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Innovation and passion are at the core of every great business, but making your dream a reality requires some fundamental ingredients for success. Of course, there’s the paperwork, and then the difficulty involved in raising capital. But many wide-eyed wantrepreneurs forget about the importance of research and testing to fine-tune their approach.
I’ve had the opportunity to fail, fail, and fail again before finally meeting success with my own series of startups. Below I’ll share a few observations from my experience, which will hopefully help you kick-start your entrepreneurial journey with fewer scrapes and bruises.
1. Read Veraciously
As Aldous Huxley once said: “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Do not become one of the many wantrepreneurs that launch into the entrepreneurial life without paying homage to some of the greatest of all inventors, innovators, and business managers. They’ve written books and created tools to communicate their knowledge to the masses.
All you have to do in order to gain the knowledge of your forefathers is listen. Start by reading the following (in no particular order):
- Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs“
- Mark Cuban’s “How to Win at The Sport of Business“
- Henry Ford’s “My Life & Work“
- Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People“
- Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad“
- Thomas Stanley’s “The Millionaire Mind“
- Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“
While this is not an exhaustive list of the great works that can make you a better entrepreneur and self-starter, they have helped me immensely on my journey.
2. Persistence and Focus
What do I mean when I say “persistence and focus”? Well, it’s quite simple. You need to focus on one thing that you’re skilled at. Give it all you have, and then some. You’d be surprised at what you tend to subconsciously hold in reserve. Continue to push through the difficulties, without losing focus on your core competencies.
Define your goals, focus on achieving one at a time, and don’t give up until the goal is accomplished. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” There is very little in this world that can stop someone with a singular focus, and the tenacity to see the goal through to the end.
3. Cover Your Legal Vulnerabilities
While you’re focusing on your goal and achieving great things, it’s easy to let your business drive get ahead of your legal protection. Before attacking a new business concept or building a brand, pay careful attention to your Articles of Incorporation, patent filings, and trademark registrations. You must protect yourself, or someone else may cash in on your hard work and leave you without both resources and legal recourse.
As Graeme Donnelly, Founder of Quality Formations once said in an interview, “The risks associated with improperly filed paperwork are directly proportional to the success of your business. Every win and every financial gain associated with an improperly registered corporation extends the risk that much further.”
Don’t let the simple act of forgetting to dot some I’s and cross some T’s put your hard work at jeopardy. Invest in quality legal representation and proper financial accounting / filing. In the world of business, an ounce of legal protection is worth a hundred pounds of legal frustrations and emotional anguish.
4. Identify Your Core Competencies and Weaknesses
I mentioned a moment ago that you must focus on your core competencies and apply them towards your primary goal. In order to focus on your core competencies, you need to compensate for your weaknesses. I have yet to meet a perfect human being. This is why in the bible it all starts with Adam and Eve. You need to have a partner that can share the burden and add value to your efforts.
Ideally, this partner will be someone that can fill in your shortcomings and help you achieve greatness. Don’t waste your energy on the things that do not come easily to you when you could simply hire or partner with the talent necessary to get the job done correctly and hassle-free.
Once you’ve surrounded yourself with winners that complement your skillset, you’ll be in a stronger position to unlock your full potential.
5. Create an Online Presence from the Start
Do not wait to secure your online identity until your business is fully operational. One of the first steps in market research is ensuring that your business’ proposed name or brand is fully available online. This means every domain name and online concept that’s related to the name of your business must be acquired.
Secure your namesake online, and then invest in an amazing website. Your website is a virtual introduction to your brand and the quality of the service you provide. Don’t let that first impression fall-short. With a strong online presence, you’ll be able to sell yourself as a competent provider of products and services with far less resistance. Remember, according to Google, 88% of your customers will research your brand online as part of the sales process. Is your brand putting its best foot forward online?
Feature image: Ken Teegardin via Flickr.