To Be Funded Or Not To Be Funded – That Is The Question #entrepreneurship

A Little Background

I teach Entrepreneurship in Computer Science in what I like to call modules (see below). Each builds on the other to come to make a point at the end of the semester which is a fully vetted and formed business idea with the ability to communicate and sell (that’s right – I am teaching computer science students to sell) their idea.

modules

Funding

As I close the class and get my really stressed out students ready for their final, I had a little realization about funding. This realization was compounded by a day spent with city and academic leaders in Charlotte NC, wanting to figure out why our entrepreneurial efforts were so weak. The point of the day and the lecture in the class led to similar outcomes, which is… we need money to fuel growth. As these recommendations were becoming clearer to me I realized that this thought was counter to the entrepreneurial spirit. AvidXchange, a company I helped start in 2000, recently raised $600,000,000 in funding. The city and universities in the area became very interested in Avid. However, the idea being, “We need more Avids” “How do we get more Avids” the answer came back – “We need more money to create more programs”. However, Avid, as an example, was self-funded until the idea matured, the software was stable and leadership was in place. If we would have had money to start we would not have been so hungry and successful.

Conflict

Knowing that Avid was going to add 1000 – 1500 new jobs to the area (good jobs at that) I realized that throwing money at the opportunity was not a good idea. I am still working this out but thought I would write to see what the outside world thinks. Here are a few loosely formed conclusions:

  1. The Entrepreneurial Spirit (that’s the attitude) has to be grown organically and can’t be bought
  2. The roots are in the people’s ability to understand they have options other than working for someone else
  3. The idea has to be established and then funded not the other way around
  4. Entrepreneurs don’t think like government officials and there is a lot of assumptions on both sides

Hope!

My hope in writing this is to use the entrepreneurial spirit to spark the entrepreneurial efforts for entrepreneurial gains!

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Why People In Corporate America Struggle As #Entrepreneurs

I am lucky, a week doesn’t go by where I don’t get a pitch from someone about a great idea for a business…. If you think I am making fun of them… I am not because they believe it’s the greatest idea ever and they have that new passion that I love. I wouldn’t, however, be doing them any favors if I didn’t give them my true opinion. I have a saying that I like folks to know about ideas; if your idea is so unique and never been done before it is one of two things… (1) Way ahead of its time (2) Completely useless. I will typically pause (dramatically) and ask, “which one are you?” I don’t normally get an answer, but I do get them thinking. At least I hope to get them thinking.

Safety

People that are new to the entrepreneur world like to play it safe with an idea that is very popular, like ride share or social media. Those that are in a long time corporate job see entrepreneurs in their communities having success and want to be part of it. I say… come on in the water is great! However, if you want to play it safe know that there are two things that will be very difficult for you.

Thing 1 – Skill Transfer

If you have had a great corporate career and have achieved a lot by climbing the ladder, and typically that’s done within several companies, your experience will translate to being an entrepreneur. Especially is your career has been marked with team building, selling and communicating. The problem comes when those leaving their corporate jobs lean too much on their experience as if having a 30-year career in a Fortune 500 company is all they need to be successful. I tell those people that the experience is great, however, what happens when every plan you make turns out to be a dud or there are a dozen things you haven’t planned for comes up. What then? There is nothing worse than seeing someone sink everything they have saved into a bad idea and slowly watch it turn to nothing. Good entrepreneurs are great at mitigating risk and dealing with uncertainty. If those two things have not been part of your corporate career you are going to have a lot of trouble. Do yourself a favor and be very proud of your corporate experience, but know starting your own thing and taking too big of a risk is not good business. To have too much pride in your corporate experience can close you off to an appropriate pivot that will allow you to move from your original idea to a better idea. Skilled entrepreneurs are great at abandoning a bad idea at the right time. I know from my AvidXchange experience that we had three product failures in two years but those failures led us to the one product that really made an impact. Having corporate experience is great but thinking that it’s going to be your ace is wrong. That experience doesn’t always transfer.

