What entrepreneurs have in common
If you are an entrepreneur, chances are that you are intensely driven, totally in love with your chosen profession or borderline insane, and I’m betting it is a combination of all of the three that led you to take a leap of faith and start your business. It’s not too hard to start a business, nor is it a bad business plan or a crazy idea. It simply takes a certain type of person.
The most persistent personal characteristic I have noticed in entrepreneurs, even more than the above three, is optimism. It is inspiring, motivating and joyous to be around these eternal optimists who believe they can take on the world and win. This is why I do what I do. This is why I am so passionate about helping start-ups. This wonderful trait, though, can be the downfall of your company if you are not careful.
Entrepreneurs must balance their optimism with a keen understanding of reality, markets, their own capabilities and their environment.
Just about every company starts with a dream, be it a world-changer, a local corner store or something in between. This dream inspires you, and you need to use it to inspire others. You need believers – to help shape your company, finance it and see it through. You need to wake up every day just as passionate about your dream as the day you first had it.
The Balancing Act
As you plan to launch your business you need to understand the all-encompassing reality of the world that your dream lives in. Are there places where your dream just doesn’t make sense in the current economic times, or for your target customer? Do you have the time, capital and intellectual firepower on your team to develop the needed intellectual property to go after your dream? Do you have the people you need to go after the dream?
In most cases one or more of these “reality type questions” has a “no” answer or at least some qualifications to the answer. This is ok. This doesn’t mean that you need to give up on your dream or become any less passionate about it. It does mean that you have some work to do, though. At this stage, most entrepreneurs benefit greatly from a partner or mentor – someone with more experience in the industry and/or with successful start-ups.
Now, while maintaining the sprit and energy of the original dream, and adding in a strong understanding of your internal and external environments, craft your strategic plan. Plan for your dream’s reality, and not just the dream. Set big and aggressive goals based on reality, and not your dream. Finally, build your team and lead them in executing to your reality, and not to your dream.
Don’t Stop Believing
Don’t be afraid to continue to dream and to believe in yourself, but make sure you have a counterbalance to keep you in reality when you make strategic and tactical plans. If you can commit to a good balance, and keep your business rooted in reality, then you and your team can be confident that your goals are realistic and attainable. Rather than wonder “what if,” you can focus one hundred percent on execution.
One more characteristic shared by entrepreneurs: they show an amazing tolerance for risk. But that’s a topic for another day…