Many entrepreneurs begin their journey to self-employment without the benefit of a great new product or service, or even an innovative concept. Instead, it’s just a drive to control their own destiny and take full ownership of the fruits of their labor – for better or for worse. Their business model may look strikingly similar to that of their old 9-to-5 employer or they may not quite have a business model at all. Yet somehow, there are countless success stories from this subset of entrepreneurs and nearly all of them share some basic characteristics. The most durable entrepreneurs are able to push hard, fail quickly, and network aggressively – all the time.
Fake it ‘Til You Make It
Whether you are pushing a novel business concept or simply marketing a specific skill set that you know will help your customers, self-confidence and credibility will carry you farther than you think. And both of those traits are more learned than ingrained in most people. If you take the time to thoroughly understand both your subject matter and your target audience, you’ll immediately find yourself in a position to influence potential decision-makers and opportunities will quickly begin to materialize. Some aspects of entrepreneurship involve trying to make something out of nothing or making the seemingly impossible possible. The best among us can accomplish these things without revealing just how crazy it can get at times.
Failure has always been the best teacher in the world of business. But the problem many new business owners encounter is recognizing exactly when an idea or a strategy should be let go in favor of a new approach. Nothing can drain the finances or the morale of a startup faster than clinging to a failing business model. Even strong business leaders and intuitive entrepreneurs struggle to walk away from strategies or products that they’ve invested so much time and effort in. It’s the ability to embrace that failure as the first huge step in the right direction that very often separates winning businesses from the losers.
The most critical component in the success through failure approach is understanding why failure occurred and how to correct in the next iteration. This requires structured processes and disciplined analysis in order to be implemented effectively and the most successful companies will have these systems in place from the outset.
It’s Who You Know
Regardless of whether you are a new business owner, an aspiring entrepreneur, or even someone who is absolutely thrilled in their traditional corporate career path, networking can make a huge difference in how far you go. New business owners can quickly get lost in the details of developing their products or ideas to the extent that telling everyone they know about their new venture never quite happens. And that is a huge mistake. The first litmus test for any new venture is bouncing it off of friends and trusted colleagues who might be able to give you an honest assessment of whether you are onto something worth pursuing.
And beyond that most basic introduction, it is through active and dedicated networking that you can evangelize a new company, a new approach, or even a new skill that may simply help you land on your feet if your big idea happens to fail.