4 Lessons on Innovation from a Successful Female Entrepreneur
The economist Tyler Cowen says the last few decades have seen the rise of what he calls the complacent class. It may not seem like it, but the numbers show people are sticking with jobs longer, relocating rarely, and innovating less.
In the midst of this complacency, there’s tremendous opportunity available for the non-complacent. I recently spoke with a woman who embodies the restless entrepreneurial spirit.
An Entrepreneurial Education
Carrie Green had intended to become a lawyer. But after a year of law school she ran short on money.
She needed work to fill the financial gap, but none of the jobs she found seemed interesting. Eventually she saw an opportunity as an online reseller unlocking cellphones, and took it.
“I didn’t know what on Earth I was doing,” she admitted. Fortunately, she was a quick study. “Somebody told me about Google Ad Words and so I got a credit card, a spending limit—a really small spending limit every day—and started to build the business.”
Her entrepreneurialism set her apart from her classmates. “When I wasn’t studying,” Green said, “I would be building my business,” and building her knowledge base by devouring business development books.
“In my third and final year of law school, I went to night school to learn more about web development. And I absolutely loved that. While everybody else was just being a student, I was exploring this whole new world that I’d just discovered,” she said.
Many college graduates search for what to do next, but Green already had a successful business and the know-how to pursue future endeavors.
She has since founded the Female Entrepreneur Association and published the bestselling book, She Means Business, which has a five star rating on Amazon after nearly 500 reviews by satisfied readers.
4 Lessons for Entrepreneurs
From our talk and from her book, I identified four lessons for motivated, non-complacent people to thrive in this more complacent world.
- Risk takers are needed. Green said that it takes “courage” to go out on your own and start something new, especially if you haven’t done it before. Often people give up the certainty of a paycheck to strike out on their own, and don’t make any money to speak of until the business is a success.
But in a complacent world in which fewer people attempt to be entrepreneurs, there are more opportunities just waiting to be pursued. There are also fewer potential competitors to fight you for marketshare. That doesn’t mean you will face no competition, but there’s more space to grow than ever before.
- Marketing has never been easier. Technology has made it much easier for the little guy to compete in markets that he wouldn’t even have had access to in the past. Green built her success on a primitive website and a marketing budget of $30 a day on her credit card.
With only a computer, a simple Internet connection and a lot of determination, you can get your message, your products or your services out there like never before.
“I dipped my toe into the online world and quickly realized how unbelievably powerful it was, and I was hooked,” Green said.
- It’s a challenge you can rise to. Green calls starting a business an “adventure.” She argues that the struggle that you will face along the way “forces you to grow and to become the best version of yourself.” I agree.
For some people, that may not apply, but for people who are wired for risk, the challenges of entrepreneurship are truly satisfying. You find that you enjoy it and would rather be doing this than anything else. That puts you in a great mental space to succeed.
- Help is one click away. One mental block to entrepreneurialism is people imagine they’ll have to figure out everything on their own. But that’s just not true, especially today. Information and tools for implementation are are more widely available now than ever before.
There are also a lot of people who are eager to trade information or offer their help on challenges. Carrie Green is one. I guarantee there are more in your space.
If Tyler Cowen is right and Americans are actually hedging their bets and risking less than in years past, there’s an opportunity for anyone willing to step outside their comfort zone to innovate and invest.