I currently teach a class on entrepreneurship called “Fastrac New Venture” for people who are just starting out in the business world. The class takes place one night a week over the course of ten weeks with fifteen participants in total. A few days ago, my students presented me with an adorable little gift. It was a coffee mug with the Claymation character, Gumby’s face on it and Red Vines candies coming out of the top. It was a cute little nod toward one of my business mantras that I often remind my students of. I tell them they should always be thinking how can I “Gumby” my business?

 

If you know who Gumby is, you know he’s a long, lanky goofy green guy; but his most identifiable trait is his ability to stretch, morph, and change shape. This is the way I think every entrepreneur should view their business. In my opinion, an entrepreneur is different from a typical business owner. A business owner is simply a person who owns and runs a business. An entrepreneur is a visionary. An entrepreneur is adaptable and open to change based on the needs of the customers. Every person who starts their own business has a general idea of what their business is going to be; but an entrepreneur is willing to change or expand on that when the opportunity arises. Opportunity doesn’t wait for you to say “I’m ready!” It simply shows up; and if it’s outside of the form that you initially thought your business was going to take, you have to decide if you’re going to go along with it or if you’re going to let it pass you by.

For example, I was recently contacted by a company who is interested in developing a strong social media presence to reach a wider range of clients. Now, if you look at my service menu, you won’t see “social media” listed; but it is something that many clients request. So, instead of being closed off to the idea, I determined what I needed to do to execute it successfully. This included hiring an assistant (to the surprise of everyone in my building) to help with research, organization, and brainstorming for the social media campaign.

In the past, I’d also been contacted to organize a public forum, which is definitely not something I normally do. But, what is a public forum? It’s a meeting where a group of people get together and communicate. Well, I’m a communicator and was able to successfully organize the meeting despite never having done it or even thought of doing it in the past. I was open to it, and that’s the key. That’s not to suggest that you completely throw out your business plan. I always advise new business owners to stay true to their “core,” the general, broad-strokes idea that they have for their business. But always, ALWAYS be open to changes and new opportunities. For some people, the idea of change produces fear and this fear can be paralyzing. I believe that this fear is simply due to a lack of insight. Far from being some earth-shattering, catastrophic thing, change is the most beautiful and inspiring thing that can happen in your business. The world is constantly changing; and, if you’re not willing to change with it, you might find yourself being left behind.

So, I urge all of my fellow entrepreneurs, up-and-comers and veterans alike, to always be thinking of how you can “Gumby” your business.

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