Are You Ready to Be an Entrepreneurial Leader?
by Rob Wolfe – Connected Places Global
So you have a business idea and are ready to start your journey as an emerging entrepreneur. To ensure you’re ready for the road ahead, you need to have the proper mindset.
I feel there are three primary questions you must ask yourself (and answer) before you get started. Or, if you’ve already started your business venture, use these questions to continually guide you and motivate you.
Do You Welcome Risk and Accept Failure?
“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.”
~ Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. Entrepreneurs must make lots of mistakes to learn and discover new approaches, opportunities or business models. Use failure as a stepping stone. Assume that everything you do is a learning opportunity with new lessons.
“Before you take any sort of risk, always carefully think through everything. Outweigh the pros and cons of those risks,” advises Tara Horner, author on marketing-related topics. “If the pros are plentiful, it makes sense to take such a risk, especially if it means the possibility of reducing losses for your business… when you are willing to take risks and think outside of the box, you are more likely to have success with your business ventures than a non-risk-taker. Weigh your risks carefully, set goals, and take charge. And remember that sometimes a risk may turn out to be a setback. If you continue learning from your mistakes and moving forward, though, your calculated risks will help you reduce losses in the long run.”
Have You Partnered With the Right People?
“I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have.”
~ Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam
Don’t go at it alone. Find one or more partners in whom you believe. Your partners will help you get through the tough times, offer advice, and help you celebrate the little wins. Also, new partners add new ideas to the mix. Find and rely on the resources you need to navigate the obstacles you will encounter along the way, and to get feedback to ensure you remain flexible and innovative. Seek advice and wisdom from those you trust and who have already been through what you’re facing.
Be sure you know what you don’t know, and be open to finding the right person/people who can help educate you and ensure you get varying perspectives on your options and actions. Consider partnering with a seasoned mentor or business advisor—possibly, someone who has started their own business and successfully grown it.
According to Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, the number one thing startups need to do “is to build a team, and not necessarily a paid one.” Goodman believes startups particularly need people they can count on, whether it’s an informal board of advisors, peers, a formal board or a mentor.
Are You 100% Devoted?
“Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
Embrace your passion and don’t lose determination. Entrepreneurship is 10% idea and 90% execution. You need a strong emotional commitment and a focus on persistence. Find a way around every obstacle and never give up on your mission—even though you can expect it to evolve or change along the way. Stay flexible and don’t hesitate to change your product or service idea or business model to adapt to a changing business environment, new technologies, or ever-shifting client/customer expectations. Those who devote themselves fully and consistently to their new business idea to move it forward are already ahead of most other entrepreneurs.
“We were told ‘no’ by venture capitalists over 50 times before we closed our Series A round,” says Andrew Laffoon, cofounder of the online custom photo book company, Mixbook. “They told us to change our business model, to change our technology, to switch markets, even to switch to a “video advertising” startup. Ultimately, our persistence paid off.”…”Accept at the outset that you’ll probably have to knock on hundreds of doors before you’ll find the ones that open. Advisers will want you to change your plan. Customers won’t buy your product. But if you can take that rejection as a gift—an opportunity to learn, improve and persist—it can lead to an advantage.
Do you feel there are any other questions that are more important than these for an emerging entrepreneur to ask before taking the plunge (or to motivate those that have already started down the road to success)?