Thursday, August 22, 2019

Lance McNeill, MBA, MPAff, Author ofThe Resilient Entrepreneur: The Methods and Mindset to Help You Succeed on Your Entrepreneurial Journey

Lance McNeill, Entrepreneur, resilient, resilience, small business, the resilient entrepreneur, entrepreneurial journey, business book
Today we are interviewing Lance McNeill, MBA, MPAff about his business book “The Resilient Entrepreneur: The Methods and Mindset to Help You Succeed on Your Entrepreneurial Journey.”

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Born and raised a Texan, Lance McNeill wears many hats. An entrepreneur, a teacher, a coach, and a father; he is also a published author. There is no stop with Lance. Whether it was during his time in the Peace Corps in Namibia or teaching at Austin’s Community College he is constantly seeking new challenges, while trying to inspire new entrepreneurs. He holds dual master’s degrees in both business administration and public affairs. 

Lance currently works for the City of Austin’s Small Business Program. When he manages to find the time, he enjoys vacationing with his wife and daughter in the mountains or jamming out on the guitar. Lance’s passion for self-improvement is contagious, often inspiring those around him. 
Lance has written several books and continues to build his reputation with each new release. His latest book, the Resilient Entrepreneur is now available on Amazon and other retail sites. To find out more about Lance and his remarkable career you can follow him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lancejmcneill/

Describe your book, “The Resilient Entrepreneur: The Methods and Mindset to Help You Succeed on Your Entrepreneurial Journey,” in a few sentences.
What factors help a burgeoning entrepreneur move forward and persevere through the hardships of the startup phase? Why do some entrepreneurs get stuck in the idea stage, while others are able to successfully implement their idea and grow their business? Why do serial entrepreneurs continue to start new businesses even after experiencing one failure after another? What helps existing small business owners weather the storms and bounce back from setbacks? These are some of the questions we explore in the Resilient Entrepreneur.
Resiliency, like entrepreneurship, is a learnable process. It is comprised of three main phases:

1. The adverse experience and absorption of its resulting effects
2. A period of rehabilitation and regeneration
3. Reflection on the meaning of the adversity and lessons learned

Looking at how people navigate these phases, we explore frameworks for better understanding entrepreneurial resilience in terms of emotional, cognitive, and social resources we need to persevere. The practical tools and methods outlined in this book equip new entrepreneurs with the knowledge and confidence they need to take the bold leap of becoming an entrepreneur.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
This book is written for the early stage entrepreneur and small business owner, regardless of industry. This book is designed to help them on the early and most turbulent stages of the startup journey. 

What inspired you to write a book to help new entrepreneurs move through the hardships of starting a company?
I’ve been teaching entrepreneurship at the local community college for a few years now and I noticed that my students had the same hesitations around making the leap from working 9 to 5 to becoming their own boss. They cited fear and anxiety about moving forward on an unknown path without support. I wanted this book to give them confidence that they can do it – many have before them and there are so many resources that will help them along the way.

What are some common mistakes new entrepreneurs make?
In my book I talk about a concept I call serial ideation. Plenty of aspiring entrepreneurs never get past the idea stage. When the entrepreneurial journey starts to get a little bumpy, they take the first exit ramp they see. Later they’ll come up with another idea that they will fall in and out of love with all over again. I call the aspiring entrepreneurs stuck in this loop, serial ideators. They’re the window shoppers of entrepreneurship. They adopt and abandon one idea after another without ever moving beyond the idea phase.

Entrepreneurship is hard and can be intimidating. The idea of entrepreneurship can be enticing, but starting a business is a huge investment of time, energy and resources, and the investment is a risky one. It’s estimated that at least 50 percent of all new businesses fail within five years of their inception.274 Other studies estimate that six years after discovering an entrepreneurial idea, approximately 66 percent of aspiring entrepreneurs either give up on entrepreneurship altogether or are still stuck spinning their wheels in the idea or startup stage.i; Kellogg School of Management Professor, Steven Rogers, says that the average entrepreneur fails about four times before succeeding.ii; If we measured entrepreneurial success using the traditional return on investment (ROI) calculation used by large corporations, 95 percent of all startups would fail to produce an acceptable financial return in a reasonable timeframe.iii 

What does that mean though – that their business failed?
A failure in business often means that you gave up and quit or you were unable or unwilling to learn and pivot in a new direction. In fact, not pivoting quickly enough away from a suboptimal decision (misaligned product-market fit, poor hiring, etc.) was cited as one of the top reasons why startups dissolve.iv 

Yet, despite the high failure rate, the path of entrepreneurship can be exciting and liberating, and for many, a journey worth pursuing. Entrepreneurs get the unique opportunity to blaze their own path – to write their story of self with a sense of control and ownership that few other professional endeavors allow. Despite the high failure rates, there are still millions of entrepreneurs who have found a path to success.

