Is There A Recipe For Entrepreneurialism?

Some people thought I was crazy when I announced that I had resigned as Vice President of Marketing, at Virgin America. Others applauded and sent kudos. It's time to try something new. Crazy? Maybe, but as the phrase goes, "we only live once." So, all systems go.

My story begins as a simple girl from Minnesota born to a probation officer mom and an industrial designer dad. My dad sat, day-after-day, in a musty basement drawing. He was creatively content, but fiscally frozen. He designed lawn trimmers, a floating calf feeder, a swivel chair and a plastic device you could put on a motorboat so your beer didn't spill. That last idea might give you some insight into my "happy pappy." With over thirty patents, he died without a dime. So why do some people make it and others don't?

I signed onto Facebook recently and a woman I know wrote, "this entrepreneurial stuff ain't for the faint-hearted."

Posts of encouragement quickly filled the screen. A couple of phone calls later, two other entrepreneurial friends are on the upswing. A winemaker obsessed with Pinots bubbled over with excitement. And a handbag designer shared that this week she filled her own pocketbook. Both graciously offered to help - and one even joked, "I'll take care of you until you get your stride." Helping others--that must be one ingredient to success.

Another ingredient will be learning to collaborate with new partners. Based on Myers Briggs, I'm an 'ENFP' and am defined as warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. I see life as full of possibilities. I'm spontaneous and flexible and rely on my ability to improvise and use my verbal fluency. Yep, that's me. A therapist of mine suggested that we pick romantic partners who compliment our weaknesses; I'm guessing it works for business partners too. So future partners, I hope you can handle the financials and the excel charts.

Other successful friends tell me the recipe for success is focus and follow-up. I'm usually good with focus, but admit if Ben & Jerry's is in my house, I can't accomplish anything. I love spending the night with those two guys. If I'm procrastinating, there's nothing like an oversized soup spoon loaded with ice cream filled with chocolate shaped fish, oozing caramel and marshmallow swirls. I could eat the whole pint and fall asleep into a food coma. Or, I could focus. Ugh, I may have to implement a no ice cream rule if I want to make it.

As I leave my kitchen table, I recall a conversation with a successful Bay-area business owner, "What people don't see is the seven years of failures that didn't make it. I finally have an idea that works, but it didn't happen overnight." This is a common theme I keep hearing, "don't give up, work hard and success won't happen overnight."

So maybe there's no recipe at all, and it's more like a test kitchen. You try, and try and try again until you find something that works. Adapt the recipe. Learn from your mistakes. Keep what's working and get rid of the rest.

What do you think? If you have entrepreneurial tips, I'd love to hear them. Comment here or let me know via Twitter @portergale.

This is the first in a series of posts by Porter Gale on entrepreneurship and career changes.

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