Responding to the Call (Opinion)

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 111 views 

Picking peaches. Wrapping Christmas presents. Running Monopoly tournaments. What do these have in common? They’re just a few of my first business ventures – all before I was 15.

And while I never made the Inc. 500/5000 list in those early years, it was enough to put the entrepreneurial fire in my belly for life. 

If you are an entrepreneur, you know what I am talking about. You may have a traditional role in your organization, but you recognize the irresistible siren’s song that draws you to start something new, and to build something of your own design. Risk, high stakes and high expectations only sweeten the deal.

Is that you? 

Good. Because today, organizations need what you have. 

I knew at a young age I wanted to build a company someday. But I had no idea what kind of company or, more importantly, what it would really take to succeed. Good thing. Turns out, it’s really hard. I’m not easily deterred, though, and I might be what you would call a serial entrepreneur.

I’ve founded two successful companies and am in my third go-around now, taking on the role of creating a new global public relations network. 

And while there are many things I can’t do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can build. The past 18 years have been the most rewarding of my life as I have been at the helm of Mitchell Communications Group based here in Northwest Arkansas. What started as a sole proprietorship at my kitchen table in 1995 turned out to be a top 50 firm and one of the fastest growing in our industry: We’ve grown 530 percent over the past five years; we’re a 2013 top 10 fastest-growing PR agency globally, according to The Holmes Report; we’ve twice been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list (finally made it 30 years later!); and twice named one of the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies in North America by Women Presidents’ Organization and American Express OPEN.

What is your entrepreneurial vision? Whether you are defining a new marketplace offering, starting a new project, establishing a new team, or even building a new global organization, it’s a journey that could be one of the most meaningful experiences of your career.

A McKinsey study titled “How Executives Grow” found the five most important developmental experiences in the life of a professional were:

• Stepping into a new position with a large scope

• Turning around a business

• Starting a new business

• Leading a large, high-profile special project

• Working outside one’s home country.

Each of these engagements requires the entrepreneurial spirit to succeed, as well as endless fortitude and resilience to stay the course regardless of the obstacles you will inevitably face.

It is a unique privilege to create something from nothing. This is the domain of the entrepreneur. To invest in a big idea that is grounded in research but born from intuition and nurtured by an impeccable sense of timing. 

Entrepreneurship is also something that seems to come naturally to many in our region. Our heritage is deeply rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit shown by Sam Walton, J.B. Hunt and Don Tyson. Inspired by their success, a new generation of entrepreneurs has shown they’ve got what it takes to forge new paths in their industries. And I am constantly amazed by the talent and determination of many emerging entrepreneurs in Northwest Arkansas, who are already making their voices heard on the national and global stage.

So what are you going to establish in your organization? How much of a calculated risk are you willing to take to achieve a bigger win? Are you willing to listen to the relentless voice in your head that says this needs to exist?

Listen to that voice, because this is the source of inspiration that compels us to take the road less traveled, and it is the decision that defines the entrepreneur. 

Elise Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Mitchell Communications Group in Fayetteville and the CEO of Dentsu Public Relations Network. She can be reached at [email protected] or 479-443-4673.