I know I’m not the first to label our forefathers as among our first entrepreneurs. I may even go so far to say that Benjamin Franklin and gang were the first to truly foster an entrepreneurial spirit in this country. Of course, the pilgrims certainly started the movement here in the U.S., but it was the Declaration of Independence that cemented it in place, at least in my view of history.
As we celebrate another of our country’s birthdays, it strikes me that there’s a lot we can still learn from the great men and women of that day, and how they created, embedded and popularized an entrepreneurial environment that ultimately gave birth to one of the greatest nations in the world. They formed a nation that now celebrates small business and encourages people to create an idea and make it their own.
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Here are a few lessons learned from John Adams and all that signed us into history.
1. Stick your neck out. When you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t be afraid to dive in, and you certainly can’t be tentative. If you’re going to go for it, then you have to stick your neck out there with all the energy you have and make your idea come to life. Then you have to stick with it through thick and thin. You may feel like you are putting your life on the line, and in many cases you are, but that shouldn’t stop you from going for what’s right.
2. Have a compelling argument. Running a new business is no easy feat, nor was starting a country, so you have to start with a good proposition about why you have a better option. Sure, salesmanship helps, but without a compelling argument about why people should switch to you, you won’t be taken seriously.
3. Be a good writer (or hire one). Of course, no matter how compelling the argument, it’s meaningless if it’s not well articulated. Is there anything more eloquently written than the Declaration of Independence? Your own brand story also needs to be told with clarity, persuasion, and with your audience in mind -- just like Thomas Jefferson did!
4. Embrace your independence. Wear your entrepreneurial spirit with pride and confidence. It’s not an easy road and the grass is always greener when you look at what the bigger companies have, but remember that your independence is what makes you special and compelling to your customers, so embrace it at every turn.
5. Act like a brand. On July 4, 1776, the United States of America not only became a country, it became a brand with both functional and emotional benefits for its citizens. The spirit of what John Hancock signed was in essence a brand positioning for the kind of country they were trying to create. You too should have that same spirit in mind as you create your business and turn it into a brand.
So as we look to celebrate our great nation, with all the things we love about it and all the things we’d love to change about it, let’s also celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that lives in us all and celebrate the work that you all do to keep this country alive and thriving.
Happy Fourth of July!