No one could be a better natural candidate for an entrepreneurial life style than Steve Christensen. Steve is a close friend of mine that I have known for the majority of my life. If you had the chance to sit down and talk with him, you would recognize immediately that he is not a conventional thinker. A natural risk taker in every aspect of his life, he is a fanatic of extreme sports because of their emphasis on continual progression. His mind has been and forever will be focused on the possibilities of the future. Steve has a shaved head, with fiery blue eyes that ooze confidence. When he talks to you, he will look you straight in the eye for the entire conversation, showing that this is who he is and there is nothing for him to hide. He has the fabled ‘Silver Tongue’, which is the ability to win you over with his charisma in seconds.
Steve is willing to admit that he never thought that one day he would be CEO of his own watch company. Two years ago he was studying at the University of Baltimore, planning on getting into the corporate world of real estate. “What was it that changed your life plan?” I asked. He explained to me that in 2009 he went out to buy a watch, and after weeks and weeks of searching he realized that what he was looking for was not on the market. As an avid fan and participant of action sports, he wanted a watch that could be a symbol of progression. He was searching for a watch that could represent the aspects of his life, which defined him. After searching, Steve believed that he had found an opportunity in the market to design watches to appeal to that specific group of people. After talking it over with his wife, Steve decided that he would leave his old dreams of corporate real estate behind and would pursue this opportunity, which since has since become NOVO watch.
“The fear of failure is what I believe to be the biggest deterrent for ordinary people to attempt an entrepreneurial venture.” Steve explained to me, “As an entrepreneur, you are walking a tight rope into uncharted waters and there isn’t a financial safety net provided for you if you fall like in other professions.” As I talked with Steve, I realized that he was not at all afraid of the term ‘failure’. His eyes grew wide with excitement every time the word risk was mentioned in the conversation. I asked Steve what was the key to overcoming the barrier of fear. He adjusted his black beanie that he was wearing as he articulated his answer for me. He told me that failure is ‘overhyped’, and is not as crippling to an entrepreneur as one might think. He began telling me that he in fact owes a lot of his current success to his past failures. “As long as you begin with the end in mind, the mistakes you make along the way will not matter.” I then asked him how an entrepreneur should respond to failure; his reply was never taking your eye off of your goal. He used the metaphor of Peter in the New Testament as he began to walk on water, but when he let his fear overcome his faith, he sank. Entrepreneurs can learn a lesson from the apostle Peter. Never let fear overcome your passion.
Often times people are so consumed by the fear of failure they never even consider the steps that could be taken to be a success. Everybody is born with unique skill sets and abilities that could help or hurt them in an entrepreneurial setting, but is there a formula for success that an ordinary person can put into practice? I asked Steve what he considered the most important factors to running a successful business venture and he gave me his personal formula for success. Steve believes that the combination of confidence, education, and surrounding yourself with the right people can turn any person into a successful entrepreneur.
Education can empower you to face all of the challenges that come with running a business. As well, having a college degree will give you more confidence in yourself and allow you to take more risks in your business. You have the assurance that if your business fails, you have the credentials to find work elsewhere. Steve explained, “With my degree, I can now take all sorts of risks because I know if the business goes under, I will still be able to provide for my family”. Steve also explains that in school you learn to manage time, set goals, and properly analyze. This will train you to look at all of the angles of your idea, which helps in your planning and goal setting.
Confidence is necessary because once you decide to pursue your idea you can never look back. Second guessing yourself and doubt is the Achilles heel of most first time entrepreneurs. Steve told me “If you have a goal, and you personally believe it is achievable; nothing else should matter. Don’t let others tell you what your limitations are”.
Steve at the end of the interview told me that the most important piece of advice he could give to young entrepreneurs to do is surround themselves with the right people. “If you surround yourself with other motivated people who share your vision, you are capable of having incredible results. If you surround yourself with people who don’t necessarily see eye to eye, or are focused on changing or controlling your dream, it can be the death of your idea.” Steve explained that young entrepreneurs are easily influenced by whom they surround themselves with. This is the reason why the group of people an entrepreneur chooses to work with is so crucial to their long-term success.