Thing 2 – The Call

Being confident is great but being overconfident in your experience is dangerous. It’s not the biggest reason why people from corporate job struggle. The biggest reason is what I label, “the call”. Imagine that you have taken the leap out of your corporate job and are following your dream. Then you have a stretch of a few weeks or months (sometimes even years) where nothing goes right. All the plans haven’t shown signs of profits, the savings are being chipped away and nothing is working. The call is when you are in the middle of bad times and you are talking with or having lunch with an old colleague and you are open about your troubles and they say, “hey, we have been thinking that we could use <something that you do well> and I know you are living your dream but think about coming back and working part-time or do something on the side”. It’s those distractions that get that little voice in your head saying “run back to safety” and you dream about the times where you didn’t have to worry about payroll or deal with an enrages customer. It’s that pull back to where things were comfortable that takes you out of focus and kills your spirit. People asked me why I stuck with Avid for so long when things were rough. The first year I was in business I got one of my cars repoed… I didn’t take a vacation for 10 years without someone giving my family a place to stay or a handout of some sort. The answer I know now was… I stuck with it because that’s all that I could do. I didn’t have any corporate skill or connection that pulled me in another direction. I guess you could say I was lucky that way. I also knew that if I got a job at the bank I would have lasted a few weeks because I would have chased some wild project that the corporation didn’t care about.

Think About It

I wrote this with as much genuineness as I can… If you have the call to be an entrepreneur… do it! I want everyone to control their own destiny, but if you think that working for a large corporation is going to give you an advantage… think twice because the skills may not be as valuable as you think, but also know that once you commit… commit all the way.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and Queen’s University as well as travels the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.

The #Entrepreneur’s Greatest Asset – Risk Verses Uncertainty – #entrepreneurship #entrepreneur

I think there has been somewhat of a misunderstanding with entrepreneurs and the outside world. Starting and growing a business is what most would label as too risky.

Risk

My issue is, the more that I get to know and meet successful entrepreneurs the less I know them as “risk-takers”. Far from it, especially if that entrepreneur is raising money. Not just raising money but is good at raising money and has a product or service that is worthy of money. Having had firsthand experience in raising $600M over 2 years from more than a dozen investors the one thing that was out of the equation was the risk. Investors and professional entrepreneurs alike are expert risk mitigators. Mitigators isn’t really a word – I need to make something up because I needed to describe the killing of risk as an action because that’s what a good entrepreneur does. Any opportunity to kill risk they will do it. The more successful an entrepreneur the more they will hunt risk and take it down. Killing risk is one of those things that grows with an entrepreneur.

If you buy into this, you can understand why being labeled as a “risk taker” for an entrepreneur is false. Why does the outside or work-a-day world consider starting a company a risky venture? The landscape of the entreprenerial scene is littered with botched attempts of businesses or people know a family member that has lost their savings in a ill faded franchise. These things happen all the time, but I do contend if those folks really knew what it meant to be an entrepreneur, most of them would have never started those businesses, which is an example of risk mediation or for those that did start those businesses they would have been successful.

Consider this too… I think it is much riskier to work for a large corporation and make a big salary. I have known plenty of people when the large corporation’s profits fell they were the first one to be without a job, and the prospects of them landing a job, position and salary like they had were zero.

Uncertainty?

I don’t blame anyone for taking a paycheck and providing from their families. I don’t fault or look down on anyone that wants routine in their work life. More than once, more like hundreds of times, I have envied those folks, but knew that I couldn’t do what they do… The thing that people see in entrepreneurs that looks and feel like risk… isn’t risk at all… entrepreneurs are good at managing uncertainty. The notion that there is no routine or set plan that they don’t make. Money doesn’t come from a budget, plans are not set in stone and if you are looking for a procedure you better keep looking. The entrepreneur’s daily (including the weekends) lives are riddled with one uncertainty after another. From product or service changes, additions, hiring decision, cash flow, expansion, growth, time off, marketing, sales, customer issues… everything. If you are lucky as an entrepreneur you will have grown your business in a way that will give you data to make decisions but most of the time, even with data it comes down to a gut feel. That can be too much for some people because they aren’t confident enough to decide.

