[MVP] Michael Knouse: Empowering Entrepreneurs

Michael Knouse

Pregame MVP Michael Knouse helps established business builders escape overwhelm, find focus and thrive as an impact-driven entrepreneur. He empowers visionary entrepreneurs to realize their full potential through accountability, smart business design, deep focus, and execution.

He hosts The Startup Sessions Podcast and is the creator of The Council of Visionary Business Builders. Michael’s goal is to show mission-driven business leaders how to achieve their full human potential through entrepreneurship.

Why do you love working with entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs are my favorite people. By nature, they are rule breakers and smart risk takers. The most alive and energetic people I know are often entrepreneurs. When there’s a challenge to be solved, an entrepreneur is often the first to use their innovation and creative thinking to improve the situation.

I love the boundless energy and creative spirit that most entrepreneurs seem to possess. Whether it’s beer makers, software builders, or service professionals, entrepreneurs have this unique ability to make their dreams and desires real. For these reasons and a million more, I love working with and serving entrepreneurs more than anything in the world.

Liberating the genius within entrepreneurs is what I was born to do and not a day goes by where I don’t pinch myself and wonder how I got lucky enough to surround myself with these brilliant, brave and sometimes crazy souls that we call entrepreneurs.

What is an important thing that doesn’t get talked about enough in entrepreneurship?
So often, we entrepreneurs slip into a default mode of fear-based hustling vs. taking congruent action. We chase the effect of the hustle and the impact we think it will have on our lives. Instead of looking for the end result to determine how we might feel, what if we could become clear on how we want to feel first and then decide on the most congruent way to get there?

I’m all about discovering the path that will lead us on our journey in the most joyful, elegant, and profitable way. But this doesn’t mean we’ll always get it right the first time. Experimentation is the hallmark of great entrepreneurs and some experiments just don’t work out. But building a life and business that honors YOU should be priority #1.

As a coach, I love a good question. And a really good question to be asking about your business is “What am I really wanting out of this?” Is it to have more time with family? Is it to be of the greatest service to the greatest number of people? Is it to generate a $10M business in the next three years?

Establishing clarity around how we want to feel and then aligning our business actions around those desired feelings is a much more sustainable, enjoyable and most likely, profitable, way to operate a business.

What is your goal with the Startup Sessions podcast?
My goal with the podcast has always been to highlight the stories, strategies, and tactics of visionary entrepreneurs. I think it’s so important to have honest conversations about all aspects of building and growing a business. I love digging into the reasons that an entrepreneur started their business in the first place. I find it endlessly fascinating to talk about the many ways of starting, growing and running a business. No two stories are ever the same.

Tony Robbins is famous for stating the phrase, “success leaves clues,” and I love digging for the clues and highlighting the themes of successful business builders. I receive a tremendous amount of joy from drilling deep and uncovering the backstory of what makes entrepreneurs’ tick and then highlighting the common themes that successful business owners share. If I can inspire just one entrepreneur every week to stick with their vision and find creative ways to keep evolving, then I consider my podcast a big win.

What is The Council of Visionary Business Builders?
The Council of Visionary Business Builders is a revolutionary new way for business builders to gather, learn, grow, share, collaborate, ask for help, and rise together in business success. It is a place for connecting and sharing with other impact-driven entrepreneurs… to fuel business growth and innovation on a level that is impossible to attain by working alone.

I created The Council of Visionary Business Builders to serve self-funded, mission-driven entrepreneurs in a unique way. I wanted to create an intentional community where entrepreneurs could learn from one another, celebrate wins, and openly discuss the challenges that come with growing a meaningful business – all in a safe container of curated influencers that are as dedicated to their own business mission as they are to helping one another.

What inspired you to start The Council?
I was inspired to start The Council out of my own need for a specific kind of community. As an entrepreneur, things can get a bit lonely at times and I wanted to create a community where entrepreneurs could flourish together instead of trying to do everything themselves. There’s an African proverb that states “If you want to go far, go together.” Nowhere is this more true than with entrepreneurship. There are no rules and everything is fair game. Thus, I think it’s super important to have a safe place to express ideas, share problems and ask for specific help, feedback and insight.

I also wanted to provide a forum where entrepreneurs could gather on a quarterly basis to set important objectives for their businesses and create a plan to reach them. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, so I wanted to create a unique setting for self-funded entrepreneurs to find inspiration, learn from one another, and set measurable objectives to create massive momentum in their businesses.

How has your career path informed your business coaching style?
My career path has had a huge influence on my coaching style. I’ve worked for large corporations, scrappy tech startups, I founded and sold a pet products company, and I was a partner in a real estate investment firm. All of these roles have given me challenges to overcome and circumstances to navigate. As a result, I don’t believe there is any one ‘system’ or ‘right way’ to do things. I believe that we are all unique individuals with a unique set of skills, talents, desires and experiences and that the more you can tap into this reservoir of combined uniqueness, the more empowered you’ll become about launching, growing, and sustaining a business.

I do, however, believe in frameworks. Frameworks are the proven models or strategies that allow business builders to find leverage and get better results with less time and effort. My coaching style accounts for the unique qualities and style that a person or business possesses while leveraging proven frameworks to grow and evolve the business.

What has been a game-changing influence in your career and why?
The biggest game-changing influence in my career occurred when I got laid off from a software sales job after my best quarter at that company. It was then and there that I realized that as long as I worked for someone else, I was putting my security in someone else’s hands. This experience clarified for me that as long as I was willing to allow someone else to determine my worth, I ran the risk of not being fully rewarded to the extent that I could if I worked for myself.

Now, there’s certainly no guarantee of success with entrepreneurship – far from it. But I’m the kind of person that would rather place a bet on myself than rely on someone else. Plus, I’m willing to put in the work to have the freedom and flexibility of being my own boss. I figured that if I had worked so hard for someone else for 14 years, then I could certainly leverage my skills, experience, resources and ingenuity to create something of value and be rewarded accordingly.

Today I feel more energized and excited by my work than I ever have in my entire career. I’m doing work that feels creative and fun, I get to work with people who I deeply respect and admire, and my security and paycheck is only limited by my own desire and resourcefulness. And this is something that I can happily live with.

How do you define success?
I define success by asking myself two questions on a regular basis.

  1. Am I having the impact I want to have? This question is driven by a deep desire to serve others in a way that feels joyful and congruent. In other words, as long as the ripple effect of my work is making the world a better place in a way that feels aligned for me, then I consider it a success.
  2. Am I happy? This might sound a bit selfish, but I’ve spent far too many days just going through the motions and feeling numb about my work. When my head hits the pillow as night, I want to feel alive and happy about the day that just passed and excited about the morning ahead. I’m actually writing this on a return flight from Sedona, AZ, where I spent two days coaching, hiking, laughing, and planning the next version of a client’s dream business. I feel so alive and completely rewarded from this experience. Happiness in my work is no longer a wish. It’s non-negotiable.

Learn more about Michael on his Pregame MVP Profile and his website

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