Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, media personality, public speaker and the most-syndicated young entrepreneurship columnist in the world. He is the founder and CEO of Gerber Enterprises, an entrepreneurial incubator and venture management company that invests capital, management expertise, and marketing services into innovative early and mid-stage companies. Founded in 2004, the company has since launched a diverse portfolio of businesses, including Yearbook Innovation, an end-to-end provider of print and digital media school memory products and services; and Sizzle It!, the expert in sizzle reel production for a global clientele of public relations, marketing and advertising firms. Scott is also the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an advocacy group made up of many of the world’s top young entrepreneurs that works to help young people overcome the devastating effects of youth unemployment and underemployment by teaching them how to build businesses, and is the author of the book, “Never Get a ‘Real’ Job.”
What are you working on right now?
My Death to the Resume Movement and The Young Entrepreneur Council. We’re looking to help Gen Y overcome the devastating epidemics of youth unemployment and underemployment by teaching them how to build businesses. It’s about time that someone says what needs to be said (you know, that “work hard, get good grades, go to school and get a job” is a load of crap), and I’m glad the Young Entrepreneur Council and I are the people out there doing it. This is the main reason I wrote “Never Get a ‘Real’ Job.” I want to help Gen Y become the most entrepreneurial generation in history.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I partner with smarter people. For me, collaboration is the key to brainstorming and fleshing out a solid idea. I bring in people with different opinions and views, and put the right team together at the start to make sure we turn ideas into realities.
3 trends that excite you?
Young entrepreneurship is on the rise. Out of necessity and desperation — and of course a general hatred for “real” jobs and everything they stand for — young people are starting businesses, or are looking to start businesses in record numbers. This excites me, because more and more, young people are realizing that the 9 to 5 — or trying to fight their way into a 9 to 5 system that doesn’t want them — does not make any sense in the new economy.
Crowdsourcing is a wonderful thing. No longer do business owners need to hire only one vendor for a project — they only need to pay for one! The fact that I can tap some of the world’s top creative talents by visiting a site like 99designs and have many world-class iterations of my project in less than a week astounds me. And of course, design is only one aspect of this new crowdsourcing industry.
The concept of creating a virtual business has gone mainstream. Whether you want to thank Tim Ferriss or our ever-shrinking shrinking economy, entrepreneurs are starting to realize that they can automate, scale and run much of their businesses for pennies on the dollar with virtual assistants. Business owners can now look like global captains of industry, without spending like the titans, using virtual offices. Office expenses are down dramatically with the advent of new technologies, virtual phone systems (such as those provided by Grasshopper) and the cloud. This virtual revolution is now allowing more people than ever to break into entrepreneurship on a shoestring budget.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I carry an idea-pad wherever I go. It’s basically just a regular pad where I jot down all of my ideas. I also religiously read anything by Seth Godin. In fact, his book “Tribes” — and its principles and message — was one of the driving forces behind my founding of the Young Entrepreneur Council, which has since become a very well-known and established tribe that is helping to transform Gen Y into self-sufficiency experts and entrepreneurs.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Well, there have been many. But if I needed to choose one, I’d say it was trying to build my first company too big too fast. I spent too much on overhead because I thought I “needed” it, and I was too busy trying to realize the end of my “5-year plan” instead of thinking about my next-day plan. This, along with many other mistakes, led to me nearly going bankrupt when my first company went kaput. Since then, I never start infrastructure or overhead-heavy businesses — I think around expenses, simplify my concept until it can be started on less than a shoestring budget and grow the business using cash flow.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I always wanted to create a nightlife venue called Suds, which would combine a bar with a laundry mat. There would be washing machines for tables, TVs for sports fans, and on weekends, it would turn into a swanky club with foam parties.
Why should young people never get a “real” job?
“Real” jobs — and the quest to attain them — is holding Gen Y back. We no longer live in a hand-out, resume-driven society. Millions are unemployed or underemployed, and with innovations in technology, an overabundance of educational institutions both online and offline, and globalization, jobs will not be rebounding anytime soon. If we are to survive this epidemic, we must begin to create our own jobs to keep our jobs. Bottom line: Start small, shrink your expenses, sell every day and earn your own income that will grow over time — and you’ll be better for it.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.