Don’t Risk

Taking an unneeded risk isn’t smart. At any point in your life if you have an opportunity to eliminate the risk… do it! If you can’t and you need to decide, get wise council and eventually go with your gut, but don’t call it a failure if it doesn’t work.  Recognize that you discovered a way that didn’t work and believe me you won’t forget it, and my hope for you, is you don’t make that mistake again which I am happy to say is experience, the entrepreneur’s greatest assets.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and Queen’s University as well as  travels the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.

What is Digital Labor? #innovation #automation

Several things put me in a unique situation to learn. One is teaching at a University. I hope it doesn’t seem odd that when I teach I learn. There is a lot of preparation and the University gives me access to some great minds and thinking. The other is my level of travel. I go to all of the big cities in the US at least two to three times a year and I get to explore those sites.

OK?

Traveling and teaching came together this spring in order to attach an interesting phrase to something I had been working on… Digital Labor.

Teaching

In my class, Entrepreneurship, I like give the students tangible evidence that they are being innovative. Innovation is one of those things, especially at a university, that get used and over used to the point that people really don’t know what it is but are afraid to admit it. I wanted to break that cycle by using principles like jumping curves and creative destruction. Jumping curves is something I learned from Guy Kawasaki. The idea is if you listen to your customers on innovation you will make marginal improvements. If you are truly innovative you will make gigantic improvements like going from the ice factory to the in home ice maker or the flip phone to the smart phone or my favorite today (with 90+ degree weather) the hand-held fans to indoor air conditioner. Creative destruction is the improvements in the work world that makes tasks or even entire jobs obsolete. These principles are proof that innovation is in action.

Travel

On a trip to NYC I stop into a cigar shop and had a seat knowing that I would meet a kindred spirit for a smoke and a conversation. It always happens and the conversation are positive and it helps me forget how homesick I am. I struck up a conversation with business man and he asked me what I do. I told him I help companies automate their accounting process. He got a very pained look on his face and I said, “do you know about automation?” He said “I sure do” because he started a consulting practice to help businesses consume more automation. Now we are new best friends and for the next two hours engaged in all kinds of conversation on automation. Part of that conversation had him schooling me on the idea of a digital labor force and his unique perspective on how it would impact jobs in the future.

What is it?

It’s simple in principle and complex in application. The idea of digital labor is to put software into as many manual task as possible. The problem comes in (thanks to Hollywood) that if you do this the software will somehow take over and humans will be left without work. In my own business the net effect are people are willing to sit at a computer terminal and do data entry when that is completely a waste of time. The application of digital labor is to make the workforce smarter with higher paying jobs. This has played out over the centuries from the secretary pools of the seventies and eighties to female CEOs and hundreds on an assembly line to highly skilled engineers monitoring robotics. The future will continue like this and my hope for people is they not focus on what they think they are going to lose and focus on how they can better themselves.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

The Tenet of Creative Destruction and Its Role In Innovation – #innovation #entrepreneurship

Innovation is one of those terms that people through around way too much. It’s like success and goal setting or even love. One of the things that I stress to my students or anyone that will listen to me is, “How do you know you are being innovative?”

Answer

The simple answer that people give me is they don’t know… People (it’s in their nature) have a very difficult time determining between an idea they personally like (especially if they have launched the idea and are following their dreams) and an idea that is truly innovative. That’s where creative destruction comes in.