Resiliency is the main theme of your book. How difficult is resiliency to learn? What are some of the steps that new entrepreneurs must take to become more resilient?
Resilience is something we can learn and measure. We can become “conditioned to cope”. For example, let’s look at how helpful support networks and resources make us more resilient. Of all the research on resilience, the most consistent finding is the relationship between the number of high-quality relationships in our lives and our ability to overcome adversity.  

Immigrant communities are a great example, as they regularly access diaspora and familial networks to support one another’s entrepreneurial endeavors.12 Research conducted by Dr. Rocio Rosales, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California Irvine, highlights one such community in Los Angeles. Dr. Rosales estimates that there are more than 1,000 fruit vendors or fruteros operating in Los Angeles County - many of them self-employed immigrants. 

These fruteros often operate their businesses illegally because local permitting regulations and ordinances restrict their commerce due to concerns about health, public safety, and the right of way. Setting aside the various policy debates about immigration and local permitting regulations, what intrigued me most about these entrepreneurs is how they came together to overcome their shared challenges. Dr. Rosales refers to their coping mechanisms as survival strategies.

Ricardo is one of the fruteros she discusses in her study. When Ricardo’s fruit cart was seized by the local health department regulators, he borrowed $1,000 from his cousin to purchase a new one. This new cart was again seized about two weeks later, and again his cousin lent him the money to purchase a new one. When this cart too was eventually seized, the same cousin who lent Ricardo money twice, hired him as an employee in his own business. While working to pay off his debt, Ricardo moved in with his cousins to save on rent and other living expenses. The responsive support offered to Ricardo is typical of many immigrant communities. We can learn from Ricardo’s resilience by identifying our own support networks that we can call on during times of need.

What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
Your entrepreneurial journey will often begin with the recognition of a challenge or opportunity followed by an idea about how to solve it. The idea emerges in your mind and you begin to pursue an implementation plan. You initially set off on this quest alone – one person with a grand vision. 

The challenge is this journey is new to you and the outcome is unpredictable. That novelty and unpredictability, according to Dr. Sonia Lupien, Director of the Center for Studies on Human Stress, are two prominent drivers that can lead to toxic stress.  Higher levels of resiliency are required to cope with the stress of starting a new venture.

Entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful when they’ve built up resiliency to face the obstacles and adversity that comes with starting a business. It’s those entrepreneurs that are more quickly and frequently able to access supportive resources and implement the techniques laid out in this book that will be more resilient.

One of the strengths of your book is you break down entrepreneurial resilience in an easy-to-understand framework. Was it challenging to write about such a complex topic in an approachable, concise manner?
This is a really interesting question. When the idea for this book first started emerging, I saw some meaningful connections between resilience and entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until I dove deep into the research that I learned just how critical the concept of resilience is in business startups. The more I read and researched the topic of resilience, the easier it became to see those connections clearly and the roadmap for the book sort of emerged from there.

Are there any entrepreneurs who stand out as a good example of entrepreneurial resilience?
When we think about untiring, persistent entrepreneurs, who comes to mind? We might typically think of the all-stars of entrepreneurship: Elon Musk, Sara Blakely, Steve Jobs, Lori Greiner, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, etc. Yet, there are so many more and in my book I share anecdotes from these superstar entrepreneurs as well as inspiring stories from entrepreneurs who you’ve probably never heard of.

More Information

i. Reynolds, PD. Entrepreneurship in the United States: The Future is Now. New York. Springer. 2007.
ii. Maxwell, John. C; Wooden, John. Sometimes You Win - - Sometimes you Learn: Life’s Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses. Center Street. 1 Sep. 2015.
iii. Gage, Deborah. "The venture capital secret: 3 out of 4 start-ups fail." Wall Street Journal 20 (2012).
iv. CBInsights. Top 20 Reasons Why Startups Fail. https://www.cbinsights.com/reports/The-20-Reasons-Startups-Fail.pdf?utm_campaign=Report%20-%20Content%20Emails&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_UAWhs4peZ1801pJOxPYX6MnCm0A7FO-jTZtpoVeMAY1za7xPTN1NzFFOIaJZ89K9ZNJWHj9xLZr-a__j3r8yNhYZgD9pOjOFplpFa6MgcZYDXCKc&_hsmi=24695183&utm_content=24695183&utm_source=hs_automation&hsCtaTracking=61ab122e-019b-4f59-8699-c9c960ead242%7Cfed300a8-9488-4239-92b3-bb641191e0d0

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