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Operating in the 'Unknown' is Why This Entrepreneur Started a Business

Entrepreneurship often requires the founder to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

Wendi Burkhardt knows that firsthand. The co-founder and CEO of Silvernest, a homesharing service targeted primarily towards seniors, says that working within a defined role just didn’t suit her – so, naturally that meant becoming an entrepreneur. 

“I knew a long time ago that I prefer to create and build things, rather than operate in a well-defined environment,” she tells Entrepreneur

wendi burkhardt of silvernest

Seems like starting a business does indeed suit her: Boulder, Colo.-based Silvernest was recently ranked in our annual Entrepreneur 360™ List, being named as one of the best entrepreneurial companies in the U.S. The booming startup currently boasts over 1,400 members within its service and has listings in 12 states and counting.

Burkhardt will be a featured panelist in the upcoming 2016 Entrepreneur 360™ Conference, happening on November 16 in Long Beach, Calif. Learn more about this seasoned business owner in a short Q&A below. 

This interview was lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

What’s the riskiest move you’ve taken in your business? Any lessons learned?
Burkhardt: Becoming an entrepreneur has been my greatest risk, and I believe it’s the greatest risk someone could ever take. Along the way, I’ve learned that being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. You have to have a certain affinity for working without structure. I knew a long time ago that I prefer to create and build things, rather than operate in a well defined environment. I am much better at operating in the “unknown” than I am within a completely defined position. It’s important to know this about yourself relative to your role.

Another big lesson is that it’s all about the numbers, and you better like dealing with numbers to be an entrepreneur because it’s where you’ll spend 90% of your time and attention.  

What milestone are you most proud of?
Burkhardt: I’m very proud of closing a seed funding round for Silvernest because it’s the hardest round to close. Another major feat that we recently accomplished is achieving a 64% month-over-month growth rate in homeowner signups, which is a number that we’ve been focused on growing in our first year in business. On a bigger scale, I’m grateful and proud of launching another startup and surviving.

How has the closest person in your life inspired you and your business?
Burkhardt: That would be my husband. He’s a long-time entrepreneur and he taught me how to look at business and finance from a different lens.

What’s your morning routine like?
Burkhardt: On a good day, I try to meditate or sneak in a work out in the morning. On a normal day, I get up, walk the dog and try to get in a balanced breakfast before I check my email. When I’m working from my home base, I typically start off with some quiet time going through my emails. When I’m commuting, it’s usually phone calls instead. 

What are some items that are essential to efficiently run your business or life?
Burkhardt: First and foremost is a strong understanding of your goals and a solid roadmap – where do you want to go and how will you get there? It’s also critical to have a well designed budget, as well as a strong team both personally and professionally. I must say that good wine doesn’t hurt either!

Wendi Burkhardt will appear on stage with many other successful business owners and thought leaders, including restaurateur and TV personality Eddie Huang, on November 16 in Long Beach, Calif. for the second annual Entrepreneur 360™ Conference. Seating is limited, so be sure to secure your seat at this exclusive event today.

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