Destruction

The term was developed by an economist in 1942, Joseph Schumpeter and brought to my attention by  Freakanomics radio (http://freakonomics.com/2009/03/13/creative-destruction/ ). The basic tenet of the idea is that innovation will replace either tasks or entire jobs. On the outside of this idea it looks like robots and technology is taking of the world. Well… maybe not the world but in the short-term the downside to creative destruction is that people lose their jobs. However, when these jobs are lost the tasks and jobs that replace them are always better with a higher pay and better working conditions. I was talking with a group of college interns last week and in an effort to make my point, because they weren’t too excited about being innovative and people losing their jobs, I made the point that by the simple fact we were all sitting in this room (air-conditioned when it was 90 degrees outside) talking about ideas and me trying to motivate them to business success that we were living the overt positive outcome of creative destruction. I asked them, “what do you think you all would be doing if it were 100 year ago…” I didn’t let them answer and I said, “no, how about 50 years ago?” (there was any easy argument for 15 years ago). After a slightly longer than expected pause someone said, “we wouldn’t be here”. Which is true. Most would be working in fields or a factory and the lucky few would have been in an office doing manual labor. That’s creative destruction.

Point

The more destructive the idea, business or product the more innovative. Creative destruction is a measuring stick of innovation.

 

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

 

Where Does Risk Come Into #Entrepreneurship – #Success #Fintech

 

When I was in college I thought I was sooooooo smart. I had a very little picture of a bottle Wisk detergent in my dorm room and I would tell who asked that, “every once in a while you have to take a little Wisk” and I would hand it to them. I know you are laughing on the inside.

Shocking

In conducting my UNCC class on Entrepreneurship I introduced the idea of risk in starting a business. Now, keep in mind my students are some variety of computer sciences major, and my class (for the most part) is and has been the only “business type” class they have ever taken. Their views of entrepreneurship is the typical view that we are a bunch of “work hard – play hard – fly by the seat of your pants – 5 hour energy drinking – sport car driving – can’t get a word in edge wise” risk takers. I think we all know the stereotype, however, it cannot be future from the truth. When I told my class that information was met with a great amount of skepticism.

Skepticism

The idea that I introduced to my class was entrepreneurs are not risk takers. Well, good entrepreneurs are not risk takers. Taking risk is a skill, and like any skill can be matured, practiced and perfected. An example, and as I continue on my journey to close the gap between salespeople and entrepreneurs (to me they are the same) an entrepreneur that is focused on generating income for the company knows that it is less a focus on income and more a focus on activity that will bring in that income. Activity like making calls, meeting people, webinars, conferences, blogging, advertisement, articles, social media, website traffic… With higher levels of activity and the more consistent that activity is the less risky the plight of generating income.

Luck?

I can’t tell you how many people don’t understand this and are subject to things like timing and the winds of change. Entrepreneurs that have a focus on mitigating risk by skill building are consistently labeled as lucky. Well, they are and I count myself as one of these because of what a mentor of mine told me about the topic of luck. He said luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. With a definition like that the more you prepare and the more you put yourself out there using activity the luckier you will be.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that startedAvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact usfor more information.

What’s the deal with Success? #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #fintech #success

In my head, when I wrote this title I think I was channeling my inter Jerry Seinfeld. I really miss his show and watch the reruns whenever I can. However, my kids don’t really seem to get it.

I had always wanted to teach a class on success. I consider myself successful – others tell me that I am successful, but I think for the point of this article it’s important that you know that I believe that I am not there yet. I think there is a lot more for me to do and achieve. At 47 (that’s right – I am telling my age) I believe that I am just getting started. Because of teaching at UNC – Charlotte and running an internal mentoring program at AvidXchange (with both employee and interns) I have found out a few things about success that I wanted to pass on to the rest of the world.

The Problem

Have you ever notice that solving other people’s problems are easy than solving your problems? That’s because they are your problems and the bigger the problem the less ability you have to be creative and think outside the box. However, problems and obstacles are the root and basis of all success. People have a tendency view successful people as being lucky or folks that were given something that you don’t have access to. It’s not true. Take as an example famous people who are famous for no reason (I won’t name their names because I physically can’t bring myself to type them). Just because someone is on TV and have what seems to be a lot of money. That doesn’t mean they are successful. As I painfully watch reality TV because my wife loves it and I love her, the more and more I think about it the more I realize there is no one on any of those shows that are successful. Money and fame can be a detractor to success.

