I am always inspired by stories of human triumph, stories of sacrifice, and stories of resilience. Entrepreneurs in today’s competitive climate face some of the toughest obstacles imaginable, ranging from financial destitution to emotional exasperation to familial sacrifice. That is why I always find it so refreshing, invigorating even, when I encounter a story of entrepreneurial excellence. Take the founder of Under Armour for example.
Once so broke Kevin Plank could not afford to pay a two dollar toll on the highway, he now operates a commercial enterprise rivaling that of corporate giant Nike. He holds exclusive deals with renowned figures the likes of Steph Curry, Tom Brady, and Jordan Spieth. While Lebron may ignore the Nike competitor’s impressive market share, the rest of the world pays tribute with hundreds of millions of dollars spent in consumption of its products every year.
Plank claims that when he could not pay the toll it was “the single worst moment” of his life. Yet, he continued pushing forward. What I question is what kept him moving forward. Without two dollars to spare, why did he believe he would still be successful? In the above linked article, Plank explains with two pieces of invaluable advice:
“Don’t Blame Forces Out of Your Control for your Misfortune”
More specifically, this is referred to as an internal locus of control. According to Psychology.about.com, an internal locus of control generally implies a greater sense of responsibility, less reliance on others’ opinions, and more confidence in addition to numerous other benefits. To believe you control your life is to take control of your future, for if you can control what happens to you now, you can create the foundation for the future you desire.
An external locus of control (meaning you believe you are not in control of what happens to you) can lead to a sort of learned helplessness. Individuals of this inclination would be more prone to accepting the circumstances that surround them, whether they are happy with said circumstances or not. In light of this, it seems it would be difficult to maintain an external locus of control while simultaneously cultivating ambition; and ambition is undoubtedly a driving factor for any successful entrepreneur.
Plank made one other declaration as well.
“Tough it out in the early days rather than taking on investments and giving away equity.”
It makes sense that the now multi-billionaire Kevin Plank would give advice in this vein. If you are willing and able, it would only seem logical that a would-be entrepreneur should find his own means of funding without diluting his ownership. Yet, while this is certainly excellent advice, I can’t help but wonder, what if a would-be entrepreneur is simply unable to fund his own venture? After a bit of research, I actually came across this Quora thread which offers a variety of solutions, including but not limited to bootstrapping, unsecured revolving credit line programs, and retirement accounts.
While I personally am not making any recommendations on this point, I do believe there are a variety of resources an able entrepreneur can utilize. Regardless, Plank’s story is an inspiring one. It tells us to take a leap of faith, to stick to our guns, and most importantly, to believe in ourselves. While Plank may have indeed walked the plank to fiscal ruin, he undoubtedly returned with tremendous treasure. Thank you kindly for the words of advice.