After interviewing many, successful entrepreneurs for my book and my podcast I've realized a few things. (1) Entrepreneurs are awesome problem solvers, (2) My definition of an Accidental Entrepreneur, (3) Our definition of success changes over time and (4) My goal for the book overall. I'm sharing more on each of these in this article. Let's dig in!
Entrepreneurs are awesome problem solvers
Throughout my official book interviews as well as my previous podcast interviews with successful entrepreneurs, I've realized that we are all problem solvers. It was actually my business coach that said this:
"At the core, entrepreneurs are trying to solve a problem and they like working on a passion project versus just a paycheck. They are trying to change the world in some way." - Mike Basch
I saw this thread of problem solving throughout my interviews and I love it. I was asked once if I could spend a day in a room filled with people, who would I wanted it filled with and my answers is undoubtedly entrepreneurs. Put me in a room with other entrepreneurs and I will learn so much by asking all.the.questions.
It's no surprise I have a podcast and am now writing a book on this topic because I just love talking to other entrepreneurs and now I know why. I love to engage with people who are curious about something and then learned about that topic and really dug in. And it doesn't have to be something I know anything about but to hear someone talk about something they are passionate about and then share how they built a business around it, I'm in learning heaven!
I've also surrounded myself with other business owners who have become great friends and through this process I was able to learn even more about them than I knew before. My friend Shannon has been an entrepreneur for 25 years and has had so many different businesses!
“I've been an entrepreneur for 25 years but it's evolved over that time and so I've had many businesses. It's so interesting how it has morphed into the next thing.” - Shannon Crow
And I loved how my friend Danait shared how she has navigated the tough and bumpy road of entrepreneurship, especially when things are feeling like there is a shift happening.
“I will say that whenever I'm interested in something, or I feel a sense of like curiosity about something. I always allow myself to explore it. And it doesn't mean that I abandoned everything else, but I allowed myself to explore it.” - Danait Berhe
And I learned that my friend Cher had a business I didn't even know about! She started her first business of teaching Italian online and learned what didn't work and that allowed her second business to truly flourish and become the success that she wanted. And then she was able to revive the original business in a new way that's now profitable!
“I wanted to see if I could make it work and it didn't, it didn't go well, but it gave me a really solid foundation for what didn't work and what I would actually make a consistent income every month.” - Cher Hale
My definition of Accidental Entrepreneur
As I continued to interview people and uncover what I truly love to talk about and help people with I realized that I wasn't focused on all entrepreneurs, there was a special subset of people that I love working with and talking to.
I call this group of people, Accidental Entrepreneurs. I'm not the first person to use this phrase as it turns out but I still love it and I have my own definition. What I mean when I say Accidental Entrepreneur is this:
Anyone who ends up starting a business by following a passion and/or hobby. They didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur but rather they realized their passion or hobby could also be their career. They are generally unsure that they qualify to actually run a business because they didn’t go to business school and tend to want more education and training so they can “earn” the title. They want to create a business that integrates into their life instead of taking over it.
The reason that I ended up using this phrase is because there is a lot of information out there for entrepreneurs but not all the information resonates with everyone. For example, when I started my business there were quite a few people who were telling me that the late nights, lots of coffee and no pay for a while was the way it worked. I whole-heartedly went against this and told myself that I would not follow suit.
This didn't mean I didn't work hard or work at night sometimes but what it did mean is that my business was not going to be created at the expense of my sanity. By pushing back I found my own way of starting and running my business that worked for me. And eventually I ended up teaching this to others who resonated with this too.
While I've focused on teaching marketing to be even more niched down than just business coaching, it bleeds into all areas of business and life. So this book has allowed me to broaden my lens to more than just marketing and it's been awesome.
**This was also a podcast episode (episode #169. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.
How we define success changes over time
The main message that anchors everything in my book is that it's essential to define success for yourself. You can make money without this, you can make progress without this but it will catch up to you at some point and that point is generally when you realize you've chased someone else's definition.
