Entrepreneur tells others how to achieve success

Entrepreneur tells others how to achieve success


Posted on Mon, Oct. 22, 2007 10:15 PM
By HUMA KHAN / Special to The Kansas City Star

Everyone — not just business owners — can and should be an
entrepreneur, according to Neal Sharma, founder and chief executive of
the Overland Park-based Digital Evolution Group.

Being an entrepreneur versus an employee is simply a matter of
choice, said Sharma, 31, who started his e-consultancy in 1999 with
Dale Hazlett when they were graduate students at the University of Kansas.

“That choice is rooted in fear and business illiteracy,” he said
last week as the guest speaker in the 2007 Entrepreneur Speakers
Program Series at Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus PC. “If you can overcome that, you can drive your own car, party till you drop and build a building based on your beliefs.”

Sharma outlined his reasoning to about 40 people who attended the event, sponsored by the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Never trust your destiny to the business acumen of someone else,”
Sharma said. “In my business, my partners and I drive the car.”

Entrepreneurs, he said, must decide how they are going to steer the car and mitigate risks.

For example, even though Sharma and his partners initially spent
hours designing creative software tools, they realized that focusing on
consulting services was more profitable. With the capital raised by
focusing on one aspect, they were then able to expand their services.
Digital Evolution, now a $2.7 million firm, has recorded double-digit
growth since its inception.

Another reason for pursuing an entrepreneur focus, he said, is that
there is “no end to the party.” An employee’s salary may reach a
ceiling, but an entrepreneurial venture can catapult to $30 million or
$350 million. Entrepreneurs are limited only by their own potential,
Sharma said.

He likened being an entrepreneur to building a cathedral. Since
people spend their work life laying bricks to construct a building, so
to speak, why not build one that is an embodiment of one’s beliefs,
convictions and morals?

Employees can also drive the car, hold a never-ending party and
build a cathedral, Sharma said, if they are part of an entrepreneurial
venture that allows them to grow. He said the 30 employees at his firm
have the opportunity to drive the car relative to their amount of risk
in the company.

Sharma, who started Digital Evolution with $300,000 raised from four
angel investors, said the average employee does not take any less risk
than an entrepreneur. In fact, he said, employees are bound to others’
decisions and have to worry about issues such as health care and taxes.

“What you are thinking about is how am I going to happen to the world tomorrow, not what’s going to happen to me,” he said.

The biggest challenge for Digital Evolution was being distracted by
its own creativity, Sharma said, noting the importance of focusing on a
narrow set of goals before spending capital on other services or
products.

Sharma outlined three things necessary to start a business:
intellectual capital, which he described as processes in systems, not
people; financial capital; and relationship capital.

“If you understand that your reputation is your greatest asset, then you understand that relationship is important,” he said.

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