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Picture this: You are sitting at your desk four o’ clock on a Friday afternoon. Your mind is racing. Surely there must be more to this work thing than the nine to five. I have dreams, goals and I am really getting burnt out here, something has to give. Is it time for me to take the leap and start my own thing?
If this is you, you are not alone. Many people come to this crossroad. My story however, is much different for my journey into starting my own thing began right out of college. I acquired my insurance and securities licenses, signed an office lease, put my shingle on the wall and started prospecting business day one!
Regardless of how you reach your defining moment, I believe there are some common factors that lead each of us to the decision to launch out and claim our piece of the “entrepreneurial dream.” BUT, before you board and set sail on your personal journey, it is important to take a serious look at your vessel, your resources and in particular the resolve to reach your destination. I submit the following pre-launch checklist for your consideration.
Not to start out gloom and doom but the reality is, the odds are not in your favor. The journey of entrepreneurship is not a made for television movie where in a two hour time frame, someone goes from having nothing to owning a successful corner café or launching a world-wide accepted new product or service. According to a recent article in the Gallup Business Journal entitled “Why So Many New Companies Fail During Their First Five Years.” October 23, 2014; 50% of all new start-ups fail in the first five years and 80% fail in the first year.
The good news however is that this same research discovered that the success of a new business had a significant amount to do with the person (that’s you and me) starting the business. The research noted that of the 4,000 entrepreneurs studied, the approach and desire coupled with demonstrated actions clearly were the most heavily determining factors to the success and failures of the new start-ups.
Check Your Map:
It is critical you have a well laid out plan before you start your journey. Hit and miss can destroy you! This does not mean that you have everything figured out…it simply means you have a plan and a purpose to guide through all the “learning moments” you will experience. Your map must be current and provide all the necessary data and resources available regarding your journey. These include your capital, your product, your market, your competition, your support system and any legal issues just to name a few. Imagine beginning a trip to an unfamiliar destination and the key guiding force is outdated, incomplete and lacking critical information to help you get there.
Check Your Stake In the Game:
Knowing your personal value is significant to your outcome, how would you answer the following questions? What is your invested interest in the outcome? Does it matter personally and emotionally as well as financially if you succeed or fail? One of the key ingredients in determining the outcome of a successful business is the level of ownership in the results. Naturally, the more highly invested, the more involved in influencing the outcome. To get a level of the size of your stake in the game regarding your dream, answer the following statements.
1. The most important person I answer to regarding my performance regardless of employment status is me.
2. It really hurts when I fall short and I will do everything in my power to fix it as soon as possible.
3. I experience real joy and satisfaction in great outcomes for others and for myself
4. I am constantly on my own striving to be more productive and I am in a constant learning mode
5. My work matters to me beyond the paycheck
If you are able to unconditionally agree with the statements above, then you possess the attitude and approach as well as the commitment to being highly invested in the outcome. Coupling this with a genuine sense of urgency to succeed will be a great catalyst to launching you in the right direction on your entrepreneurial journey.
Check Your Creativity Meter:
Remember when you were a kid and how easy it was to dream? To take a simple blank pad, a box of crayons and based on the choices you made, draw your masterpiece? Remember how proud you were of your creation and could not wait to share it with others and then be recognized and accepted for your performance? When was the last time you felt like that? If you have not experienced that since your childhood, it would be a great idea to check your creativity meter before you start this journey. These built-in desires we longed for as youth, to build or create something and proudly sign our name to it are still there! I would go as far as to say they are a “MUST-HAVE” for your entrepreneurial trip. We just need to rediscover, develop and re-ignite them.
If your journey is to be a successful one, you must possess the abilities to be creative and think beyond the status-quo. One of the greatest attributes of successful entrepreneurs is their ability to create a distinction between them and their competition. This takes creativity. Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry when he dreamed of building a car that was affordable to everyone. He further expanded this by developing the first of its kind assembly line that influenced the development of those used today. He changed the world…and it all began with one creative thought!
Check Your Decision Making:
How do you make decisions? Are they pain-staking adventures, off the cuff, well thought out or perhaps a combination of both? Regardless, the decisions you make are the transparent results of what your business looks like now and what it will look like in the future.
As I interviewed entrepreneurs from various industries, it became clear that each fully understood they would live with the consequences and outcomes of their choices. If things were going great, it was a result of choices made and implemented that led to the successes. If things were not where they wanted them to be, once again a choice to do or not do something could be clearly identified.
It is critical you become aware of how you make decisions. They create the experiences that influence our habits and our actions. I cannot stress enough the importance of checking your approach and your implementation of decision making.
Check Your Motivation Level. Trial or True Ownership:
How serious are you? Gut check time. Did the idea to launch out come to you on a whim, because you had a bad day? Has this desire been burning inside of you and causing you to lose sleep…is it do or die? Do you have a trial ownership mentality or a true ownership mentality? When things get tough are you sold out to your decision, or are you looking for the box and the shipping instructions to send what you ordered back? In your mind are you at the point where you must be committed and failure is not an option? A trial ownership mentality can be dangerous because it takes on the attributes of true ownership at the beginning of the process. These are serious questions and as indicated in the study referenced above, your motivation must be an “all-in” approach. You need every resource possible to launch successfully.
The key to motivation is that it must be yours…personally. Someone can influence your action to perform such as a supervisor, employer or spouse by suggesting you “pick it up a little” but until you find that personal reason or drive to act and obtain, motivation is just another buzz word everyone likes to talk about.
Once your motivation is solid and sincere, develop your skills and abilities to form great habits and attitudes. Refine your motivation into its proper perspective. This simply means doing the right things with the right people, at the right time. Surround yourself with positive influences and by all means seek help and pursue all opportunities. You must keep your motivation alive, whatever it is because once it’s gone; the dream won’t be far behind.
The list of essentials and processes to successful entrepreneurship are exhaustive. The most important things I have learned from personal experiences as well as learning from others are that this truly is a journey. I have been in business for myself for thirty-one years and while I do not claim to know everything thing there is to know, I can say assuredly the checklists and the decisions made some thirty years ago still guide me today. And when it’s all said and done, if you can glean any insight that will help catapult you favorably on this incredible life long journey, my work is done and I gladly conclude by saying “Welcome Aboard!”
Note: This writing is based upon the recently released book “Unleash Your Entrepreneur Factor”. To learn more about this book and the author, visit www.timtivis.com/resources/books