Most entrepreneurs will admit that when they got started in their first business, they did not spend a whole lot of time on doing their homework. Most serial entrepreneurs have had multiple business failures too, and it does not bother them one bit. That’s because the entrepreneur is usually focused on action, not research. A great metaphor for an entrepreneur’s thinking and some tips to navigate the unknown looks like this:
Imagine driving down the road at night. The headlights on your car light up the next 200 yards of the highway, and even going 70 mph, you feel confident that you could maneuver around any obstacles, pull off the road, or even stop completely in those 200 yards.
So, as long as you can see 200 yards ahead, you feel confident to drive the speed limit, in the dark, safe in the knowledge that you can handle anything that shows up in your path.
An entrepreneur’s business is the same. they do not need to know what is going on a mile ahead. In fact, most of the time they cannot possibly know what is waiting for him a mile down the road. But they have the confidence that they can handle anything that shows up in the foreseeable future.
However, most entrepreneurs will also tell you that when they started their first business, they found all kinds of obstacles in their way and spent way too much of their time, money, and energy trying to avoid them. Some eventually succumbed to those obstacles. Their business floundered, misfired, and eventually stopped altogether.
With the benefit of hind sight, it is easy to see why some things do not work as expected.
● If only they had the opportunity to drive that route in the daylight, when they could see everything.
● If only they could have talked to people who travel that route daily.
● If only they had done their homework BEFORE they encountered the obstacles!
The business might still have failed, but look at the time, money, and energy that would have been saved.
● Good entrepreneurs learn very well from their own mistakes.
● Seasoned entrepreneurs learn even better from other people’s mistakes!
The absolute best entrepreneurial minds who have started and owned multiple businesses seek out others who have ‘been there, done that.’ They are always trying to be more efficient, more effective, and quicker in all that they do. For entrepreneurs, speed is always more appealing.
They want to find the guy who made the path and ask him how they did it:
● How long did it take?
● How much did it cost?
● If they had to do it over again, what would they do differently?
They want to find out exactly what worked and what did not, so they can take the best tried and tested strategies, improve on them, and create a new track of their own to run on. They always like to create their own path.
One of the best skills any entrepreneur can develop is the skill of asking great questions. Then make sure to listen to the answers. Not only will it save you time, money, and energy, but you will also learn and grow in direct proportion to the number and quality of the questions you ask. Learning how to ask effective questions bodes very well for talking to future partners, customers, and people who are likely to endorse you and promote your business.
When you engage with someone for the first time, there is always the temptation to tell, tell, tell. However, if you ask, ask, ask instead, you will create a more compelling impression, and they will never forget you.
Doing your homework means finding out exactly what works and what does not. However, it is important to be aware that not every strategy works for everyone all the time. In fact, you will find that there are some strategies in growing a business that do not fit you at all.
You will always need alternatives that are a good fit for you.
But you do need to have an awareness of everything that works, even if you are not using that strategy. You might need to collaborate with someone one day who turns out to be a poor fit for all the strategies that you’ve found to work so well for you but are brilliant at using all the strategies that don’t fit you at all. This happens more often than you might think.
An essential part of building a business is finding techniques that work well for business partners or team members, even if they are opposite to your own best efforts. This can build an incredibly strong overall business strategy.
Mindset is everything when it comes to starting and growing a business. The strategies for building your business are usually very straightforward and easy to grasp. What makes the difference is the mindset and the application of those strategies with consistency, determination, and enthusiasm for long enough to reap long-term rewards.
Matt Willis discusses the challenges of building a product quickly without painting the the team into deep technical debt. What is an MVP? Should one build for scale or for a proof of concept? Get insight into product and engineering challenges as well as other topics.
Welcome to our very first issue of ACCELER8, a monthly publication from the team of entrepreneurs at Startup Alpha. Each issue will include a variety of value-based content focusing on business, technology, self-improvement, and noteworthy startup news.