as you go and take it as it comes.
Thoughts on the mind shift that has to happen?
- Its both a mindset and behavioral shift.
- If you are employee and are wrong 10% of the time, you are going to hear about it and not in a positive way. If you are an entrepreneur and right more than 10% of the time, you are probably doing well. It’s a big change to get used to.
- As an entrepreneur, you are going to try and fail all the time to succeed.
Is there a process people go through to manage the transition from employee to entrepreneur?
- It’s very helpful to have time for reflection and take some time not focused on producing income. You need time to focus inwardly.
- You can also see if you can get a role that is time limited, a short contract gig to pay bills while you get your business going.
- Step 2 is getting in touch with a few things about yourself and your impact.
- Understand what you love doing the most and are committed to.
- Get clarity on what it is you are most competent and doing – they may or may not be the same as what you love doing. Find the intersection of them.
- Then decide who you want to serve and what problem(s) you will solve for them.
- Next, do a little market research to determine there is a market and potential clients. Talk to them and see if they would hire you to solve the problem(s).
- You then need to test and start trying things and iterate.
Talk to us about the business side and running the business once up and going…
- How much money do you want to make? Margins matter because it is almost impossible to make up low margins with volume.
- You need to think about how many hours you want to put in. You can make more money, but not more hours.
- How much do you want your business to be about your own personal brand or not? How much is it based on you? This determines how you design things.
At the 27 min mark, David and I talk about why most people don’t get what they want… What are some of the best resources and tools you’ve found to help entrepreneurs?
- First, manage your processes with pencil and paper or typing out the steps.
- Pay attention to things that are repetitive.
- Once you track then, you can create systems that are repeatable around these processes so they can be handed off to others.
- Once you’ve done this, it will start to show what types of solutions you need to put in place for these needs such as technology, apps, virtual assistants, or assistants, etc.
At the 33 min mark, we discuss the #1 cause of business failure…
- The #1 cause is cashflow and managing it properly.
- Have appropriate cash reserves for hard times
- Sales is not cashflow. You have to collect the money.
Best practices around life/work design?
- We are whole human beings, and we need to integrate.
- It should all be working toward our higher purpose. So be very clear as to what this is.
- Clearly define your goals.
Other advice for entrepreneurs?
- Apply for credit when you don’t need it because that is when you are most likely to get it.
Best Quote: If you are employee and are wrong 10% of the time, you are going to hear about it and not in a positive way. If you are an entrepreneur and right more than 10% of the time, you are probably doing well. It’s a big change to get used to.
David's Misfit 3:
- When you are faced with a major transition, take time for self-reflection. You will be much better off for doing so.
- We do much better when we create structure. Most importantly, have a structure to create a positive mindset at the beginning of the day.
- Be prepared to iterate. Breakthroughs are what others notice after you have taken hundreds or thousands of pivots.
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