156: Dr. Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University


Dr. Jeff Cornwall is a lifelong entrepreneur and educator. A mentor to our own Kevin Jennings, Dr. Cornwall led the entrepreneurship program at Belmont University, an organization that is nationally known for its curriculum, creating some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs. Dr. Cornwall was recently named entrepreneurship educator of the year by the United States Small Business and Entrepreneurship Association. This week, Kevin sat down with Dr. Cornwall to talk about refining our abilities to be entrepreneurial.

Three Takeaways

Find Your Passion Outside of Money

The best way to point ourselves in the direction of entrepreneurship is to link our passions with our day to day. We’ve all heard the stories of those who take their business from a scrappy garage startup to a multibillion dollar behemoth seemingly overnight, but Dr. Cornwall cautions us that entrepreneurship as a whole is not a sound strategy if your end goal is making a lot of money. Instead, your entrepreneurial passion should be the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. The path of an entrepreneur is not easy, and is often littered with dangers. If you can line up your passion to your spirit, you will have a reason to keep fighting when it seems like an uphill battle.

Find Your Risk Tolerance

If you are averse to risk, an entrepreneurial path is probably not for you. You don’t need to be the kind of wild, throw it all on the table risk-taker that we sometimes think about when we think of business innovators, but you have to be ok with the idea that your enterprise might go the opposite direction of where you want. There are a great deal of uncertainties within entrepreneurship, but there are certain personalities whose risk aversion may not make them the ideal candidates.


There is often a long timeline between enterprise launch and viability. It’s not uncommon to toil for years before the market comes around to innovation. Find a way to keep your projects afloat and continue to grind away. Understand that failure is a possibility, but that failure in and of itself does not mean the end. There is always going to be a chance to dust yourself off and try again.


Entrepreneurial Financial Management - Dr. Jeff Cornwall

Steve Blank - books and blog The Lean Startup, The Business Model Canvas

Understanding Business Models - Osterwalder

Lean Business Models - Ash Moria

Reese - how to pivot