Real Success

The more I study the more I come to realize that success is not passing people by or eluding people, it just that they don’t know what it is. When you don’t know what something is (like success) then there is no way to know if you have it or not. That’s why I have made a persistent and conscious effort to teach people who in order to be successful you must have two things:

  1. A Definition – Tricky thing about success is you can’t touch it or grab it so the definition you come up with can’t be touched or grabbed either. (Like a car, house or title – that’s not success) Material things are outcomes of successes but not success. If you are interested, I will share my definition of success but you will have to contact me because I don’t really want to publish it.
  2. A Plan – Without a path, road or direction – any road will take you were you are going. I know I didn’t get the quote right but without details you are left to whims, changing winds and worst of all pointless and meaningless daily activities which is what creates depression and the idea that your life, business or direction is meaningless. The opposite of this is when you have a plan you have hope and you have motivation and when you hit on difficult times you keep working the plan and fighting.

Final Thoughts

Don’t sign up to be a victim. Having a proactive and intentional life is exciting and fulfilling. It’s never too late to start and great news – starting is easy. First define and then plan.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

2 Things That Kills Entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship

 

Now that I have experience and teaching entrepreneurship at UNCC has given me a unique view of success and failure. I had a mentor tell me years ago that you can learn more from failure than you can from success. I really didn’t know what he was talking about at the time but I sure do now.

Failure

For some reason (probably the pain) failure tends to stick with me more. I don’t like thinking about my failures but as I fail and succeed the more negative is a better teacher.  In the pursuit of better teaching, I have added a module to my class on why entrepreneurs fail. I don’t really like to teach on it but the students seem to really take to the information, and I have found two things that seem to be consistent to lack of business startup success.

Thing 1

Entrepreneurs are a very funny breed. You need to have a strong stomach, thick skin and a lazer focus. All of that equates to what the rest of the world calls stubbornness. If you are an entrepreneur or you know one you know that you can barely talk them out of anything. When we first started AvidXchange in 2000 it was five heard strong – wanting to do it my way – men. You can imagine the arguments we had. It’s difficult to change an entrepreneur’s mind when they get stuck on some idea and they are convinced that their idea is going to be the next big thing. (However) That is the first failure, which is the inability to change. When an entrepreneur is so wedded to their idea that they won’t change or aren’t creative enough to change it’s only a matter of time before the business begins to suffer. I am sure there are exceptions to this, but in the innovative tech world (that I live in) change is key to success. It is, however, interesting that you can change too much, so there has to be a balancing act between changing and staying focused. It is important to mention that cycles have a tendency to operate in 18 month groups. I can’t remember where I got this from, but it’s been years since I was introduced to this idea and I have used it successfully to keep the balance between change and changing too much.

Thing 2

The next thing that will kill entrepreneurs is selling. All successful entrepreneurs are great salespeople. The problem is that so many people have such a negative view of selling that they either won’t give it a chance (because it’s a learned skill) or are unable to recognize good selling. When good selling in done well by a pro the person being sold to will have no idea and they will think the person is being honest or displaying a lot of integrity. With this failure there is the obvious… if the entrepreneur can’t or (this is what happens most of the time) won’t sell then the company won’t make any money which is a quick road to failure. Consider this too, that as an entrepreneur selling to customers is important but selling to advisors, bankers, investors, board members, employees and family (especially family) is just as important.

Think of This

Not being able or unwilling to sell and not changing put a person in a position to where all of their eggs are on the sides of the road (not even in a basket) and both selling and being able to evaluate opportunity are skills that can learned and taught and improved.

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and Queen’s University as well as  travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

What Is The Entrepreneurial Spirit? #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurs

“Entrepreneurship” – it’s one of those terms that a lot of people use but I don’t really think they know what it means. It’s easily defined by way of the internet:

eship

But what is it really. The definition changes greatly when you put the word “spirit” with it.

