The Rogue Psychology of an Entrepreneur

The Rogue Psychology of an Entrepreneur

“I want people to tell me I will fail. I need to know who I am battling against. If I don’t have someone that I want to go after, then how am I going to win?”

This is a peek inside the mind of successful entrepreneur Jeremy Andrus, longtime President/CEO of Skullcandy, and now Traeger Grills.

I had the opportunity to interview Jeremy and ask what drives him. Jeremy explained that he utilizes what he calls the “rogue psychology of an entrepreneur” to propel himself and his businesses to succeed. This psychology, the blueprint for his success, has driven this former underdog to the top of the business world.

Keep a Chip on Your Shoulder

It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur. It requires tough decisions, long hours, a sharp mind, and an intense drive to succeed. This drive, while difficult to maintain, is essential to success. “You have to walk around with a chip on your shoulder,” Jeremy explained. “You need to have something to work for, like you’re an underdog.” Having a “chip on your shoulder” means that you remember rejection and negative energy from others, and you use it to fuel a desire to prove them wrong.

Rejection played an important role in the careers of many successful business icons, from Ben Franklin to Bill Gates. Like these men, Jeremy turned defeat into a burning desire for success. In 2002, he became the subject of a Bloomberg Business article describing the woes of recent business school graduates. A recent graduate of Harvard Business School, he was rejected by 21 of the 22 consulting firms where he applied, who didn’t even give him an interview.

But the way he tells it, being rejected was the best thing that ever happened to Jeremy Andrus. “I got rejected over and over,” he explained. “And I loved it. Rejection just added fuel to my fire. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience.” Jeremy didn’t quit; he regrouped. After a short stint at a management consulting firm where he spent time with Fortunate 500 clients filled with apathetic employees in endless cubicles who didn’t even know who their competitors were, he joined the entrepreneurial fight. And this time, he had a very large chip on his shoulder. Only a few years later, Jeremy led Skullcandy to a successful IPO and nearly $300 million in annual revenue.

Today, not many people tell Jeremy he can’t do something. But he still wants a chip on his shoulder to keep him motivated. So what does he do? An avid BYU football fan, Jeremy reads the Salt Lake Tribune comments section that regularly bashes the Cougars.  I don’t know if only reading Trib comments about BYU is what keeps the chip on his shoulder.  I could be wrong, but I imagine there is more he does. He takes that competitive desire with him to work and uses it to propel his company to even greater heights.

Battle the Competition

One sure way to avoid complacency is to have an enemy. Every company needs another company to go after. The tension of competition can drive your company to innovate, compete, and succeed.

“I know a guy who used to be second in command at Under Armour. He kept talking about their enemy, a company he called ‘N.’ Turns out he was talking about Nike,” Jeremy recalled. “He wouldn’t even say their name.” At Traeger, Jeremy named his Monday leadership meeting “WBR” which stands for Weekly Business Review.  “When my team walks into that room I want them to remember the goal is to be no. 1 everywhere we compete.  And if we are not no. 1, we need to pick up the tempo,” he said.  This competitive strategy is one that many other successful CEOs use and that I use in my own company.

Several years ago, when I was a department head for a certain tech company, I told my boss that I was going to leave to become an entrepreneur. He said I was too young and didn’t have enough experience to be successful. That statement burned inside of me, and I vowed to prove him wrong. I set up a similar business and got to work. Within a couple of years, I had successfully sold my business, and his had declined. I attribute my success in large part to that burning desire to succeed.

Jeremy Andrus’s philosophy on “the rogue psychology of an entrepreneur” is controversial, aggressive, and irresistible. Successful entrepreneurs use it to motivate themselves personally and instill in their companies a team spirit and a desire to crush the competition. With a chip on his shoulder and a burning desire to compete, Jeremy embodies entrepreneurial success. Just don’t tell him that.

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Why Every Entrepreneur Should Bootstrap At Least Once

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Bootstrap At Least Once.

Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss. If you feel like you are up for that, then start a company.” Elon Musk

Entrepreneurs belong to part of a select club. In terms of difficulty, some would rank being an entrepreneur right up there next to lion tamers, cliff jumpers, and chainsaw jugglers.

Bootstrapping a company from the ground up is even more difficult, requiring sacrifices that most people wouldn’t consider making. But I also believe that it’s through bootstrapping that entrepreneurs learn some of life’s most important business lessons—lessons that can’t be learned any other way.

Here are four valuable bootstrapping lessons that will set you up for entrepreneurial success.

  1. You learn to prioritize.

When money is tight and business is slow, you learn to make every dollar count.

“There’s no room to be loose with resources, with design, or with responsibilities in a bootstrapped company,” wrote Andrew Gazdecki. “As a result, a culture of discipline in many areas of the business tends to arise organically (otherwise, the company falls apart pretty quickly). So deadlines can’t be allowed to slide far, if at all, and every member of the team is held accountable for delivering their share.”

Prioritizing your resources also forces you to develop additional skill sets—because you don’t have the money to pay anyone else to do it. One of the business owners that I mentor explained it this way: “I pay employees by the hour to perform a variety of services. But if I misjudge the time it takes, then I finish the work myself to keep costs down for clients. This has forced me to become a better estimator, a better servicer provider, and a better business owner. I’ve also been forced to learn things outside of my original skill set, like accounting and software technology, to keep the business running smoothly at a low cost.”

Whether you are bootstrapping or have outside funding, prioritizing resources is something successful entrepreneurs never outgrow.

  1. You watch your cash flow like a hawk.

When every dollar is stretched to its limit, bootstrapping entrepreneurs learn to naturally watch their cash flow to keep their companies solvent and on-track.

 Tim Berry, Founder of Pala Alto Software, described it well: “We spent our own money. We never spent money we didn’t have. We never got into debt on purpose, and we didn’t go looking for other people’s money until we didn’t need it.”

No business can afford to overlook unchecked spending and unmonitored expenses. Learning to monitor expenses from day one will set you up for profitability regardless of the stage of your business.

  1. You build your network to survive.

When you are relying on your own resources, it’s common—and usually necessary—to make deals and trades with other businesses. In my early startup days, my friend Adam Clark gave me a discounted rate on Salesforce.  I could not have achieved access to that platform without the help of a trusted friend.  In another situation, in the early days of PCCareSupport, we traded radio advertising in exchange for tech support, resulting in a large, business-saving contract.

When you have realized success, pay it forward by being approachable to other entrepreneurs in need of your knowledge or expertise.

  1. You never stop selling.

One of the advantages of bootstrapping a company is that you become very adept at sales. Bootstrapping requires you to sell your concept to investors, sell a service to your customers, and sell your vision to employees. Employees in the bootstrapping days are usually underpaid and overworked yet remain because you have sold them on believing in your company. It requires a constant belief in yourself and what you are trying to accomplish. That is a passion that shouldn’t subside when the need for bootstrapping ends.

Bootstrapping your startup isn’t for the soft or easily swayed. But it is a strategy that allows you to learn skills that are difficult to acquire in any other way.  Learning to prioritize, track cash flow, network, and continuously sell create business standards that will carry you through the lean times into an enduring level of success.

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