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Everyone has to start somewhere. Whether he or she works for the largest corporation or the hottest start-up, every entrepreneur starts at square one.
What separates the haves from the have-nots, however, is the path they take after stepping off square one. Though many paths lead to success, some are more direct and have fewer bumps along the way. No one, of course, finds success without encountering a few obstacles. So, below are three tips I share with my clients to help them navigate the startup process and find success.
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Dream big and map it out.
When you are contemplating making the entrepreneurial leap, remember this: It doesn’t take any more effort to dream big than it does to dream small.
Perhaps you doubt your ability to make great things happen. Maybe you don’t want to appear greedy or materialistic. Or, you may feel that you don’t deserve all that being an entrepreneur has to offer. Regardless of the reason, you can’t listen to that voice in your head telling you to play it safe and not dream big.
My most successful clients have developed the ability to dismiss that voice and replace it with an inner dialogue based on visions of what can be. They have the habit of asking themselves, “How can I?” when everyone else is saying, “You can’t do that.” They see opportunities that no one else sees. While others may be quick to point out why their vision will not work, they have the drive to prove those naysayers wrong.
Now, with a big dream motivating you, it is easy to want to go all-in right now. However, before you quit your job, develop a detailed plan for your business. Most entrepreneurs are visionaries with the drive to get things started. But they are easily bored and quick to move on to their next project. By creating a detailed plan for your dream, you learn to hold yourself accountable to yourself and that accountability brings progress. Without a plan, your big dream is just a day dream. With it, it becomes a reality.
Identify your priorities, but be flexible.
As you put your plan together, you'll find it obvious what tasks contribute the most to your business’s success. These are the tasks that must be pursued relentlessly.
One reason entrepreneurs fail is that they fail to properly prioritize their work. By separating the good from the best, you create the focus that would not exist if you pursued everything asking for your time and attention.
As you begin building your business, take time to identify the essential pieces of your business that will sustain your venture and provide the necessary cash flow.
Also, be aware that if you do not prioritize correctly, you run the risk of taking on too much and doing nothing well. Every venture has critical pieces that create the successful outcome. It is when you focus more on the support tasks than the critical ones that you begin watering down your best work.
Designing eye-catching packaging for your product, for example, may help you stand out from the competition, but if you have neglected the necessary legwork to get your product on the shelves in the first place, your efforts will all be for naught.
Fail fast and fail often.
Most entrepreneurs are not risk adverse. If they were, they would still be playing it “safe” in their 9-to-5 jobs. However, in order to be successful, you need to experiment and take chances that may frighten you at first.
If you are reading this in the hopes of not making any mistakes, then you’ve already made your first one. Do not look at mistakes as something to be avoided at all costs, but as unique learning opportunities custom-tailored to you, your circumstances and your business. The more lessons you can learn from in the quickest amount of time, the more you can shorten your learning curve and place yourself in a position to grow your business.
By adopting the mindset of “fail fast and fail often,” you'll begin to leverage the power of iteration -- the process of repeating and refining a process in order to meet a goal.
The ultimate goal for your business is to stay alive and ultimately to thrive. In order to accomplish this goal, you must iterate until you find the “breakthrough” that makes your business a self-sustaining entity.
When you are starting a business, speed is critical for success. The more tightly you can run experiments and the faster you can iterate, the more chances you will provide yourself to find that winning combination. It is that winning combination that helps you become scalable. And scalability is what allows you to realize your big dream.
So, do not be afraid of making mistakes. You have to try, make mistakes, learn and try again. If you try, make a mistake and give up, you will never be the success you could have been.