think differently

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Being an entrepreneur takes a different mindset for success

I launched my nylon and Velcro surfer wallet business in 1976. Two friends and I started it from scratch, part-time, while working full-time for Xerox. I knew I could not stay with Xerox for long because the business was beginning to take off and more and more time was required.

For me, the hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business was dealing with what my friends, family and co-workers would say or think. For me, that was the hardest job of all.

Are entrepreneurs crazy?

I can still remember telling a few of the people at the office that I would soon have to quit my job at Xerox and run the surfer wallet business full-time. “You’re crazy!” said one of the more senior salespersons. “You’re going to fail.”

“You know how many people want to work for Xerox?” said another senior salesperson. “You have a great job, great benefits, good pay and lots of promotion opportunities. If you keep your nose clean, someday you could be a sales manager. Why would you risk losing such a great job?”

“You’ll be back,” said another salesperson. “I’ve seen countless people like you. People who think they’re hot shots. They leave the company, fail and come back with their tail between their legs…if they have any tail left.”

The group of six salesmen and two saleswomen laughed with that comment and went on talking about the new copier the company was coming out with, and after that they talked about who was going to win the baseball game that night. I realized I had talked to the wrong people about my business and about my dreams. I realized I was talking to people who would pull me down rather than push me up.

Entrepreneurs have a different mindset

How many times have you heard people say some of the following statements?

  • “I wish I could quit my job.”
  • “I’m tired of going from job to job.”
  • “I wish I could make more money, but I can’t afford to quit and start all over with a new company. And I don’t want to go back to school and learn a new profession.”
  • “I’m working hard, but the only people getting rich are the owners of the company.”
  • “I’m working hard, but I’m not getting ahead financially. I’ve got to start thinking about retirement.”
  • “I can’t keep working this hard. I’m getting too old for this.”

These are often statements made by individuals trapped in the employee or self-employed quadrant of the CASHFLOW Quadrant. Deep down, many people want more than they have in life, not just more money, but also more freedom, more control, and more happiness.

Entrepreneurs are able to not just acknowledge these feelings but to also do something about them. They really do quit their job to follow a dream, and they don’t look to another job to bring the fulfillment they’re looking for.

In short, they have a different mindset—and they act on it.

A little bit crazy

So, yes, to most people, entrepreneurs are a little bit crazy. But then again, it’s all a matter of perspective. To me, it’s crazy to deny yourself an opportunity to pursue your dreams because of your fears, to choose safety over happiness.

And after all, as one of my favorite Apple ads reminds us, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Here’s to the crazy ones. Could that be you?

Original publish date: October 21, 2014