Saturday, February 11, 2006

What Entrepreneurs Want, part 3

Some of my posts mentioning the solitude and problems of entrepreneurs - especially the lack of peer contact - might make you conclude that these are needy and vulnerable people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Entrepreneurs crave respect and understanding like everyone else, but they can go without both for long periods of time, driven by their vision and their instincts for the best way of serving their niche.

But once in a while, they like to be stroked and to have their work confirmed by others.

This was reaffirmed for me again yesterday in two e-mails I received in response to a speech I gave Wednesday night on Lessons from Canada's Emerging Growth Companies (click here for a summary). My presentation to a group called Future Leaders involved analyzing some of the trends in entrepreneurial growth (as divined from PROFIT Magazine's PROFIT 100 research) and documenting some of the unique tactics and strategies that have fuelled their success.

My goal with such presentations is to show entrepreneurs how other companies are striving and succeeding, and give them specific tactics they can put into practice right away. But sometimes I forget how important it is just to be heard talking about success in tough times.

Here's a snippet from one of the unsolicited e-mails I received the other day:

"Just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that I really enjoyed your presentation... It was extremely interesting and inspirational."

You might think that entrepreneurs would be the last people to need inspiration. But you'd be wrong.

The other e-mail:

"Thanks for the speech on Wednesday. Some days any encouragement is appreciated. As a manufacturing guy, I really appreciated that I’m not the only one in this province who still thinks making stuff is a good business and finding that you can still manufacture and make the hot [PROFIT 100] list is nice ... despite the money guys telling everyone out there that manufacturing in Ontario is dead and the dumbest possible thing you can do."

I don't believe entrepreneurs are generally insecure. But if they're to put all their energy and resources into a business venture, they certainly need a strong dose of confidence. And confidence is a fragile thing.

Marketer's Takeaway: You can't go wrong by celebrating the instincts and accomplishments of entrepreneurs. It doesn't have to be the major theme of your conversation with this market, but it must underlie everything you say and do.

As the writer said, "Some days any encouragement is appreciated."

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