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The Four M’s of True Entrepreneurship


Starting Off On The Right Foot

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. After all, who doesn’t want to be their own boss and build their dreams from the ground up? An entrepreneurial spirit is a strong guiding force, one that brings most people into the business world as if they have no other choice- to create, to inspire, to bring their passions to light. But as we all know, for every self-started business that launches into a fully actualized success, there are many that fizzle out into dreams that almost came true. That’s why it’s imperative to start your business off on the right foot. 

Here at HMG, we pride ourselves on being a self-started business. When our Founder, James Trumbly, established HMG in 2003, he did so with a brand story in his heart. This brand story gave way to our guiding principles- to remain authentic, be accountable, find purpose, navigate growth, be good stewards, and stay creative.

It’s these guiding principles that have allowed us to celebrate 20 years of building better brands, and attract employees who take these values seriously. When you stay true to your brand story, your meaning, you find other people who are just as passionate about your mission- such as our Senior Brand & Marketing Strategist, John Paulsen.

As an entrepreneur himself, John has some fantastic insights into what it takes to be a true entrepreneur. With his long history as a business owner to his experience on the other side as a marketing specialist, John created the Four M’s of True Entrepreneurship. Let’s get into exactly what The Four M’s are.

The Four M’s of True Entrepreneurship

The Four M’s of True Entrepreneurship hope to start every budding businessperson out on the foot of passion, to create a strong brand story your venture can live off of for a lifetime. The M’s are Meaning, Motivation, Math, and Many, and here’s exactly what they mean.

The Four M's, Meaning


The first M stands for Meaning, and this is where the founding seed of your business needs to be planted. John sees this as the idea spark! The eureka moment that made you shoot out of bed in the middle of the night to jot your million-dollar idea! The meaning of your business is what you’re trying to put out into the world, the message. This is your passion, your reason for putting in all this time and energy, the hill you’re willing to die on. Meaning is where your brand story starts and where it lives as your business grows. Stray from your story and you’ll lose your meaning, lose your meaning and lose the soul of your business.


The Four M's, Motivation


The second M stands for Motivation. This is what drives you beyond the passion you have to share your brand story. Think of it as the little voice in your head pushing you to keep going when things get rough and meaning isn’t enough. There are three main camps of motivation in this context.

  1. I’ll prove you wrong– This form of motivation comes from any time you’ve been told you can’t. Can’t be successful, can’t make it work, can’t sell your product. This motivation may seem like it’s out of spite… and that’s partially true. Spite is a powerful emotion that you can harness to propel yourself into greatness. So if flipping all the can’ts in your life into cans is what makes you get up in the morning- tap into it, hard.
  2. I’ll make money– The money motivator is arguably the most common, and often the most practical motivator. Of course, everyone wants to make money, a business can’t survive without funds after all. But if this is your motivator then money is the core, driving force for why you’re doing this. Money-motivated people are often the most disconnected from their Meaning and the most connected to the Math. 
  3. I’ll make you proud– Almost acting as the antithesis to the I’ll prove you wrong motivation, the I’ll make you proud motivation relies on positive reinforcement from your environment. This motivator pushes people who want to make their families proud,  build something for their children, or create a household name from the ground up. These people are not only looking for recognition from their inner circle but from the world. People who use this motivator want the fame and want to leave a lasting mark with their business.


The Four M's, Math


The next M stands for Math, an important aspect of entrepreneurship that is exactly what it sounds like- all about the numbers. You have to be concerned with and understand the logistics of your business inside and out for it to run smoothly.

How much does it cost to produce our product, how can we lower this cost, what are we selling this for, what do our profit margins look like- these are the questions you have to be asking yourself. But the math aspect doesn’t solely have to do with money, it also relates to effectiveness and efficiency. This includes questions like what’s the click-through rate on our latest Facebook ad, how much time are people spending on our landing page, what’s the efficiency sweet spot for how many people I need on my team, who is our target audience and where do they live? Good entrepreneurs want the math to look good, great entrepreneurs understand why the numbers are so fantastic (or totally tanking).


The Four M's, Many


The final M stands for Many. Many has to do with people, and more specifically how people come into play as your business grows. John records this growth in two aspects, many people wanting your product and many people being needed to provide it.

  1. Selling many– Your product is in high demand! You’ve grown from passing out free samples and the only new signups on your website being your family members to sorting through a flood of orders that you can barely keep up with alone. Many products in demand lead to our next aspect of growth, many people on your team. 
  2. Hiring many– It’s important to recognize when you can no longer handle something on your own, this is when you need to expand your army of one to a mission of many. Your meaning is personal until you decide to share it. Although this is our last M of true entrepreneurship, John argues that the people aspect is the most important behind your Meaning, and here’s why.

As your business expands beyond just yourself, the people you hire become the new face of your meaning. These people have to understand your brand story to the fullest so that they can accurately represent it to every customer and client they interact with. You can train anyone to memorize a mission statement or follow employee etiquette, but what you can’t teach is passion. 

John’s expert tip is this, when you’re interviewing prospective team members, ask them what they’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to line up with your business, or even be something you’re familiar with at all, all that matters is how they react. If they light up and start rambling on about their niche interest, you’ve got yourself a new hire! But if they look around trying to come up with something or respond with a “hmmm… I don’t really know what I’m passionate about…” you’ll know to pass up on that follow-up interview. If they have a passion they’ll be able to understand your passion and articulate it to other people. John put it best with this statement, “If people are passionate about something, they can be passionate about your thing.”


True Entrepreneurship

You’ll notice that when John Paulsen came up with The Four M’s he didn’t call them The Four M’s of Business or The Four M’s of Startups or even just The Four M’s of Entrepreneurship, The Four M’s of True Entrepreneurship was chosen with care. The reasoning is simple, you can start a business without meaning, but a true entrepreneur never would. A true entrepreneur is guided by passion, with the insatiable need to spread their message to the world. Their brand story is what they live by, and they can’t imagine it any other way. To be a true entrepreneur you need a handle in all Four M’s, with the strongest one you’re never willing to compromise being your meaning, your passion.

To close us out, here’s a reminder. Passion can be all-encompassing, but it shouldn’t feel like stress! “The only difference between stress and passion is seeing the vision,” John Paulsen likes to say.