As an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, I see a lot of dreams, but not so many business results. I’m always excited by the dream, and disappointed by what I perceive as a lack of courage in many people to take the actions required to realize the dream. I’ve always wished I had a magic metaphor to motivate the best dreamers to become the best entrepreneurs.
That’s why I’m impressed with the classic book, “All Dreams on Deck: Charting the Course for Your Life and Work,” by Jeremy Cage. He is an experienced business executive, who now leads a consulting initiative which focuses on unleashing the full potential of businesses and people. In his book, he couches his guidance in a real-life metaphor of his sailing trip around the world.
I’m confident this will work for many of you, but since not all of us are sailors, I have tried to reframe his key points here into the business context that I can better relate to. Hopefully, between the two of us, more of you with big business dreams will follow the leads and generate more successful business results:
Start by getting your hands dirty. All glory comes from daring to begin, and that seems to be the hardest part. You are destined to die full of potential if you do not have the courage to make your dream come alive with a prototype, a business plan, and an implementation team. A business entity has to be created and real resources applied.
Venture where no business has gone before. There is no cookie-cutter route to success as an entrepreneur. The business world doesn’t thrive with yet another social media or dating site – it’s begging for paradigm shifts in the technology or business model. Innovative dreams, when implemented, are the ones that change the world.
Never give up in the face of adversity. Turning dreams into reality is never easy. One of the biggest causes of startup failure is simply giving up too early. The best entrepreneurs relish the challenges, and get great satisfaction from overcoming and learning from adversity. They enjoy the journey, as well as the destination.
Ask for help from advisors and mentor your team. People don’t usually need to ask for help with their dreams, but no entrepreneur I know has built a successful business alone. Don’t let your pride or fear keep you from seeking the help that you need. As you gather your team, recognize that they will need your help and coaching as well.
Summon the courage stay optimistic, yet humble. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t just dreamers, they are doers. They wake up each day re-energized and positive, with the courage to take on the next challenge, and always committed to getting things done. In the business world, it is the humble leader that has the greatest influence on results.
Trust yourself and your team in making decisions. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you can dream, but it takes a team to deliver. Yet running a new company cannot always be a consensus-driven process, so you need to trust yourself in making the hard decisions. Your team also has to trust you, or they won’t deliver the alternatives you need.
Practice active listening, and accept reality quickly. In business and in life, you don’t learn much while you are talking. Dreams can be static, but the real world constantly changes. Thus you need to listen and learn the current reality from your customers, your team, advisors, and experts. Good listening leads to timely innovations and pivots.
Make your dreams the shared dreams of everyone. In business, to get from dreams to reality, it takes effective communication with many others, including your team, customers, investors, and partners. Only with effective communication can your dreams become theirs, and theirs become a reality. You can’t impose your dream on anyone.
It’s true that dreams are always fraught with risk, but the ultimate risk is doing nothing at all. My goal is to make your dream come true, and you can’t do that without executing. The time to get started is now. Otherwise your dream will die, no matter what the potential.
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