Monday, February 6, 2023

7 Mindsets for Succeeding as an Aspiring Entrepreneur

aspiring-entrepreneur-successEvery business professional I know, or have met in my consulting role, has given serious thought to the alternative of switching to the entrepreneur lifestyle, pursuing a long-standing dream, and controlling their own destiny. They ask me for a perspective on the pros and cons of that dream, the potential for increased satisfaction, and the probability of their long-term growth and success.

I’m convinced that the answer to that question is a personal one, and you need to look more inward than outward for the answer. All I regularly do is offer some personal anecdotes and lessons from my own experiences, and recommend that you do your own research on the experiences of others who have been on the many sides of the business equation.

In that context, I was pleased with the guidance and real data presented in a new book, “Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution,” by Uri Levine. He has built more than a dozen businesses and seen everything ranging from failure to immense success. He offers a handbook of lessons for what to expect in business, from initial ideas to funding, growth, and possible exits.

In my view, here are several key takeaways that you can compare to your own perspective, to see if you have the mindset, determination, and patience to migrate to this business lifestyle:

  1. Building a startup is a journey of failures to success. The most important rule to increase the likelihood of success is to try more ideas, and the way to try more is by failing fast. This approach will give you more time and run rate to find what works best for you. Sometimes you need to focus on the next idea rather than saving the current one.

  2. There is no such thing as a surefire or bad idea. Every idea has merit and risk. I have seen great ideas fail, due to timing or poor execution, and poor ideas laid out perfectly, and morphed into absolute brilliance. The winners are the ideas that cause enough customers today to pull out their wallet and lay down their money to pay for solutions.

  3. You have to cater to many different user categories. There are at least three relevant groups of users to start: innovators, early adopters, and early majority. But don’t forget the even larger group which follows, called the late majority. The biggest challenge is that a user from one category can’t even realize that there are other users not like them.

  4. To survive, you need to find a product-market fit. Product-market fit (PMF) is all about value creation. You need to create great value for many people to succeed, else you will die. For consumers, this is how many users try the solution, and are still using it three months later. For business solutions, it’s about expanding usage and renewing contracts.

  5. Find an idea that matches your set of values. The key to work satisfaction in the long-term is living your core values. For example, if saving the environment is your passion, look for a business and customers that thrive on the same values. This will put the right team in your life, keep you motivated, and prevent decisions that will get you into trouble.

  6. Firing sooner is more important than hiring quickly. If everyone knows that someone at the company is not right, and management does nothing, top-performing staff will leave. For every person you hire, after the first and third month, you must ask yourself, do I still agree with this hire? Remember that people join companies, but they leave people.

  7. Decide early on your exit, right time and conditions. Exiting your company will be the most extreme transition of your life. Think about it positively, what the day after is going to look like for you and your team. Resist the urge to commit to stay forever, be prepared to let go of your baby, and consider the associated alternatives, such as starting a new idea.

The processes and requirements for building new ventures are far different from those of most existing professionals, so think seriously about these takeaways before you step into a new set of responsibilities and expectations. Yet, in my experience, the people who pursue the new venture alternative are generally more satisfied than all the rest. Life is too short to not have fun. Go for it!

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 1/23/2023 ***



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