How many times have you heard a super financially successful person say "I have the money but I'm miserable". That is the culmination of chasing someone else's definition of success. Maybe it's money, maybe it's material things, maybe it's time. It doesn't matter what the definition is, it only matters that you're chasing what you want.
Throughout my interviews it was really fascinating for me to see the pattern that followed each conversation. Here's how it went:
Me: "What does success feel like for you?"
Them: "Well, today it's X but that wasn't always it."
Me: "What was it before?"
Them: "Well, it started as X but then it was Y and now it's Z. It evolved over time."
Everyone, and I mean everyone, said some version of this. This revealed that while we often think success is a line in the sand and when we reach it we will be happy, that's not how it works. As Accidental Entrepreneurs, we aren't just problem-solvers, we are people who tend to strive for more. More doesn't always mean more money and it's certainly not a bad thing, it's just that we like to achieve the next thing so with that comes an evolving definition of success.
The next eye-opening moment for me was as I continued to have these conversations, I realized the pattern of how the definition evolved was clear too. Here's how it went:
Me: "What does success feel like for you?"
Them: "Well, today it's time freedom but that wasn't always it."
Me: "What was it before?"
Them: "Well, it started as money but then it was more money and now it's time freedom and flexibility. It evolved over time."
First comes the definition of success being MONEY.
Then comes the definition of success being TIME FREEDOM.
My friend and mentor, Kate Ahl, said it best. When she first started her business, this is how she described success:
“At first, there was never anything top my mind of like, what are we going to take this to? What are we going to grow this to? What are the goals? It was just a paycheck. Like, how do I make enough money to keep our heads above water?” - Kate Ahl
Then she went on to say this about how it evolved over the years from her starting as a one-woman show to now a company of more than 40 full time employees:
"I would say yes, in year one or two is to get a paycheck. That success was 'are we making money'. And then year three and four was, are we growing? Are we growing effectively and making an impact? And then I would say like 6, 7, 8 is still like, Is this set up to be a legacy and set up for not just myself, but the women who, who work for it.” - Kate Ahl
What a powerful statement that is and one that I hope hits your heart like it hit mine. I was so grateful for Kate to share her story with me and these specific definitions of success over the years. Maybe the number of years don't align the same with yours but the overall idea is probably one you can follow.
Starting Out - success is defined by money so you can pay the bills
Once You've Got Your Foundation - success is defined by growth (either personally or business)
Looking Longterm - success is defined by the legacy the business will leave behind
It was through interviews like Kate's that I became more grounded in my definition of success and also more comfortable with that definition changing over time. And I share more about this in the book so you can read others examples and I even share very tactical tips on how you can define success for yourself.
Spoiler alert: it takes time but it's totally worth it!
My goal for my book
As I continued to interview other entrepreneurs and write one word at a time for this book my goal was uncovered for me. I actually said it one day talking to someone and it stuck.
My goal for this book is for you to unapologetically chase your definition of success, no matter how it changes throughout your business journey.
I want you to uncover your confidence by understanding your definition of success, knowing what boundaries need to be in place in order for your definition to be achieved, and tapping into how you work best and the support you need at different times.
Sure I'll cover some financial tips too because you only have a business if you're making money but that's not the core piece. You are the core piece of the puzzle and without that, anyone could run the business. But we are setting out to create YOUR dream business so getting clear on your definitions is what this book is all about. And I can't wait for you to read it!
You can pre-order the book now at amandamckinney.com/book and there are lots of cool extras that come along with pre-ordering. You'll get a signed copy when it's published in June 2023 plus some other great things so be sure to check it out before the pre-sale ends on December 16th.
Until next time give yourself permission to define success for yourself and grace along the way. I'll talk to you soon!
"After interviewing many, successful entrepreneurs for my book and my podcast I've realized a few things. (1) Entrepreneurs are awesome problem solvers, (2) My definition of an Accidental Entrepreneur, (3) Our definition of success changes over time and (4) My goal for the book overall."
- Amanda McKinney
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