Thanksgiving Tips: 9 Great Business Skills Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Pilgrims

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Alan E. Hall and published by Forbes magazine. To read the complete article, check out a wealth of free resources, obtain subscription discount information, and sign up for free email alerts, please click here.

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This month we celebrate Thanksgiving across America, a time to focus on the gratitude we feel for the innumerable blessings we enjoy as citizens of this great nation and for those early settlers whose entrepreneurial spirit laid the groundwork for its creation.

We can learn much about effective business from the example and the legacy of the New England pioneers

As we all learned in school, the first Thanksgiving was held in October 1621, less than a year after the 102 Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower. About half were religious dissenters with the other half considered entrepreneurs willing to start fresh in the New World. While I might be playing loosely with the definition of “entrepreneur,” I’d consider them all entrepreneurs in some form, as each one took considerable initiative and risk in their voyage to America.

While nearly half died during the first harsh winter, the survivors built a self-sufficient economy within a few years. This took some definite entrepreneurial behavior. Let’s look at this behavior and see how we, as modern-day entrepreneurs, can benefit today.

[Here are the first three of nine. To read the complete article, please click here.]

Take Risks: The Pilgrims took a huge risk: they left their homes, got on a ship with few belongings, and set sail for the New World with little idea as to what would happen to them when they got there – if they got there at all. While we might never take a chance as big as that one, every new business comes with significant risk. Did you quit a full-time job? Risk. Bootstrap your business with credit cards maxed to the limit? Risk. Hire family members to cut costs? Huge risk. Bet the bank on a previous successful entrepreneur with potential in hopes of leveraging his/her expertise, no matter the costs? More risk. But for your business to succeed, you’ve got to take some risk.

Sacrifice: As I wrote in another column in June, “Starting a Business Requires Sacrifice,” sacrifice is a key characteristic 
of successful entrepreneurs. It was also a key characteristic of the early Pilgrims. They sacrificed their homes, relationships with extended family members, money they would have earned in their jobs back home, or in worst cases, their own lives or those of their children. They believed in what they were doing and prayed that they’d be successful.

Starting any new venture requires sacrifice. At the beginning, we sacrifice full-time wages, time with our families and very often a good night’s sleep. But as William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth Colony, once said: “All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.”

Set Goals: 
No matter their reason for traveling to the New World, someone had to make plans and set goals for success. Writing down the goals – and referring to them often – is critical to reaching them. The same goes for starting any business.

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Grow America founder Alan E. Hall has a personal mission to create jobs and lift local economies. Grow America, a national company, aligns the partners, mentors and capital that entrepreneurs need to create and grow tomorrow’s successful companies.

Hall is also a founder and managing director of Mercato Partners, a top-performing growth equity venture capital fund. Its focus is to invest in high-growth technology companies that need additional funding and expertise in marketing and sales. Current portfolio companies include: Skullcandy, Fusion-io, Control4, Cymphonix, Mediconnect, CradlePoint and Stance.

Hall is also the founder, chairman and former CEO of MarketStar Corporation, a global outsourced marketing and sales company with a focus on assisting high technology companies increase sales through the small to medium business sectors. The company employs several thousand employees and generates billions of dollars in sales for its marquee clientele, including Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Sony, Intel, and Verizon. MarketStar is owned by Omnicom Group (OMC).

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