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Sean Frank of Cloud Equity Group on the Successful Entrepreneur Who Never Gives Up

Sean stresses that perseverance is most likely the single most important characteristic that any aspiring entrepreneur requires.
Sean Frank

What makes an entrepreneur successful? Anyone can come up with a great idea. Does an idea alone make someone an entrepreneur? Remote work combined with the struggles of a new COVID world have led many people to consider “doing their own thing.” But, should we expect these shifts to lead to a new era of highly successful young entrepreneurs?

One well known entrepreneur who began at a young age is American investorSean Frank, founder and Managing Partner ofCloud Equity Group. Frank has carved a niche within the private equity field with a focus on unique structured investments in small cap technology companies. He is a frequent public speaker on entrepreneurship with engagements on many college campuses. Here, Sean shares two important attributes of the aspiring entrepreneur.

Perseverance Is Key

Sean stresses that perseverance is most likely the single most important characteristic that any aspiring entrepreneur requires.

Sean stresses that perseverance is most likely the single most important characteristic that any aspiring entrepreneur requires. “I’ve given numerous talks on the aspiring entrepreneur and I constantly reiterate that you’re going to fail repeatedly. And you’ll continue to fail once your business is established. Entrepreneurship is about learning from failures while not giving up.”

Usually, the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about entrepreneurship are the end results. People think about the freedom of being one's own boss, the glamor of having lots of money, and the excitement of doing whatever you like. However, what people rarely consider is the hard work it takes to get there. In a presentation at Harvard Business School, Sean Frank discussed the many sleepless nights, the empty bank accounts, and the efforts it took to start each of his fledgling businesses. “My experiences were not unique; every entrepreneur shares similar stories. The thing that makes us different from everyone else is we keep pushing through the difficult times and don’t give up.”

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Find a Mentor

Everything is new when you start out. Many people believe that working in a similar field or doing research sets the stage to conquer business ownership. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As Sean Frank puts it, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Let’s consider mentorship in relation to a hair salon. “It's a common practice for someone who has a lot of experience cutting hair and a list of repeat customers to start their own shop. There’s no doubt they’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience working for someone else but does this mean they’re ready to launch their own salon? Not necessarily.”

“Think about this, the experience gained in this example is purely service-oriented — it’s learning how to provide a good quality service to the customer. Running a business is much more than that. It’s managing a budget, negotiating with suppliers, figuring out how to pay for inventory upfront without knowing how long it will take to sell, plus hundreds of other issues.”

Sean Frank speaks from experience. In high school, he ran a web services business and connected with a mentor, Andy McKelvey, former CEO and founder of the popular job search website Monster.com. “I knew the space very well. I’d been doing it for years. However, what Andy brought was a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge that I had no clue about.”

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Andy offered a tremendous amount of value to Sean by teaching him about M&A (mergers and acquisitions) and how to scale his business by buying competitors. This skill set would not only help Sean grow his business significantly, but it also paved the way for Cloud Equity Group to focus on the acquisition of tech-enabled businesses.

Sejal Desai