Word Count: 975
Est. Time to Read: 5 mins.

We have all heard it before. That sage wisdom offered by so many: “Get your head straight first.” “It’s what’s in your head that counts.” “Think first, then act.” “It’s a mind game.” – and so on.

In the world of small business building and entrepreneurialism, those words ring true.

As part of North Carolina’s Small Business Center Network, I have the opportunity to meet and assist many in our community who are working to start their own businesses. I hear many ideas from many different people…some ideas are simply different, some are new and creative, while still others take a new twist on an existing product or service.

When working with budding entrepreneurs, predictable questions always arise. “What do I need to do to make sure my business works?’ “How much money do I need for my business”, etc. While all questions are good because they express realistic concerns from these business-builders, it just may be that the right questions are not being asked.

This past December I had the opportunity to participate in an Entrepreneurship program called Ice House sponsored by NC Idea, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting entrepreneurship throughout our state. Ice House identified characteristics that many entrepreneurs share. Contrary to the thoughts of many, it is not having a rich uncle providing start-up funding that is the most important trait. It is creating for oneself, the proper mindset.

What is the Ice House? The Ice House was the business Clifton Taulbert’s uncle owned in Mississippi in the late 1950’s, providing ice to farms and homes in the area. Clifton worked for his Uncle Cleve, learning life lessons and gaining business experience which led to his own successful business career and meeting entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger, with whom he collaborated with on the Ice House training program and a book titled Who Owns the Ice House?.

Most people think entrepreneurs are born with a special trait…or born into a large bank account. Schoeniger and Taulbert disagree with this notion, and explain that the keys to being a successful entrepreneur include developing the right mindset and building key skills that don’t require a ton of capital (but do require a great deal of practice).

Being an entrepreneur is not an outcome of good fortune or good luck, though both may play a part in the eventual success of a venture. Being “entrepreneurial” is a journey…often long and with twists and turns, requiring more hard work than initially expected, where the eventual outcome or goal is, at best, murky.

The “mindset” of an entrepreneur, while difficult to define, is the key. Positioning oneself with the requisite skills, the unique personality and the “restlessness” needed to pursue “value” in whatever they do can take one a long distance on that journey toward entrepreneurialism.

Jeffrey Neuville, Senior Director
Small Business Center
Catawba Valley Community College

The Ice House program is available to NC residents with sessions being held throughout the state. If you have the opportunity, it is time well spent. Visit the NC Idea website for more information.

Also available are the resources of the Small Business Center, associated with Catawba Valley Community College. Visit sbc.cvcc.edu, or email Jeff at jneuville@cvcc.edu)