An Embarrassing Moment Taught Me a Lot About Empathy

When I was in college, I worked a lot. Too much looking back. The 18 hour days, the traveling, the all consuming focus of “making it happen”. While it took me another 15 years to learn to value balance, one memorable trip taught me a lot about empathy.

Eric Corl
“Here’s where the embarrassing story comes in”

Here’s where the embarrassing story comes in. I was flying back from a business event, and exhausted, I fell asleep. Not bad, right? Lots of people fall asleep on planes. Give it a minute. I woke up with my shoulder on an older gentlemen’s shoulder, and…… I had drooled on him. I was horrified. After a frantic apology, I asked, “Why didn’t you wake me up?”. He replied, “My wife (sitting in the window seat next to him) and I have 5 children all older than you. It didn’t bother me a bit”.

I was in awe of his empathetic demeanor and how kind he was. At that age (19), I would have lost it if the same thing had happened to me. It gave me quite the paradigm shift.

In business and life, you’ll have situations happen to you where you have every right to be angry. I call on you to be empathetic like the older man.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have empathy shown to me many times both personally and professionally and I’m extremely grateful. So, I’ve tried to show the same kindness.

In our business, we’ve gone above and beyond to help people who we had no incentive to help. We’ve forgiven many that have wronged us.

We’ve had people attack us and have had to take a step back – knowing that if we attacked back, we’d crush them and didn’t want to put that into the world.

Sure, you’ll be taken advantage of occasionally – but some will take your kindness for what it is and your mercy will be an everlasting reminder in their lives.

Give it a try.

Best,
Eric Corl

10,000 Reasons Not to Start a Business

There are about 10,000 reasons not to start a business, so don’t, unless why you want to is important enough to you to do it anyway.

It’s my belief that if you read through this and are dissuaded, you should not start a business. Starting a business is not an easy endeavor. Making it successful is harder. Keeping it successful is even more difficult. It’s those that want to push forward despite all of that who have a much better chance of making it.

So, 10,000 reasons not to start a business, you say? Yes.

You’ll deal with hiring mistakes, having to fire good people, people irrationally upset, regulations, lawsuits, and more. If you’re in business long enough, you’ll see it all and that’s after you “make it”.

Prior to that, you’ll have to go through the hurdles and obstacles that face every entrepreneur. Product/Tech/Service development and market testing. Legal preparation. Making sure you are properly insured. Getting your first customers to purchase. Collecting your payments and receivables. Managing your cash flow. Iterating product changes based on customer feedback. Delays. Sweat. Heart Palpitations.

You must want it, you have to be willing to bust your ass to make it happen. You will have to be resourceful, persistent, and resilient.

If you have an external locus of control – the tendency to blame others for issues, throw in the towel now. You’ll have enough of that to deal with that if you’re that way it’s not even worth getting started.

If you have an internal locus of control – the tendency to think of what you could have done differently and learn from mistakes, you’ve got a leg up.

It will take longer. It will be harder.

You won’t make money as quickly as you think. It will be harder than you think it will be and you will face more challenges than you could have imagined. In fact, according to Inc.com, only 4 out of 100 businesses survive past 10 years.

If you understand all of that and can still push forward with a smile on your face, then starting a business might just be for you.

Senator Rob Portman Receives Spirit of Enterprise Award

Ohio Senator Rob Portman has received the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“To receive this prestigious award, members of Congress are scored on their votes on critical business legislation as outlined in the Chamber’s annual scorecardHow They Voted. Members who supported the Chamber’s position on at least 70 percent of those votes qualify to receive the award.”

“During the second session of the 115th Congress, the Chamber scored members on 10 Senate votes and 12 House votes on legislation related to, for example, reducing health care costs, strengthening our immigration system, expanding access to capital, and combatting the opioid crisis. This is the 31st year that the U.S. Chamber has formally honored the accomplishments of this select group of members of Congress.”

Congratulations to Senator Portman for receiving the award and thank you for supporting the Small Business Community.

We need more small business representation in Washington and it is imperative that their voices are heard.

Eric Corl

Brain Food for Entrepreneurs

I’ve started compiling a list of SoundCloud content for aspiring entrepreneurs here – https://soundcloud.com/eric-corl

When you’re first considering entreprneurship, it’s critical that you absorb as much wisdom from great entrepreneurs to get your mindset right, learn the lingo, and most importantly – learn from their mistakes.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most rewarding yet challenging endeavors one can start. If you can learn from those who have been where you want to go, you can dramatically compress time.

