If you cover the entrepreneurial beat for nearly 30 years – as former Entrepreneur Magazine editorial director Rieva Lesonsky has done – you learn this: Successful entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of the impossible. In fact, overcoming the impossible may be an entrepreneur’s primary talent.
How so? Entrepreneurs find opportunity in doing what others can’t – or won’t. Before Fred Smith made FedEx overnight service a new delivery standard, the United States Postal Service didn’t see the hurry. Deliver a package in less than 24 hours? Impossible. Yet, an upstart company couldn’t take on the USPS by doing exactly what was already being done. They had to do the impossible to make a go.
Similarly, every successful entrepreneur has stories – about the time the assembly line caught fire, an employee made off with half the inventory or Wal-Mart moved in next door. If entrepreneurs didn’t thrive on tackling the impossible, they’d never go on.
Sound familiar? For credit unions that have struggled through recent times, it might.
As a long-time advocate for entrepreneurship – and now an entrepreneur herself – Lesonsky “gets” the current dilemmas that credit unions are facing. Revenue is a challenge; the economy’s stuck; budgeting requirements nearly boggle the mind. What she doesn’t “get” is the paralysis some credit unions are experiencing.
“It’s not that I don’t see the difficulties involved,” says Lesonsky. “It’s that difficulty is such an inherent part of running a business. Business face ‘impossible’ challenges every day – not just from Uncle Sam, but from ever-changing markets, consumer tastes and technological advances.”
Lesonsky urges credit unions to play up their entrepreneurial strengths. “Because a credit union can provide personalized service on a human scale, you’re better positioned than the big banks to give members what they need right now – a financial institution that truly understands their needs,” she says. Looking to tap new markets? “Today, many entrepreneurs and small businesses in search of financing are turning to smaller providers, like community banks, microlenders and, yes, credit unions.”
If you don’t have a regular “support group” of colleagues, this is a great time to form one. When you’re facing a constant barrage of challenges, it’s easy to become isolated. “When I get together with fellow entrepreneurs these days, there’s some complaining, sure,” says Lesonsky. “But overall, the mood of these gatherings is positive and energetic. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, optimists, and after a few minutes’ gripe session, the mood in the room quickly turns to excitement as we suggest new ways each others’ businesses could approach problems, find solutions and explore new revenue streams.”