Funny Story

I was with my fourteen-year-old daughter as she was signing up for high school classes (my how time flies). It was a simple process of sitting with an advisor that was somehow willing to give her Saturday up to help people pick the right class. My eyes darted down the list to see what was on it. Mixed with “domestic arts” (not even kidding) “dance” and “PE” was entrepreneurship. It was like I had found Waldo. I said to my daughter, “LOOK! Entrepreneurship! Take that one! Take that one!” Getting the “will you please not embarrass me look” from my daughter she calmly said… “What’s that?” Ok… this was my big chance to finally teach my daughter what I do. But for some reason my mind was blank. I didn’t know where to start. I knew that a 10 minute explanation was going to get me kicked out of the gym-a-caf-a-rium. I only had a split second to narrow down my almost 40 years of experience so I said, “well… it’s what I do” THAT’S IT?!? That’s all I had. Of all the hours of teaching what it means to be prepared and armed with a targeted to the point elevator pitch all I came up with was, “it’s what I do”. Then I just looked at her as if to will all of my knowledge into her so she could have a life blessed with entrepreneurial success and failures. To which she replied, “oh and what is it you do dad?” Now the advisor was waiting for my answer too and I said, “Well, I can’t explain it all right here… way too much to tell… it about starting a business.” Again short and to the point my daughter said, “I don’t really want to start a business”. And that was the end of that. My moment was lost and in some kind of veil consolation I looked at the advisor and asked if she knew who taught the class, thinking that I could come in and… you know… help teach. After all I was a University level teacher in the arts of entrepreneurship.

Oh Yea?

As I left the school, something came back to me that had been bothering me teaching this semester. Do people really know what entrepreneurship is? Hopefully the awkward story with my daughter proves that it’s not an easy thing to “bottom line” entrepreneurship. The definition above is easy enough to explain, but why do some people have that “it” factor and other struggle and just don’t get “it”. How do you teach “it” anyway? Based on the time with my daughter I don’t even know really what “it” is. I thought a lot about this and came up with the entrepreneurial spirit. The spirit is an attitude that separates the willing from the want-to-be(s) and the risk taker from the conservative. The spirit gets someone up early and doesn’t let their mind rest as they lay down at night. The entrepreneurial spirit is the fire that burns when all you have had for the last month is rejection. It’s fuel that allows you to push ahead but also give you opportunity to change when success isn’t on your current path. It is the best part of the job!

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and Queen’s University  and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

To Be Funded Or Not To Be Funded – That Is The Question #entrepreneurship

A Little Background

I teach Entrepreneurship in Computer Science in what I like to call modules (see below). Each builds on the other to come to make a point at the end of the semester which is a fully vetted and formed business idea with the ability to communicate and sell (that’s right – I am teaching computer science students to sell) their idea.

modules

Funding

As I close the class and get my really stressed out students ready for their final, I had a little realization about funding. This realization was compounded by a day spent with city and academic leaders in Charlotte NC, wanting to figure out why our entrepreneurial efforts were so weak. The point of the day and the lecture in the class led to similar outcomes, which is… we need money to fuel growth. As these recommendations were becoming clearer to me I realized that this thought was counter to the entrepreneurial spirit. AvidXchange, a company I helped start in 2000, recently raised $600,000,000 in funding. The city and universities in the area became very interested in Avid. However, the idea being, “We need more Avids” “How do we get more Avids” the answer came back – “We need more money to create more programs”. However, Avid, as an example, was self-funded until the idea matured, the software was stable and leadership was in place. If we would have had money to start we would not have been so hungry and successful.

Conflict

Knowing that Avid was going to add 1000 – 1500 new jobs to the area (good jobs at that) I realized that throwing money at the opportunity was not a good idea. I am still working this out but thought I would write to see what the outside world thinks. Here are a few loosely formed conclusions:

  1. The Entrepreneurial Spirit (that’s the attitude) has to be grown organically and can’t be bought
  2. The roots are in the people’s ability to understand they have options other than working for someone else
  3. The idea has to be established and then funded not the other way around
  4. Entrepreneurs don’t think like government officials and there is a lot of assumptions on both sides

Hope!

My hope in writing this is to use the entrepreneurial spirit to spark the entrepreneurial efforts for entrepreneurial gains!

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information