Check out my playlist here and let me know you’re thoughts (it’s a work in progress).

The Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus

Hi, I’m Eric Corl. I’m an entrepreneur based in Columbus, OH.
Connect with Me:
Eric Corl on Twitter
Eric Corl on LinkedIN
Eric Corl on Quora

Very happy to see the launch of the Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus by Senators Tim Scott and Amy Klobuchar. It is extremely important that there is a deliberate focus on Entrepreneurship in the Senate. I applaud the SBE Council’s efforts to keep this as a top discussion in Washington, DC and I am excited to see it yield results.

All too often – in politics – the impact of legislation on small businesses and entrepreneurs is an afterthought versus a focus.

Entrepreneurs are the economic engine that drive our economy forward. They must be supported and advocated for in Washington, DC. While there is mixed data, some studies actually show a long term trend of declining startup activity in the United States. Long term, entrepreneurship needs to remain a focus – I would argue that it is critical. Here is some interesting data and thoughts on it.

Data on the State of Entrepreneurship:
Infographic: Millennial Entrepreneurs and the State of Entrepreneurship
Kaufmann Indicators of Entrepreneurship

Economic Benefits of Entrepreneurship:

Business Formation by State – We need to encourage entrepreneurship nationwide.

We need to encourage more female entrepreneurship and support education/programs to encourage startups. Efforts are showing progress but need to be accelerated.

The Top 20 Global Cities for VC Investment:

Small Business Stats from Small Business Trends

This is a working draft. I will continue to update and refine this article. Please feel free to make suggestions on the content in this article. Thank you, Eric Corl.

Five Life Tips for Entrepreneurs

Here are five life tips for entrepreneurs that I like to share with new small business owners.

  1. Always provide value for value. If you get a great intro, repay the favor with an intro of your own, etc. The more value you provide to others, the more you’ll get in return in aggregate.
  2. Avoid people with external locusts of control. These are people that always blame other circumstances on their failures. This filter alone will save you a tremendous amount of heartache both personally and professionally.
  3. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs you want to be like. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. With audio books, and plenty of online content, you can have lunch with the most successful people in the world, everyday.
  4. Don’t let others judgement of you dissuade you. No matter what you do in life, you will have haters. The more you do, the more that is true. You’ll have unhappy customers, you’ll have people who gossip about you. Everyone does. If you don’t, it’s likely because no one knows who you are. The best steak restaurants in the world have people who complain about the steak after they’ve eaten 90% of it. Plan on 2-3% of people hating you and be OKAY with that. You don’t want to do business with those people anyway. Focus on your fans, on your tribe.
  5. Give it your all. Once you set your sights on your path, give it absolutely everything you have. Hard work compresses time – getting you from where you are to where you want to be in a shorter amount of time. Hard work is what will set you apart from everyone else because while most people are willing to sprint, few are willing to run the marathon.

Eric Corl

A Note from Eric Corl

Welcome to my blog! This is a new experiment and coming as a result of typing a lot of helpful content to individuals that I’ll now share for more to benefit from.

I hope you find value in my writing – whether that be entertainment or helpful tips in your own journey of small business ownership or entrepreneurship.

If you have content suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to produce relevant and valuable content on the topic.

Here’s a picture of me, so you get an idea of who you’re reading from. Note that the grey hair IS directly related to starting lots of companies :).

Eric Corl
Eric Corl – Grey Hair and All

Why I Became an Entrepreneur

I grew up in an a family business. That meant learning how business worked at a young age. It’s something that is discussed at your dinner table. It’s part of your weekends when help is needed. It’s your summer job. It’s ingrained in you. This planted the seeds for my entrepreneurial journey.

For five years , I worked as much as I could for my family’s business and mowed 3-4 yards per week, essentially running a micro business and cutting my teeth with pricing, recurring contracts, and customer satisfaction.

However, when I was 16 years old, I was on a fast track to becoming a doctor. I had straight A’s, I had been fascinated by medicine from a young age. I had scoped out the colleges I wanted to go to, and dreamed of being an orthopedic surgeon. That was, until I started meeting several who were not happy, were not fulfilled, and were all getting into business ventures.

It was around that time, that I received my first copy of the book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. The book changed my mindset from what can I do as an individual, to how I can create an impact with systems.

It’s my belief that entrepreneurship is the archimedes lever that allows you to achieve more than you would ever be able to as an individual.

It was that realization that put me on my path to filing my first LLC at 18 years old prior to going to Ohio State University where I would get into the world of startups.