Cosmo Kramer might not be the first person who comes to mind when choosing someone to emulate during your business career. In fact, he might be the last. But maybe we should rethink that. The eccentric Seinfeld character has a lot of qualities that startup businesses need in order to be successful – he’s persuasive, he networks, and he’s a risk-taker. Perhaps entrepreneurs should start living by the mantra of WWKD (what would Kramer do).
There’s no denying that persuasion is a vital personality trait for entrepreneurs. Now think back to how often Kramer was able to convince Jerry to do things despite his reluctance. In fact, on one occasion Kramer persuaded Jerry to swap apartments with him when the beaming lights from Kenny Rogers’ Roaster’s neon sign caused Kramer insomnia, much to Jerry’s disadvantage. Kramer is a master of persuasion, and that’s something that every entrepreneur needs. Nearly every aspect of getting a business off the ground requires some ability to sway those around you. Convincing your family and friends to support you quitting your job and starting your own business is a challenge, just as raising capital is. You need to gain the resounding trust from loved ones and investors in your ability to succeed. And that’s just the initial challenge. More importantly, you have to convince customers that your product or service is of value to them and is worth your asking price. Without the ability to persuade, startups fail rapidly or never come to fruition at all.
Another valuable quality for entrepreneurs to have is networking skills. In fact, according to Richard Branson, “the first step on the road to success is building a network… [I]f you're limited in terms of who you can access, talk to and sell to, well, you probably won't get very far.” Maybe having a Newman, a Bob Sacamano, a Lomez, or a Mickey in your contact list is valuable. After all, they might procure free assets for your new business venture, just as Newman volunteered his mail truck during his and Kramer’s bottle deposit scheme. Kramer is always networking and gaining contacts, something that every business owner should do.
Being a risk taker is another trait of Kramer’s that goes hand-in-hand with entrepreneurship. Every successful business is the product of a founder’s risky decision. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft. Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal, had no prior experience in the aerospace industry when he started SpaceX. Today, SpaceX is a major transport contractor for NASA and the International Space Station. And Cosmo Kramer illegally painted over two of the four lanes on a highway in order to make it more luxurious. The spacious two-lane highway was met with praise by Elaine.
Of course, not every project Kramer undertook was a resounding success. But he kept trying and always believed in himself. Even after failing numerous times, his entrepreneurial spirit never waned. He continued influencing those around him, he didn’t stop networking, and he never shied away from risk. If Kramer’s business career hadn’t been cut short by a prison sentence, it’s possible that he would have been the next Internet billionaire. So the next time you’re looking for inspiration and motivation, ask yourself: WWKD?
What other unconventional characters might have made good entrepreneurs? Let us know below or get in touch with us @NapkinBetaBeyond.