By Hunter Hoffmann, Head of US Communications at Hiscox Small Business Insurance
Entrepreneurs are some of the most courageous people out there since you need to be comfortable with a lot of risk to start a business from scratch. But, a lot of small business owners need some guidance to find their courage. That’s why most small business owners have someone in their life who served as a role model guiding them on their journey to start their own business. In fact, 64 percent of U.S. small business owners polled in the 2015 Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur study were inspired to run a business by their parents or other people they knew who had a successful business.
Established entrepreneurs can even inspire up-and-coming small business owners without even trying. Tim Berry, Palo Alto Software founder, wrote about how he raised a family of entrepreneurs, but not with the intention of doing so. He believes that the two most important factors that led his children to also become entrepreneurs were that he did not push them into following in his footsteps, and their educations were focused on learning, not on preparing to run a business.
Having close family and friends as role models and mentors, not just famous people you don’t actually know, can help aspiring business owners see the reality of running their own business, both the good and the bad. Before they were famous, celebrity entrepreneurs went through the same struggles many small business owners are now facing.
What should you look for in a role model or mentor?
Diversity of role models helps.
Everyone has their own particular talents that can guide burgeoning entrepreneurs. Maybe one entrepreneur you look up to has mastered the skill of public speaking, while another is an expert at sales pitches. Combine the best characteristics of all of your role models to create your own entrepreneurship style.
Role models can give you a preview of the future as you build your business.
Does a small business owner that you look up to work long hours and get involved with all aspects of their business? You need to be prepared to put in the same hard work they did if you want to follow their success.
Let history be your guide.
Failure can be a lesson, but you don’t have to repeat others’ mistakes to learn from them. No role model is perfect and you can learn as much by what they tried that didn’t work as you can from their successes. Ask them who they look to for advice and you can also expand your network of mentors.
Capture their courage.
Small business owners are 17 percent more courageous than the general population according to the Hiscox American Courage Index (ACI). You might need to take a chance to start your business, but you can get inspiration from others who successfully did the same. Role models can help get you ready to take risks to get your business started, and growing.
Pay it forward.
Once you get your business up and running don’t forget to pay it back to others who are just starting out. These new entrepreneurs can also help expand your network and keep you in touch with the latest developments in the start-up scene.
Role models and mentors are an important professional resource and system of support that can dramatically influence a new entrepreneur’s success and confidence. You don’t have to do it all alone, and getting advice from others who’ve already been there is a great advantage for new and aspiring small business owners.
Hunter Hoffmann is Head of US Communications at Hiscox Small Business Insurance and is responsible for media relations, social media, internal communications and executive messaging. Hunter lives in New York City with his wife and two sons – Walker and Otis. In his spare time, he moonlights as Chief Marketing Officer and deliveryman for Junior’s Fresh, a fresh baby and toddler food delivery service and cafe in New York City founded by his wife, Michelle.