For 50 years, the Berenstain Bears have been teaching American youth lessons that last a lifetime. I’m sure all of you have read at least one of the 260+ editions of Berenstain Bears that Stanley and Jan Berenstain wrote, starting in 1962. Stanley passed away in 2005 and unfortunately Jan passed away at 88 because of a stroke this past Friday in Solebury, PA – 15 minutes from my hometown.
To honor all of the lessons they taught us, I wanted to add a few lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from the Berenstain Bears.
Dealing with Grown-Ups
In the book with the same title, Brother and Sister Bear become discouraged because it seems their parents only have negative things to say about them. By the end though, both the parents and cubs see the issue from each other’s point of view and that getting on each other’s nerves just comes with being a family.
Many young entrepreneurs feel discouraged by older professionals and self-appointed advisors because it always seems like they have nothing but criticism to offer. Like the cubs, young entrepreneurs should look at the issue from the older professionals point of view to understand that they are only trying to guide an entrepreneur’s ambition and teach from years of experience.
Too much can be a Bad Thing
The Berenstain Bears have several “too much” books, but all point to the same thing – Too much of a good thing can turn out bad. The same can be said for many entrepreneurs.
If you’re only focusing on successes or putting too much emphasis on a certain aspect of business, you may start to other aspects decline and start to drag your company down. While this isn’t a fateful occurrence, it is important to avoid as you try to build a successful company. Never dwell on success or failure too long, just take it all in stride so you can continue to run a well-oiled machine.
Stay away from the Green Eyed Monster
One of the classic Berenstain books, this tells the story of how Sister Bear becomes jealous of her brother’s bike and convinces herself she can ride it. She quickly finds out that was a mistake when she crashes the bike.
This is always important to remember. As an entrepreneur, you will see other companies or entrepreneurs moving quicker than you or building larger companies. While that should motivate you to do better, do not substitute that drive with envy. Being jealous of another company can cause you to stop running your race or focus on the progress you have made. Focus is key as an entrepreneur and measuring yourself against others can only take that away.
Value your money
As a young entrepreneur, money can be scarce and success can be fleeting. In the book “Money Trouble,” Brother and Sister Bear learn the value of money after they become world-class spenders of every penny they earn.
It is important for an entrepreneur to value the money that they make, receive, and have for it can be gone before they can finish counting. Value your success and don’t take money, no matter how it is received, for granted.
Think of Those in Need
As I’ve written here before, it is very important for an entrepreneur to give back or focus on being an agent of change. In “Think of Those in Need,” the Bear family realized that they have too much stuff and that they can help others with their excess of items around the house.
Entrepreneurs should take this approach when building their businesses and career. I’m not saying you should sacrifice your business growth or model in the name of doing good, but if you have the ability to reach others and be a change agent through your talent, drive, or company that you have built – that opportunity should never be wasted.
Thank you Jan and Stanley – you have taught us more than you’ll ever know.
Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager for MBA@UNC, the MBA online program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, @KratzPR!