Episode 14: The Reality Behind Risk-Taking with LeShane Greenhill
Founder of Sagents and SalesCocktails.com LeShane Greenhill talks honestly about the risks in building your own business and gives tips on how to recover from those that fail.
LeShane Greenhill has been an entrepreneur since he was just a teenager.
When his father wouldn’t give him some extra cash to buy the new Nintendo game he wanted, Greenhill took matters into his own hands. He grabbed a lawnmower and began a business cutting grass around his neighborhood.
“Cutting grass was my first foot into entrepreneurship. It’s how I learned to sell and negotiate,” he said.
Since then, Greenhill has continued to innovate and create his own businesses. He’s become the founder of two successful ventures and served as the entrepreneur-in-residence at Google’s Tech Hub in Nashville.
But, it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. In this episode, Elliott Noble-Holt and Greenhill break down the behind-the-scenes work and risks that go into building a business. Greenhill talks honestly about what happens if your business doesn’t pan out, and how you can keep working toward success.
Using failure to succeed
When Greenhill began an IT solutions company out of college, he quickly realized he was in over his head. Without a lot of knowledge on his market, he spent two years working on making a business that never panned out.
It’s the reality of entrepreneurship – not every business will go as planned.
“I always tell people I’m a three-time failure in companies,” Greenhill said.
But, Greenhill learned from his early mistakes as an entrepreneur, and with each failed venture he began to gain more footing. Pretty soon, he was the founder of two successful technology companies.
“I learned to get help early,” Greenhill said. “And I learned to take advice and listen to others because some people told me not to do that, but I still did it.”
It’s difficult to take the leap of faith and begin your own business. Even with more tools to help entrepreneurs today, the risk of failure will always be there. Just one of every four businesses are successful.
“Starting a business is starting a business. It’s hard as hell. I don’t care what tools you give me, the risk doesn’t change,” Greenhill said. “I’m still taking a risk that it may not work. So, no matter how easy it is in terms of financing a business today, actually growing a business, identifying clients, putting procedures in place, that’s hard.”
But, that shouldn’t deter those who are willing to put in the work. LeShane believes entrepreneurs just need to be realistic about all the hard work that goes into making a business successful.
“There’s the misconception that when you start the business you work for yourself,” he said. “You’re actually working for your clients. Everyday.”
In other words, don’t trust the idea that being an entrepreneur is an easy get-rich-quick scheme. Social media can often distort people’s perception of what goes into starting your own company.
“Social media makes everything look easy, and that’s dangerous,” he warned.
The reality is that building something from the ground up may take you more than just 40 hours of work a week. It takes hustle.
A nonlinear path
There’s no one correct pathway to becoming an entrepreneur. While Greenhill went to college, he recognizes that it won’t be the best option for everyone.
If college isn’t for you, don’t stress. Much like Noble-Holt did, you can still learn the skills to build your own business.
“There are more [entrepreneurs without degrees] than we know,” he said. “We just shine that spotlight on a certain demographic. In this country, college is seen as the way to go to be successful.”
A degree may not be a prerequisite for success, but courage is. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to learn to be comfortable with risk and learn to trust your gut.
“Whatever it is that is in you to step out there and take that risk and believe that you can pull it off,” he said. “Not everyone has that.”
Whether or not your first business pans out, Greenhill believes in persistence as the second prerequisite for success. It doesn’t matter if you end up working for somebody else for a period, you should keep your entrepreneurial values with you.
“Run your life as if you’re an entrepreneur.”
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