September 14, 2018

Entrepreneurship 101

Entrepreneurship 101

At Marcum, we pride ourselves on our entrepreneurial culture, as many regular readers of this blog know. That’s something we have in common with many of our clients. We’re entrepreneurs serving other entrepreneurs, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

With college students back in school, many are heading to programs designed to teach them entrepreneurship and “intrapreneurship” – being an entrepreneur within a company, as many of us strongly encourage our teams to be.

These programs often offer great classes in fundamentals like strategy, marketing, R&D and reading a balance sheet, so I’m glad they exist. You can’t know too much about practical subjects like these when you’re entering the business world. And I’m also a fan of the Shark Tank-style business plan and pitching competitions many of them hold. They’re a great place for students to put their ideas to the test, get real-world feedback from investors and expand their networks.

That said, I’m firmly in the camp that believes entrepreneurship can’t be taught. Just like being a great artist or musician, I believe you’re born thinking like an entrepreneur – or you’re not. A class on business plan writing won’t turn someone who’s risk-averse into the next Elon Musk, Mark Cuban or Sara Blakely. Being able to come up with a great idea and having the courage to act on it is in your DNA, or not. As a result, when we interview talent, I tend to pay the most attention to candidates who are already coming up with ideas and executing on them, whether they’re finishing up school or are already working – not waiting around for someone to tell them what to do. We need our associates to take the initiative so they can serve our clients best.

However, I do think entrepreneurial thinking can be cultivated. When I find someone at the Firm who’s got the spark, I’m a big believer in pouring gasoline on it. I love seeing our associates take a great idea and run with it. So we actively encourage them to talk with a leader on their team to figure out how to put it to work for us, themselves and our clients. No one’s got a corner on good ideas, and I want to make sure that great thinking never goes to waste. There are a lot of great collaborations and mentoring relationships that happen that way. More important, it is fundamental to the way we work with our clients.

With sunset coming a little earlier each day, I always feel a slight pang as I realize summer is really over. But with cooler weather coming soon, I’m looking forward to the palpable energy that comes to the streets of New York in September – it’s very motivating as we move ahead with the big plans we have in store at Marcum. I hope you’re off to a great start in meeting your goals for Q4!

Special note: By the time many of you read this column this morning, Marcum will have had the privilege of hosting Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as the featured speaker at the 2018 Marcum Women’s Forum in New York City. The theme of this year’s event is “Supporting the Climb: From the Classroom to the Boardroom to the Ballot Box.” Politics aside, however you may feel about her, HRC is an American icon, and it was a thrill and an honor for us to have her speak at our event. Thank you Madame Secretary.

Great thinking seems to be our focus today. Visit our website for information about Marcum events in your market and around the country.

P.S. I loved reading your responses to last week’s column about clients coming back to your own firms after leaving. None of us likes to lose a client but the good news is it isn’t always forever. The great part of working with entrepreneurial clients is they are flexible enough to change their minds when they realize, with 20-20 hindsight, that they’d like to return to a business relationship now that the timing is better.

And lastly, Wednesday is one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which actually starts at sundown Tuesday. For those of you that observe, may you be inscribed for another year in the Book of Life and have an easy fast.