Common Entrepreneurial Mistakes




Being an entrepreneur is not necessarily easy, and many people that try to become entrepreneurs wind up failing. It’s important to recognize the risk of failure before you decide to walk down this path. Being an entrepreneur is very rewarding, and you can find success if you can do things right.

Keep reading to learn about common entrepreneurial mistakes that you can avoid to give yourself a better chance of realizing your entrepreneurial goals. 


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Colleague Peter R. Quinones and Per Bylund return to the show to talk about the role of the entrepreneur not only in society, but according to the Austrian School of Economics. Medical perspectives are implied.


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Professor V. Entrepreneur

Teaching / Educating

Bill Hennessey, M.D.

CEO at Pratter, Inc.

As a teacher educating is your job. It’s what you enjoy. There’s a fairly lax time schedule and resources are already built in the equation. Little accountability because the ultimate burden and measure of success is placed on the student to pass a test. If they don’t do well, it’s the student not directly the teacher who pays the price.

Now, I work with first year students who don’t know what a red blood cell looks like (biconcave disc, you thought I forgot, didn’t you) all the way to a chief resident who can probably do some surgeries better than me. It’s my job to take that first year student and turn them into a chief resident.

As an entrepreneur with limited resources, time, and energy, you don’t have the luxury to continuously teach, develop, and convince. You need people who simply get it especially in strategic positions. You don’t have the luxury of time or resources. You also are directly accountable if they don’t understand because you have a burn rate that probably just got worse. So how much “oxygen” do you allocate when trying to build your team?

Different story for Apple, Boeing and others that can create academies and educational tracks to teach and develop internally.

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated

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One of the greatest things about the virtual economy is the expanded opportunity for people to branch out on their own and create something using their own expertise. Related to this is the growing societal desire to have more free time and a more balanced, efficient life overall. 

In fact, years ago when I was in business school, I learned that during a recession when jobs were sparse – folks would either go back to school to re-engineer and re-educate OR start their own business.

Today – If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need to be able to pivot when circumstances call for it. In the years ahead, there will be a premium on flexibility, portability, and improvisation; knowing how to earn income outside the traditional employer-employee relationship will continue to be an especially valuable skill. 


ASSESSMENT: So, if you are a physician, nurse, medical professional or financial advisor in the healthcare space, think about what you’re naturally good at (or at least interested in), and determine if there’s an opportunity to monetize it in some way on your own. Your career might thank you for it!

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

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Deep Tech Startups


By Dr. Jeffery Funk,

All 12 Ex-Unicorn Deep Tech startups are unprofitable and another 20 privately-held #Unicorns appear to be far from profitability.

These 32 include biotech/health (12), AI/Big Data (8), sensors/AVs (4), wearables (3), satellites/space (2), and one for 3D printing, storage, and fuel cells. Of ex-Unicorns, 10 have losses greater than 30% of revenues.

Why are these #deeptech #startups so unprofitable?

My conclusion is fewer #breakthrough #technologies are coming out than decades before and ones coming out are taking longer to successfully commercialize. #AI/#BigData, sensors/#AVs, wearables, satellites, 3D printing, and fuel cells have all been over-hyped, their costs and performance are still disappointing, and their diffusion continues to be slow.

Overall, a successful example of a breakthrough #technology is hard to find since iPhone was introduced in 2007, other than OLEDs and solar cells. Yes AI, #EVs, drones, VR, AR, and IoT are diffusing and thus an analysis in 10 years might come to different conclusions, but for 2010s, there was little to commercialize. #innovation #ipo #ipos #venturecapital #vcs #vc



An Entrepreneurial Mindset Can Hinder Wealth Building

“Help Wanted: Entrepreneur”


You have probably never seen an ad like this, because entrepreneurs are not hired. They hire themselves. Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

God bless entrepreneurs. Without them our world would look much different. We would probably still be living in caves, hunting with clubs, and eating raw meat. They create companies from scratch. In so doing, they create jobs and take significant monetary risks of a business failure.

