Let's get real. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Some have the stomach for it, most don't. What separates a real Entrepreneur from the dreamers is the willingness to take the first step, which usually involves spending and risking your own money. Hardly a comfortable notion. Knowing what you're doing, what you're getting into helps alleviate some of the anxiety. When it comes to going after what you love in life, Entrepreneurs don't take no for an answer. The true Entrepreneur understands the risk vs. reward ratio, and lives by the motto … "No Guts, No Glory!"
Learning from people who have already "been there, done that" is the best resource available. But at the end of the day, someone else's experience will not launch your company. It takes fire in your belly, passion and drive, and a deep and abiding belief in your idea and yourself. Nothing less will keep you on course in the turbulent waters that threaten an infant business. During the next few months, we will look at ways to optimize the chances for your start-up business to succeed. Stay tuned for more "NO GUTS, NO GLORY!" articles and tips for aspiring Entrepreneurs based on interviews with successful Entrepreneurs.
Tip # 1: When in doubt, just take a small step forward.
Believe in yourself. This is the first rule of Entrepreneurship. There are enough barriers to starting a business without you questioning your own abilities. Once doubt creeps in, rash and ill-considered decisions are made. The vision loses focus and energy. Fear and doubt have an odor, and people can smell it. It is a natural repellent to investors or potential clients. It's normal to be anxious when you're embarking on a new venture … but don't let them see you sweat!
You are so protective of your idea that you aren't even willing to solicit feedback from your closest friends and family. Stop! Don't be too proud or frightened to ask for help. That's what family and friends are for, to listen to your crazy ideas. Even if they don't see your vision, articulating it helps to refine and strengthen it in your own mind.
Often the biggest impediment to moving forward is the clutter in your own head. Get rid of all that useless baggage, it'll just weigh you down. Live in the moment. Yesterday is a cancelled check, tomorrow is a promissory note – today is cash!
Tip # 2: Grow thick skin.
Take a deep breath. It calms the mind. As Entrepreneurs we already have leadership tendencies, but we confuse that impulse with the need to dictate the vision and fight to maintain its sanctity. Stop! Not every conversation has to end with a kiss. Don't let business become personal. It's a bad practice which leads to bad decisions. Learn to yield, listen, and agree to disagree when the occasion calls for it. Also, if presented with an unfavorable deal, walk away. Leadership is not about being right, it's about accomplishing the objective.
On the flip side, a successful colleague once said, "If I'm the smartest guy in the room, my business is in trouble." Hire talented people and let them shine.
Learn to laugh things off. Time heals all wounds. Give time, time. Everyone makes mistakes, so ask "in five years, will this matter?" Probably not in most cases. Life is too short to waste time staying annoyed and angry. Plus, it's bad business to let anyone else live rent free in your head.
Tip # 3: Don't compare your situation to others.
If we all threw our problems into one pile and saw everyone else's, we'd take ours back.
Often, when the work is overwhelming and nothing is going right, we have a tendency to feel like a victim, wishing we had never started the business. We may be envious of another person's success. Stop! You have no idea what their journey has been like. Envy is worse than a waste of time – it's a corrosive practice that blinds you to the blessings in your own life. You have all you need to unearth your own potential. At this point, go to a trusted friend who has started a business, and have a candid conversation about your situation. Vent with someone. It's far better than licking your wounds in solitude.
All Entrepreneurs have been through what you're experiencing, and most are happy to share some guidance. One of the moral imperatives of success is to lend a hand to the next Entrepreneur coming up, to mentor and inspire future generations of Entrepreneurs. Seek the counsel of experts.
Tip # 4: Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
However good or bad a situation is, one thing is certain – it will change. So, the best course of action is to prepare yourself for every eventuality. Commit your game plan to memory, then factor in all possible scenarios that may arise. Hopefully, you won't face the more dire problems that some start-ups encounter, but being prepared is the best way to combat adversity and sustain a company's prosperity. And when faced with a tough decision, don't agonize over it. A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
As you go with the flow, new ideas will surface. Share credit. Does it really matter where a good idea comes from? Be grateful for any contribution to the success of your company, and acknowledge the source. Ignore the envious, the naysayers. Celebrate the idea because sometimes you're the only one who will. Be the idea champion.
Tip # 5: Don't take yourself too seriously.
Come on, this is meant to be fun. This is what you always wanted. So show it. Smile, it's contagious. Simplify. Some claim it is "lonely at the top". Yes, if you're a tyrant, bully, or a real pain in the neck. But if you respect your employees, treat them like family; running a business can be fun. It's all a matter of your approach and attitude. If you go in with the mentality you are the "boss", then it will be a lonely road, but if you go in with the design you're the leader of a team and inspiration behind the plan, then you will create an environment which fosters growth and prosperity. Let people feel empowered, a sense of ownership, and a sentiment of belonging and being needed.
Confidence is important. Even if you don't feel confident, fake it. Confidence breeds loyalty, excitement and productivity, which are contagious. Panic and fear result in chaos, which will ultimately destroy your enterprise.
In conclusion, I leave you with this … be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to have blue hair. Now go out and have fun. Good luck. Remember, "No Guts, No Glory!"