Entrepreneurship and a kernel of passion

Startup Weekend 2015

Today, we are all encouraged to take more initiative with our ideas – starting with school-aged children. There are many opportunities to be an entrepreneur in Hawaii, from sports teams fundraisers, Girl Scout cookie sales, and Keiki Swap Meets (through the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center) to Lemonade Alley, which teaches Hawaii children about starting a business and charitable giving.

You don’t have to be young to pursue a good idea. This week is dedicated to celebrating and encouraging entrepreneurs, innovators, and startup businesses for fun, for profit, or for giving it to a cause.

* Startup Weekend Honolulu is going on this weekend, November 13-15, where hopeful entrepreneurs can pitch business ideas in just 60 seconds, vote for the top 15 ideas, form teams, and bring a business to life. The event takes place at Agora and Boxjelly in Kaka’ako over an intense 54 hours. I’m interested to see what ideas they bring to life!

* Global Entrepreneurship Week starts next week, November 16-22, as a way to inspire more people become entrepreneurs and create more jobs. Through local and national events, it helps people explore their potential as entrepreneurs, connect innovators and mentors, and encourage business opportunities. I don’t think there are any Global Entrepreneurship Week partners or events in Hawaii yet – Pennsylvania and Texas seem to be the most active.

As 20-somethings, my husband and I started a small business. We went to work during the day, and came home to our second job in the evening and on weekends. We didn’t expect to make a lot of money, just enough to add to our savings. We were young, with a lot of energy and no kids. We didn’t pay ourselves, but we saved up enough to help with the down-payment on our first home. A side benefit of working two jobs was that we had less time to spend the extra money we made.

Here are three mindsets that helped us take the first step to starting and running a small business:

  1. Don’t hesitate because it’s not your passion. You can grow a business from a kernel of passion or support someone else’s passion. Just be sure that it’s something you believe in, something you’re excited about, or something you’re good at. After all, you’ll be committing a lot of time to your business.
  2. Focus on “fringe benefits” – the people you meet (customers, partners, and vendors), the knowledge you gain, and the experience you earn. Don’t expect a big payoff in money, customers, or media attention.
  3. It’s okay to dream small. You don’t need to quit your job, use your life’s savings, or constantly pitch your business to family and friends. Keep your “day job” and set modest goals, such as breaking even (a hobby that pays for itself), earning enough for a weekend getaway, or setting aside some of your profits for a charity. Remember to plan for success anyway!

Most of us can’t or shouldn’t make a leap of faith into entrepreneurship. A small business doesn’t have to be your life – it can be something we do on the side for extra income. It can be an excuse to pursue a hobby. It can just be something to keep us busy and out of trouble. Sometimes that kernel of passion bursts into popcorn; sometimes it’s a dud.

Have you ever wanted to start your own business? What kind of business would you dream up?

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