Risk Is What Makes Entrepreneurs Different
I’m the dog who caught the car. I could step out of Push Digital today and no one would barely notice. Perhaps we wouldn’t be diversifying, planning for the future or starting new divisions, but we definitely would still be picking up huge political campaigns, servicing clients better than anyone else and winning huge races that impact the direction of our nation.
I’ve built a machine that can run without me. It took thirteen years. I didn’t sell my company to a larger one like some of my competitors. Ownership hasn’t changed hands. I didn’t take a big investment. I just took risks. A lot of risks.
I had nothing when I went out on my own. Elizabeth supported our family through her job. I had one $500 a month client. When I got up to $2,000 per month in income I hired our first full-time staffer, gave him $1500 and lived off my $500. I did that for months. When I got to $2000 again I got another staffer. Then another. Numerous times I went without a paycheck for months so that I could make payroll or pay rent.
I’ve put it all on line more times than I can remember at this point. I do remember a few things. I remember not sleeping for three nights after losing a major corporate client. I remember crying at my desk when I was stiffed $300,000 by a political client. I remember an invoicing error from Google that set us back $250,000. Each time I thought we were done. Each time I threw all my chips on the table.
Risk is what entrepreneurship is really all about. It’s hard to see. Money is easy to see. Someone is always counting your money. It’s why God told us not to covet. It’s natural. People see the new car, the new suit and the new office. They don’t see the times you could have lost it all. They don’t see when you got up from your sleepless haze and said “screw it. Lets do this.”
I’m not Elon Musk. He is a once in a generation mind. We do have one thing in common, that one thing most entrepreneurs have in common. We risked it all. That’s my biggest takeaway from this book. It’s also why I’m so frustrated by the attacks on him from people like Elizabeth Warren.
Elon wasn’t given shit. He’s the richest man in the world because he made it happen. Because he took huge risks. Power Play tells the entire story of Tesla’s founding and growth, but what really stuck out to me was how Elon almost lost it numerous times. He had to sleep on couches and on factory floors. He funded the operation with his own money and when that was gone he was living on loans from friends.
Now people are attacking him like he was handed everything, like he owes the world something beyond trying to save us from ourselves. It frustrates me because people want what Elon has without taking the risks.
It’s all about the risks. Success is all about the risks. Risk nothing, gain nothing. Risk everything and maybe, just maybe, you can have something.
Maybe not everything, but definitely something worth risking it all for.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it.