WHY DID I BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Kate Ryan Reiling (Founder and Inventor, Morphology Games):  I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur until I went to business school.  Like many eager MBAs, what I wrote my application essay on and what I ended up doing were not very related. 

After arriving at Tuck, the people I liked the best were those interested in entrepreneurship and it seemed that you needed one of two things to hang out with them: an idea or a skill.   I had an idea for a board game that I had been prototyping for a few years.  I didn’t know what to do with this idea but I knew one thing: people wanted to buy it after they played it.  Morphology gave me an entry into the world of entrepreneurship where I found a home.

Becoming my own boss was easy-I printed business cards that said:

Kate Ryan Reiling
President, Founder

When the box of business cards arrived as I prepared for my first major industry trade show, I took a deep breath.  Becoming the boss was easy; being the boss is not so easy.  In fact there are many times when I wish I had a (very good) boss, someone who would be responsible for worrying about the decisions of the company at 2am and someone who would grant me true vacation time where I could turn my phone off for a weekend.

But, what I love about entrepreneurship is that it is a world filled with people who can create something from nothing.  They can be quirky and crazy about their ideas but they are flexible and can deal with a fair amount of ambiguity, and make sense out of complicated things.  Great entrepreneurs, I believe, have the ability to move a boat nimbly through rapids-they can listen to their customers, they can make changes quickly but most importantly, they deeply believe that they will make it through as long as they stay focused and keep paddling. 

So I continue running rivers, some days I’m grateful that my boat hasn’t sunk and other days I’m alive with the incredible energy of something gone right.  And at least I know that if my boat topples over, I can say it was a great ride (as I climb into the next boat to head to the next rapid).

 

Mike Adair (Founder and CEO, Red’s All Natural):  I wish I could say that I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and that it’s in blood but the reality is that I was strongly encouraged to get a job with a corporation and work my “up” so I would have security…  I did that for six years and went up and got paid a ton and hated it.  Finally I cracked and coincidentally was sent the Steve Job’s commencement address to Stanford…. I read it about 50 times in two days.  I called my boss and quit… I just decided that life is too short and I made a decision to be happy…I had no idea where that would take me, but it changed my life. I could have never guessed it would lead me but to grad school, then to starting a burrito company, go figure. I absolutely love what I do and would never ever go back…!

The hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur is just making the decision to do it, everyone will tell you not to.  Once you do it, it will feel like a piano has been lifted off your back.  It will be the hardest thing you ever do professionally, but by far the most rewarding.

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