Many employees dream of starting a business
. For some, a startup is where their heart is – or at least that’s where they think it is. The reality is that startups can be damned hard work – even demoralising at times. One week you can be closing the second round of funding and the next; your lead developer decides to move to India to ‘find himself’. You see, startups aren’t like ordinary businesses. Their business models, employees and goals can be wildly different from traditional business. Startups have technology and innovation at their core, big visions of the future and their business models are built to scale. Entrepreneurs are not interested in making the ordinary better. They are looking to abandon old assumptions, disrupt current methods and kick status quo in the face.
The Power’s in the Passion
Regardless of whether you are an investor, employee or founder, you crazy entrepreneurs have many things in common such as your insatiable appetite for risk, incredible resilience, undying passion and laser focus. Your passion guides you. I admire that. I get it. I’ve done it. I’m doing it and I’ll probably continue to do it – right along-side you. You’re definitely not the only one that believes passion is key. Steve Jobs asserted the importance of an entrepreneur’s passion when he said: “you have to do it over a sustained period of time, so if you don’t love it, if you aren’t having fun doing it – you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up”. Biz Stone from Twitter has a similar view, and once said “Failure is much more likely if you don’t love what you’re doing”. So if your heart’s really not in it. It may be worth asking yourself why you’re doing it. If what you’re doing is not your passion, it is still possible to reach your personal goals. However, that lack of passion can make those late nights, deadlines, contract disputes, shareholder meetings a little harder to handle.
Before you start, you need to know where you’re heading. This cliché is accurate. Allow me to put that phrase in the context of startups. When starting, a lot of entrepreneurs are focused on their product, their audience and building their company – but not always where their company is headed. You must decide on the ultimate purpose of your startup, then create a vision of the future. You need to communicate your vision to everyone within your company. Your vision should be big. Think about exactly where you want to be. Why do you want to start (or continue) with your business.
Believe it or not, some companies I work with aren’t usually focused on taking over the world. Many just want to fulfil a dream in a niche that they are passionate about, travel two months each year and make $1m. If that sounds like you, that is perfectly OK. Do some soul searching and really think about what you want. It is easy to fall into the mindset of taking over the world after reading all the books and listening to all the podcasts from international experts. Contrary to what they say, an IPO is not the only indicator of success. Especially if you value lifestyle and family as I do. On the other hand, if you do want to get that Unicorn status. Great! It is going to take a lot of work and it will take time. Either way, Start-Up and Scale is the perfect place for you to start.
What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared for the unexpected and be able to deal with issues under pressure. Being able to think on your feet and adapt to sudden changes is something that will serve you well. If you’re persistent, focused and have a sense of drive you will fare much better than someone who’s easily upset, offended or easily discouraged. If you’re an entrepreneur you’re going to run into challenges, but you must not mistake those challenges for failures. And remember, challenges must be addressed, head-on. Burying your head in the sand is a recipe for disaster. You need to see challenges for what they are, but not worse than what they are. So, when you invariably come across a challenge, view it as a speed bump on the road to where you are heading, rather than a brick wall. You may be surprised at the number of setbacks successful business owners had to endure prior to reaching their goals!
“Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
Being able to move towards a goal, even when stumbling over temporary setbacks is something that separates the successful founder from the not-so-successful. Successful founders are also visionaries. They have a single-minded focus on achieving what they set out to do. They have an uncanny ability to have certainty in their outlook and strategy. Another quality of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to see the big picture and to play the long game. It is a mistake to only focus on short term strategies.