Being an entrepreneur is all about learning and connecting with other entrepreneurs. With that in mind, I want to share with you what I learned from this interview with Pete Sveen, the creator of Think Entrepreneurship blog and founder of the online store Signs of the Mountains. Here is what Pete had to say.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your businesses.
Pete Sveen: I’ve been an entrepreneur since the first lemonade stand I put up as a kid. Since then, I’ve always had the entrepreneurship bug in my system. A few years ago I noticed my entrepreneurial spirit seems to spread to others and so I decided to start a blog and consulting business to help other entrepreneurs and startups. Think Entrepreneurship is a company devoted to helping other entrepreneurs by sharing tips, advice, and inspiration with them. In addition to running the Think Entrepreneurship Blog, I own a real estate investing company and an online store named Signs of The Mountains.com
Q: Tell me the story on how you came up with the idea for ThinkEntrepreneurship.com
Pete Sveen: I entered entrepreneur business plan competitions during college at the University of Nebraska and loved how the judges and fellow entrepreneurs were so willing to help out other entrepreneurs. Helping others is extremely rewarding for most people, including myself. I figured I could help other entrepreneurs from the experience I’ve had with online business and owning real estate. Thus, I started the Think Entrepreneurship community.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
Pete Sveen: I use a combination of both online and offline marketing tactics. Word of mouth, networking, and local PR has been the most helpful marketing for Think Entrepreneurship offline. Networking groups like BNI, the Chamber of Commerce, and Young Professionals Group have all been great ways to generate business and become a well-respected young business person in the community.
I’d say the most successful form of marketing online for Think Entrepreneurship has been link building and guest posting. Guest posting on high traffic blogs and networking with fellow bloggers in your niche is important. You can’t be shy. Get your name out there!
Q: Who would you say inspired you the most to become an entrepreneur and how do you stay motivated?
Pete Sveen: I’d say my Dad had the most influence on my decision to become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship runs in my family’s blood. My Dad is a serial entrepreneur who’s created many successful companies from scratch. He’s always told me how important it is to find great people to run your businesses. I hope someday I can be half as successful as him.
I stay motivated by writing down my goals and working to achieve them. It’s important to have goals written down to keep you on track and working hard. In addition to goal setting I read inspirational business and self-development books. Lastly, I always make sure to schedule exercise into my daily routine. Exercise helps keep me feeling good and on top of my game. It allows me to clear my mind and think positively.
Q: If you had the chance to start your career over again what would you do differently?
Pete Sveen: I’m not someone who cries over spilled milk or regrets what I’ve done, but there are a few things I’d have thought differently about. The first is that you have to be passionate about an idea. Don’t just think about the dollar signs involved with starting a business because you’ll get burned out. I’ve gone through trial and error to find what I’m truly passionate about. The second thing I would do differently is focus and work really hard on my core business. It’s easy to think of new business ideas and get distracted. I often spread myself too thin and was a jack of all trades. I learned that in order to be successful I needed to re-focus and be the best at just a couple things, instead of trying to learn how to do everything.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Pete Sveen: I love the freedom and unlimited income potential we have as entrepreneurs. I work very hard, but enjoy being able to call the shots. If I want to take an afternoon off to play a round of golf I can. I’ll just have to make sure I still get everything done some other time. I’ve never been great at working for others because I just have a hard time staying motivated.
Q: How do you define success?
Pete Sveen: I’d define success as finding what you are truly passionate about and creating a profitable business from it. I think having enough money to live comfortably, travel from time to time, and to provide for your family is something to be very proud of. Success also deals with finding a rewarding business that helps others and makes a difference in the world. If you can find a business that you love, make a living from it, and help others, I think you are on the right track.
Q: What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Pete Sveen: Persistence, Ability to take a risk, Hard Work
Q: Where do you see yourself and Think Entrepreneurship in the next 5 to 10 years?
Pete Sveen: I see myself continuing to build the Think Entrepreneurship brand and inspiring other entrepreneurs.
Q: What 3 advice would you give to anyone looking to start their own business?
1. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and go for it. If you don’t put yourself out there and be pro-active, you’ll never get where you want to go.
2. Always continue to learn. Read business books, stay current with the news, and go to seminars and conferences. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from all sorts great people.
3. Find a person in your community who has successfully built a business. Ask if they will be your mentor. Having an experienced businessperson as a mentor is like having a “Free” board member to help guide you and your business.
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
Pete Sveen: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain, author