I heard some great advice from a very successful entrepreneur. He was rapidly building his third successful business, and we were discussing the many failures we both had been a part of over the years. Needless to say, there were many between us.
Because of his high profile, he related to me that he is often asked by others what a person needs to consider before they set off on becoming an entrepreneur. His answer: “If you have to ask that question, you probably should not become an entrepreneur!”
He has a point. To a high degree, entrepreneurs are born, not made. You are either naturally comfortable with beginning things that have no clear outcome, or you are not.
But don’t worry, if you are not a natural entrepreneur, it does not mean that kind of business is not right for you. Every early-stage business needs a team for it to succeed. And great teams have players with a wide variety of skill sets.
However, if you are the founder, you’re going to need to break a few commonly held rules in order to succeed:
1. Get a lot of advice. Most people are not willing to really tell you what they think. The average person’s appetite for conflict is low, and they are not going to give you the tough love you may need early on. Most people usually aren’t inventive enough to love the outside-the-box idea that is the basis for a successful start-up. Get your advice from other entrepreneurs, not your friends, family or anyone who has not done it before.
2. You must be willing to take a lot of risk. I’m not sure why someone would risk everything to start a business. You certainly hear stories of that working out. But, more often than not, taking on too much risk will constrain thinking and lower your chances of success. Finding an inventive way to get something done for less might actually turn out to be a better strategy than shooting for the moon with all you have.
3. Delegate early on. Yes, as you grow you will have to give up more and more responsibility. But early on, think like a mother bird…closely watch your baby business! The early challenges you will face are so great, only a founders’ love is going to be strong enough to ensure the organization survives. Stay very close to your business—from every hire the company makes to how the books are handled.
Yes, you probably already intuitively understand these points if you’re inclined to start things. You alreadyare comfortable with the uncomfortable. You know that most people don’t understand you, and you don’t really care. You would rather fail fast to get to the right answer, than succeed slowly. Swimming upstream is the natural direction for you.
Few people get you. But at Marketing Architects, we do.