2020 threw a major curve ball for start-ups across the globe, many of which struck out in terms of being able to adapt to current circumstances. However, those who had the flexibility to pivot and find a way to keep the business afloat will begin to open up back up sooner than a lot of people may think. As leaders begin to allow their states to re-open in phases, many start-up CEO’s and founders are left to face the daunting task of rebooting their businesses. If they want any chance of survival during this stage, they must face a few harsh realities about moving forward in the future.
After thirty years in the business, here’s my observation: most start-up founders are a bunch of inexperienced, arrogant people who for the most part are terrible at making money because they make fundamental mistakes. However, this global pandemic has opened up a much needed attitude adjustment for start-up owners and hopefully shifted their focus on what’s important, starting with being brutally honest with themselves. As you push forward with rebooting your business, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
Creativity And Passion Can’t Always Save You
While creativity is a great attribute to have, creativity alone will not guarantee success. I’m approached every year by hundreds of entrepreneurs who mistakenly believe that their unique or original idea is what’s going to make them rich. They don’t understand that a sustainable business has very little to do with the idea and more about the choice of market and value proposition. The success of your business depends on the execution of things. You can have the most original idea or the most innovative product, however if your in a bad market or lack the right business plan, you’ll find yourself facing a handicap that will be damn near impossible to overturn.
As for passion, the idea that all you need is passion for your ideas or products to make them succeed is quite frankly, a load of crap. I have seen too many founders so blinded by passion for their initial product or service that they were incapable of pivoting or changing even when the market is screaming at them to. The trick is to get passionate about product-market fit, not about the product as it is today. You must be willing to keep tweaking until you find the fit.
Check Your Ego At The Door
Having an ego is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, Webster’s defines ego as self esteem. Entrepreneurs need a healthy ego to succeed because you must believe in yourself and be confident in your ability to build a business. However, having too much of an ego will ultimately hinder you. A bloated ego can cause you to reject new information, make decisions based on public opinion verse what’s best for your company, and block your ability to adapt and change as needed. Part of the problem is that many entrepreneurs feel the pressure to have all the answers all the time. That is stupid. Nobody knows everything, especially today when markets and technologies can change so fast. So don’t make the egotistical mistake of associating ignorance about a certain topic with weakness. It’s only a weakness if you are unwilling to admit you need to learn.
What’s The Point In Secrecy?
Stop being so ridiculously secretive about your precious ideas. So many entrepreneurs are terrified someone will steal their idea. This is one of the most stupid beginner blunders and shows a real lack of business sophistication. The odds of you coming up with a genuinely never-before-thought-of idea or concept is slim to none. Smart founders should, in fact, do the exact opposite and talk about their value-proposition to everyone out there to perfect their ideas. You need good feedback to help you craft out your plans and objective opinions can point out flaws that you may have been blind to. But that also brings me to my next point…
Stop Accepting Bad Advice From Your Loved Ones
You are not helping yourself or your company by asking business advice from your best friend or your dear grandpa. That is a terrible mistake (unless they happen to be Oprah and Paul Mitchell respectively). The truth is the people closest to you are blinded by their love for you and can’t really provide objective opinions. Learning how to separate good advice from bad is a learned skill. But a good rule of thumb is to listen to professionals who have been at it much longer than you. Surround yourself with smart financiers and advisors you can trust and pick their brains when you need advice. Also keep in mind that advice is completely subjective. Just because someone has the credentials, doesn’t mean you have to follow their advice. What works for another company may not work for yours and that’s ok! Smart entrepreneurs follow a hybrid of advice, created from suggestions from many professionals. That’s why it is so important to have mentoring conversations with a variety of people. And it’s okay to disagree with someone regardless of their credentials if their advice doesn’t fit your circumstance. Sometimes understanding why their advice won’t work ultimately clarifies the direction you should go.
Ditch The Idea Of Get Rich Quick
Start-ups are a marathon, not a sprint. You’re looking at putting in years and years of hard work to reach success. Even the greatest over-night success stories don’t truly happen over-night, so don’t naively believe your start-up will be the exception. If you don’t have the commitment, patience, or passion, don’t waste your time—and everyone else’s—trying to find an even bigger moron to back your business. But if you invest the time to understand the market, build a motivated team, and learn to execute effectively, then the wealth will come.
If COVID-19 hasn’t been enough to open your eyes to some of the harsh truths of building a successful start-up, let me be the one give you a reality check. Success won’t come fast and it won’t come easy and it definitely won’t come if you keep turning a blind eye to the truths that stand right before you. However, if you live in those truths and build a solid foundation, wealth is just around the corner waiting for you. Go to my online Master Class course https://zshark.freedomforall.io/salespage to learn how to build a business powerhouse.
So go out and get it!