The Social Network: Four Powerful Lessons for Today's Entrepreneur

I finally went to see The Social Network, the movie about the founding of Facebook by entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg and friends in a Harvard dorm room. If you are an entrepreneur, especially a young or under-capitalized entrepreneur, you need to see this movie! It was motivational, educational and incredibly entertaining. There were several key points that the movie made about success and running your own company that you can apply to your life as you set out to start a business.
1. Unwavering Commitment. Mark Zuckerberg was committed to creating and growing Facebook; more committed than any of the other players who were there at its inception. That's why he is the CEO and they are not. Period. If you look around, just a little, you will notice that successful entrepreneurs live their dream. By ‘live their dream' I mean that they are tirelessly working all day, every single day, losing sleep, spending their last pennies and failing to eat or brush their teeth because they are so extraordinarily focused on one thing- making that dream come true. If you are not exhausted, broke and close to friendless then my guess would be that you are not committed and will either not achieve your dream or your achievement of said dream will be substantially delayed.
2. Significant Self-Confidence. In the movie, Mark Zuckerberg is portrayed as a bit of a self-important, sarcastic jerk. But guess what? Thinking highly of one's self is an important ingredient to success. I am not saying you should be a jerk but you should be VERY confident. If you don't believe in yourself, how can you get others to believe in your product? You have to be confident that you can and will reach your goal because there will be naysayers. There will be many, many naysayers- some of whom will be close friends and family, who will tell you that you are delusional, impractical, setting yourself up for failure, not smart enough, not old enough, not rich enough . . . you get the point. You will need a large, heaping dose of self-confidence to overcome the incessant naysayers who are constantly sharing their opinions and trying to shake you off course.
3. Don't Try to Get Rich Quick! This is a big mistake that co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin, made. Once Facebook was up and running, he immediately became obsessed with making money. Rather than focusing on the product, he began to focus on the profit. His strategy was to sell advertising space on the popular site. However, Mark disagreed with this strategy because he felt that advertising would dilute Facebook's “cool.” Guess how Facebook makes its billions now? Yep, advertising! Eduardo had it right all along, he just tried to make money too early. As entrepreneurs, we want to get paid. We want to turn a profit so we can take care of ourselves, our families and our world. (And let's be honest we want Ferraris and Louboutins, too). And with all the hard work we put in, it makes sense. But you will have a hard time focusing on your business if you are constantly thinking about money (or the lack thereof in your wallet). Instead, focus on your next goal. As long as you are actively pursuing and achieving your goals, the profit is not too far away. You just have to stay focused!
4. Lawyer Up! I know this seems contrived since I am a lawyer and I am suggesting that you, as an entrepreneur, need a lawyer, but it really is true. You need a lawyer! The dispute among the various so-called co-founder's of Facebook portrayed in the movie display the importance of hiring a lawyer early on. Eduardo got screwed out of a substantial share of Facebook. Hey, he's still a billionaire with his mere 5% ownership but how many hundreds of thousands of dollars do you think he spent in legal fees suing Mark for that 5% share? Do not wind up losing thousands or millions because you wanted to save a few hundred dollars in attorney's fees! Bite the bullet and spend the money to be incorporated properly with an iron clad operating agreement, partnership agreement or by-laws that will govern what will happen when the money starts to flow.
If you are an entrepreneur or a wannabe entrepreneur or even a seasoned business owner, go out and see this inspiring movie. I am sure it will be stimulating and worth the two hours away from your business! 😉
Disclaimer: Of course, I must inform you that while I am a lawyer, there is no attorney-client relationship between me and you (the reader) and this blog should not take the place of obtaining an attorney for advice on your specific situation. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner and want to consult with an attorney you can contact me here to schedule a free consultation via telephone or Skype.

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