They also stand to gain substantial rewards for success, but that success is far from guaranteed. Few people realize that most entrepreneurs fail in their attempts in business. According to Investopedia, 50% of all new businesses fail in 5 years, 66% in 10 years, and 75%  in 15 years.

Given those statistics, the entrepreneurs who succeed must be rich, right? A study by Career Explorer found that the average full-time salary of an entrepreneur is $43,240 a year. To put this into perspective, the average starting salary for a graduating four-year degree student at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is $63,354. Maybe there should be a song, “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be entrepreneurs.”

My experience, however, is that it really doesn’t matter what Mama says. The entrepreneurial mindset is somewhat inextinguishable. While there have been some attempts at teaching entrepreneurial skills, it’s hard to teach grit, determination, and perseverance, coupled with a good dose of fantasy thinking and denial. It’s really hard to “tell” an entrepreneur anything.

Fittingly, entrepreneurs love to invest in their own companies. Investment advisors call such holdings “tangible” investments, ones you can see and touch. Tangible investments include start-up businesses, family-owned businesses, and all types of directly owned real estate. They are inherently non-diversified and illiquid. Typically, entrepreneurs have the vast portion of their net worth tied up in their businesses. It’s incredibly rare to find one with a stash of cash or any type of liquid portfolio or retirement plan.

Why? The entrepreneurial mindset. First, entrepreneurs don’t believe in traditional diversification. Why settle for earning an average of 5% a year when you can earn ten times that in your business? Never mind that the chance of losing it all is three to one. Most entrepreneurs firmly believe they are the one guaranteed to succeed even though the deck is stacked against them.

Second is that since 75% of businesses ultimately fail, most entrepreneurs are losing, not making, money. They are perennially cash-poor and need every dollar they can find to fund their negative cash flows. Even those who are making money rarely have any liquid investments because entrepreneurs are always looking for new ventures, which of course, need funding.

One of the most difficult tasks I face is persuading a successful entrepreneur to take some hard-earned “chips” off the table and sock away a low-risk, diversified nest egg to assure a comfortable retirement. The only ones I’ve convinced to do that were older entrepreneurs who had owned their companies for well over 15 years and were under five years from retirement. All the younger entrepreneurs to whom I have given that advice have refused the notion. All have eventually lost 75% to 90% of their net worth and, sadly, the opportunity to secure their future.

The entrepreneurial mindset of determination and perseverance can bring significant financial rewards. Expanding that mindset to include a broader, more diversified view of investing for the future can turn those rewards into long-term financial independence.

Assessment: Your thoughts are appreciated.


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David Cummings on Startups

Back in college I’d routinely jump in my old Jeep Wrangler and make the 10 mile drive down the Durham Freeway to RTP for events and programs at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED). CED bills itself as “the network that helps Triangle entrepreneurs build successful companies” and has 700+ member companies with 4,000 members. In Atlanta, we have a number of strong entrepreneurial non-profits:

Only, we don’t have a central entrepreneur organization that encompasses both tech and non-tech startups. As expected, there are a tremendous number of non-tech entrepreneurs in town. EO has a strong Atlanta chapter with over 100 members, but that’s limited to companies with at least $1 million in revenue. Where do non-tech entrepreneurs go?

Last week I had the chance to learn…

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Ratio of [Start-Up] Deals Reviewed to Investments [Ultimately] Made

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David Cummings on Startups

Recently, I was reading the limited partner quarterly updates for a fund where I’m an investor. In the update, the author highlighted that the fund had reviewed 1,000 potential deals last year and invested in four companies. At a ratio of 250:1, it’s clear that there are many more startups trying to raise a Series A than there are Series A investments (see the Series A crunch talked about four years ago).

Here’s how the investment process might work at a venture fund:

  • 250 deals reviewed
  • 25 one-on-one pitches (where the entrepreneur pitches a single partner)
  • 5 full partner pitches (where all the partners hear the pitch)
  • 2 term sheets
  • 1 investment

Raising money is much harder than most entrepreneurs expect. With funds seeing so many opportunities, but only being able to invest in 1-2 companies per year per investor, it’s clear that most entrepreneurs will feel rejected when out raising…

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