We sat down with three young entrepreneurs--Blake Miller, Hunter Browning and Jeff Rohr--to find out why they chose entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But according to a recent Mashable article, almost half of Americans wish it was.
Despite recent economic troubles, 48% of Americans dream of opening a business of their very own. At the same time, 71% of small business owners say they would open their business all over again if they had the chance. So what is it about entrepreneurship that awakens the dreamer in us?
To answer this question, Think Big reached out to some of our favorite local entrepreneurs and coworking members to see why they took the plunge and started their own business. Here’s what we found out.
The Realization of Wanting to Become an Entrepreneur
Hunter Browning, President and CEO of Fannect, never thought he would become an entrepreneur, but he “was never great at playing by other people’s rules”.
Fannect, a new app that determines which sports teams have the best fans, stems from Browning’s love of soccer. After he decided to stop playing, he wanted to stay connected to sports another way.
“I guess I was experiencing withdrawal from the competition. I had the idea and the next week I found a partner. We pulled the trigger pretty fast,” Browning said.
Think Big’s own Blake Miller, however, always saw himself as an entrepreneur.
“I grew up in an entrepreneurial household. I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur when I started my own business at 6 years old,” Miller said. “Corporate life was never in the cards for me.”
Miller is now a partner at Think Big Partners and also acts as co-founder for PitchCastr, BodeeFit and WeeJay.fm among other things (it’s safe to say that Blake is a serial entrepreneur).
Much like Miller, CEO and founder of SquareOffs, Jeff Rohr, was also destined to become an entrepreneur.
“My parents instilled in my brother and I at a very young age that we were meant for big things and gave us the courage to go after our dreams,” Rohr said. “You only live once as well, so you might as well do something big. I was never meant to follow the well-trodden path.”
How Entrepreneurs Think Big
At first, Browning and his team were working on their entrepreneurial venture on their own – but then they started to Think Big.
“I was leery about moving to a coworking space,” Browning said. “I thought it would be very distracting, but everyone at Think Big is very focused. It’s been great for finding connections and gaining insight. Moving to Think Big has jumpstarted us again.”
Rohr also finds himself appreciative of not only the many connections he has forged at Think Big, but of the many other resources he has been able to utilize for his business.
“The connections that I've made there have been priceless,” Rohr said. “Beyond that, [Think Big] has given me great advice, helped us attract talent, challenged me where I needed improvement, and lastly made me smile. They are great people making a difference in people's lives every day and having fun while doing it. Oh, and coffee. They give me a lot of coffee.”
As a partner with Think Big, Miller loves “being able to help other entrepreneurs build companies.”
“It’s a no-brainer to me. We can build our own companies and ideas and help other people achieve that,” Miller said.
Can’t Get Enough Entrepreneurship
While the state of the economy may deter others from pursuing entrepreneurship, that was never a problem for Miller.
“I’ve always known that entrepreneurs help move the economy along,” Miller said. “Small businesses employ more people. I know I can create a difference by creating new jobs.”
According to a recent study, 59% of business owners said running a business is harder today than in previous years. Despite this, Kansas City’s entrepreneurs are reveling in the day-to-day challenges of running a startup.
“[Entrepreneurial ventures] are all tougher than you think they’re going to be,” Miller said. “But being that hard, that challenging, keeps me going. If it were easy, I probably wouldn’t do it.”
“It can be death by a thousand cuts if you let it,” Rohr said. “There are so many different hats to wear when starting the business before you can get in any sort of groove. For me, it's been all about maintaining the right balance focus and feedback.”
Despite challenges, Browning enjoys the freedom that entrepreneurship gives him. He lives by his own rules at his own pace.
“It has been a really interesting and really unique experience,” Browning said. “We’re having a blast every day. Even when it’s hard, it’s our choices we are making.”
If I Could Do It All Over Again...
When asked if he would start this whole entrepreneurial ride over again, Browning was quick to say, “In a heartbeat.”
Miller is also just as passionate about entrepreneurship as the day he opened his first lemonade stand.
“I like the freedom and always having to be creative. I will likely be involved in hundreds of ventures,” Miller said.
Ready to pursue your dreams of entrepreneurship? Contact Think Big Partners