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About the Author
Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He is a partner at JSY PR & Marketing, a full service PR & Marketing firm focused on startups, nonprofits, and professional athletes. He has over 20 years of experience bringing innovative products to market, which gives him a unique perspective on the power of story telling for businesses. Jarie has formed or been part of 6 startups in various management roles. He holds an MBA in Technology Management from UOP and a BS in Electrical Engineering from San Jose State University. He is also inventor or co-inventor on over 10 patents. He has published six books — 8 Startup Dilemmas All Founder Will Face, The Entrepreneur Ethos, 7 PR Secrets All Founders Should Know, #Endurance Tweet, Frustration Free Technical Management, and Business Basics for Entrepreneurs. You can follow him on Twitter @TheDailyMBA.

The Key to Success is Community: Here’s How to Help it Thrive

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As a society, we’re obsessed with understanding how entrepreneurs succeed. Just look at how entrepreneur stories are reported.

 

Is there a secret formula? A foolproof morning routine? A tried-and-true strategy that just can’t fail?

 

My 20-plus-year, six-company entrepreneurship journey has given me plenty of food for thought about what traits, values, and beliefs help successful entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they face. I’ve seen a lot of success and failure along the way, in my own businesses and in the businesses around me.

 

The formulas, morning routines, strategies, and tactics I’ve seen lead to success are all over the map, but there is a real secret sauce to being a successful entrepreneur.

 

It’s in helping build the strength and diversity of the entrepreneurial community around you.

 

A collaborative community

 

Recently, I was listening to the Unemployable with Brian Clark podcast. He was talking to a filmmaker about collaboration in the film industry. Sure, you have a director heading the film up. But at its core a film is made when a group of experts in their field come together, build something great, then go their separate ways.

 

That’s the entrepreneurship model, too.

 

It’s collaborative, it’s collective. It draws on diverse skill sets, and no entrepreneur can do it alone. You need community, whether you're sitting down in the same room to work on a business idea with other entrepreneurs, or building relationships with people you can go to with questions about a variety of topics (product development, marketing, procuring funding, etc.).

 

And the more diverse that community is, the more powerful your outcome will be.

 

Most entrepreneurs start their own business because they don’t want to work for someone else, but that doesn’t mean that we need to go it alone. We have mentors, colleagues, friends, investors, and employees we can rely on. We have a global community of other entrepreneurs we can collaborate with.

 

If we want to succeed as entrepreneurs – on an individual level and as a society –we need to nurture the health of that community by making it as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

 

We need an ethos.

 

The Entrepreneur’s Ethos

 

Ethics are essentially the minimum bar you have to hit to be a good member of the community. An ethos elevates that bar by outlining the pinnacle of what it means to be a shining example in the community. Ethics are prescriptive. An ethos is inspirational and aspirational.

 

An ethos is about aiming for a higher level and building a community that is truly inclusive, welcoming, and uplifting to every member.

 

Ethics says, look, we hired a certain number of women and minorities for our tech startup. Ethos says, how can we build our company so that by its very nature it uplifts and empowers everyone?

 

As entrepreneurs, our ethos must be the guide star for how we approach failure, integrity, decision-making, and the overall journey of entrepreneurship.

 

Living the Ethos

 

I tried to codify the ethos of entrepreneurship in my book, The Entrepreneur Ethos. The Ethos has five distinct points, but it’s the last one that I think is the most important: “Being an entrepreneur is an honor I must earn daily.”

 

Being an entrepreneur is an honor. After all, in what other job in the world do people just say, “Go make something that never existed before. Figure out if anybody wants to buy it, then work on it. If it does okay, great, if it fails, go do something else. All right – get after it!”

 

When we spend each day earning the privilege of being an entrepreneur, it keeps us humble and hungry. It helps us build things the world needs. It enables us to make a dent in the universe. It staves off stagnation, because when you’re humble and hungry, your company is more likely to succeed. And it keeps us focused on building the thing that will help us succeed the most: a strong community.

 

If the key to success is community, let’s build the best one we can. Investing in creating a resilient entrepreneur community – a community that unifies the world – not only helps you thrive, it helps others thrive.

 

A resilient community is built on integrity. Design your companies so that everyone has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of gender, race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Ensure that every aspect of your business uplifts and empowers all people.

 

A resilient community paves the way for the next generation. Volunteer at start-up incubators. Offer your help to those around you and seek out people in your local community to connect with and mentor.

 

A resilient community is rich with diversity. Reach out to the marginalized communities around you and find ways to uplift them and remove barriers. Listen to diverse voices and learn from their experiences.

 

One of my favorite things to do is to go into a school to talk with kids from marginalized communities who don’t know that entrepreneurship is an option. I love showing them that they can do this too if they simply see an opportunity and seize it.

 

The best thing about being an entrepreneur is that it’s a universal honor. Of course, there are still systemic barriers to entry. But, together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive community that not only supports our own entrepreneurial efforts; it increases the diversity of ideas in the world and opens up a universe of possibilities.

 

And when we do that, I believe the entire world will be better for it.