Starting a business is not for the weak at heart. A big bright idea for a product or service is not enough to create success. Are you a real entrepreneur?
Being in business takes execution; not the kind Mark Twain spoke about:
Did you hear about the execution? No, but I am in favor of it, said Twain.
Execution for a small business is about putting together a plan for producing and delivering the good or service you intend to make. Yet selling ice to an Eskimo is not necessarily the right thing to do. Just because you are intent on an idea, the rest of the world out there may have no need for that thing.
I experienced this personally a few years ago. In the late 90’s the whole global outsourcing craze was in full swing. Companies large and small were either using it or trying to figure out how to do it. In a consulting capacity, I helped two large companies build domestic outsourcing platforms. Then, after what I believed were successful exits from those engagements. I pulled together some investors to start my own company. The business model had been perfected, or so I thought.
My company slowly grew and seemed like it might turn the corner, but the process was painful. Clients were few and far between. The value proposition seemed to take a lot of convincing to get buyers. Lead times were long, so sales acquisition was costly. I had plenty of competition because several other companies were in the market, including the previous two I had helped build.
Sadly, the U.S. recession of 2008 hit and my business closed. Today, when I study the landscape, there are no remnants of the outsource model I and my competitors were selling. None. The service was clearly not one the market needed or wanted. However, some very smart people with a lot of money had ventured down that path together thinking our ideas about domestic outsourcing were the cure for all things bad that outsourcing had become in those days. (PS – I am not knocking outsourcing, I still believes it serves a great purpose under the right circumstances).
The idea alone was not enough to create success.
So, what is the entrepreneur to do? First thing is to get over yourself. Kudos that you are bold with your idea. Great! That’s a good step one. Once the business is put in motion you have to throttle any ego that goes with it. Yes, you have to stay on course as the chief visionary and evangelist for your idea. You have to sell it everywhere you go. There is no denying that.
However, your ego cannot become a stumbling block to progress. As soon as you decide to hire your first wave of employees, you have layers of challenges that are exponential in proportion. Your pride might just be the biggest hurdle you have to overcome. What if one of those new employees comes up with an idea that is just slightly better than the one you started with?
Stifling contributions from the team you put around you is a certain way to kill the business. Instead you must build a culture where the people you hire are fitting into valuable seats at the table. Each seat should have a clear and defined reason for being there. Hiring your brother in law is a bad idea unless he can serve a dedicated function that has value.
As an entrepreneur you’ll have plenty of naysayer’s. Sometimes the negative comments should be heard. Maybe you are being told your precious idea is a stinker. Yes, you have to filter this kind of input carefully. On one hand you should not be easily discouraged. If you are, then maybe you are not cut out for the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
However, in the face of criticism, you might hear some great alternative thoughts about how to proceed. Pay attention. Process the good ideas and throw away the bad ones.
Be ready to face change. Just because your idea was launched, there will always be changes. Handling change is positive ways is vital to you effort to sustain your growth. Keep learning. When mistakes happen, and they will, learn from them. Study them. Do after action reports. Make adjustments to your process and your procedures.
Above all, be willing to change YOU!! Keep growing as an owner. If you find you don’t know what you don’t know about running a business, find a business coach or mentor to review your whole operation, top to bottom. Get a health check on your business.
Then fix the things that are broken or missing. Patch the holes. Strengthen your foundation.
As your budding baby idea of a business begins to grow, keep looking for the edge. Finding the edge is the optimum ways to deliver on your idea whether it is a product or service. Be sure customers are coming back. Use their experience in trading with you to learn about their interests and buying habits. Why did they choose you? What was it that attracted them? Can you repeat that experience for others?
Right now, I am helping independent business owners with what I call the $10K Challenge. Give me 45 minutes to review your business with you. I guarantee I can find $10,000 for you. Wouldn’t that be worth your time to explore?
Hi, I am Doug Thorpe. Author, speaker, entrepreneur, and business coach.