Will you do what others won’t? Will you do what others think is crazy?
People come to me with ideas all the time. Some are terrible, some quite amazing – ideas they feel will change the world. But, what does it take to reach this level? What are you willing to give? The idea is a start, but it’s not going to get you to the finish line.
Before starting our first company (my brother and I are on number three in the last fifteen years), I can remember talking to a friend about the fact I was going to jump ship from my good gig at a research organization to go and start my own company. Upon hearing this, many responded with “are you crazy? The economy is in the tank!” Sure, the economy wasn’t the greatest, but is it ever? Yet, if you’re determined, if you hustle and bring something unique to the table, any point could be the perfect time to start a company.
So, I chose that route, and along with my brother, put a stake in the ground and pulled the trigger. We sought out to sell whatever we could to buy the right gear. Sadly, this included my beloved Harley. But, you have to do what it takes to start your empire.
We worked tirelessly. Our small group, comprised of incredible minds, assembled in a garage apartment I had moved into in an effort to keep costs down. Through it all, we built what we could and hit the road looking for someone to believe in us. Stats were thrown our way left and right – some that would make others crumble: 1 in 10,000 companies looking for capital are successful. Well, too bad for them. Good for us – we will be that “1”.
To make it in entrepreneurship, it takes unwavering conviction. You must be so committed to your company that someone will have to pry it away with a crowbar overlaid with barbed wire before you admit defeat. Are YOU that committed?
Now, while your determination is critical, listening is just as important. You should look at feedback as a gift. Ego has no place in entrepreneurship. If you are too proud to listen, no one will want to work with you. This doesn’t mean you fold every time someone disagrees with you – use this as a data point. All in all, listening increases your chance to better your organization.
Also, in today’s world, you must be technically brilliant. Fortunately, w thanks to my brother, I have been blessed in this capacity. With fifteen years under our belts together, I know we have it nailed when it comes to technology. But, if you’re just graduating from one of the many graduate programs where they pump you up and tell you what a great favor you will do joining the entrepreneur world, you better have some game to back it up.
Technology start-ups are COMPLICATED. You need the technical chops at the table to help make informed decisions. Especially in a start-up – you need to question everything. If you (or one of your founders) don’t have both the business and tech knowledge in those discussions you’re bound to look silly in the not too distant future.
That’s when you look to get help. Even the brightest of minds need perspective. Choose wisely. Find folks that have battle scars, not just trophies. Learning about failure is a valuable lesson and one of the best ways to avoid it. Advisory boards are a huge help and with valued board members these partners can make all the difference.
So, to come full circle, ask yourself these two questions: Will you do what others won’t? Will you do what others think is crazy? If so, let’s see what you got. If you want to get in the game, do it with some passion, conviction, intelligence and leave your ego at the door. Find valuable assets to help you on your run. Because in the end, it’s not about winning every discussion, it’s about building something that eventually is much bigger than you.
If you can’t do that, then this life ain’t for you.
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