Entrepreneurial Gold: Setting Expectations

We are an entrepreneurial enterprise. We work with both large and small businesses across the country and around the world. But our heartbeat is for the entrepreneur. The startup. The pioneer. We love the story, the courage, the sheer guts of someone willing to stare at a statistical 80% chance of failure and say, “I will be different.”

Conversations with entrepreneurs and other small business owners are always educational. Our “Entrepreneurial Gold” blogs will attempt to capture some of these bits of wisdom from everyday entrepreneurs. They are regular people, folks you would pass on the street without paying much attention to. But their wisdom is profound. Behind each word and phrase is a story of pain and perseverance. Their warnings are worth heeding. Their encouragement is more valuable than gold.

“Talking to someone who is 3-5 years down the road can create some unrealistic expectations about what life will be like when you’re starting out. Experience comes by living it – fall down, skin your knees, get up, do it again.”

A starry-eyed, would-be entrepreneur may look at someone several years into the process and assume that life just starts that way. Not so, my friend. That person you so admire paid a price to be where they are – a price with which you too will become familiar. Blazing a new trail has more than a few bumps and bruises. But they are more than worthwhile for those who persevere and stay in the fight. Keeping moving forward, and three to five years from now, that will be you. Then you, too, can be the inspiration for the next would-be startup.

“Just do it: There are not many ideas that will not succeed if you will just keep going.”

The entrepreneurial journey rarely follows a straight road. There are long hours, hurt feelings and skinned knees. There are broken hearts, bank accounts full of cobwebs and days when even your biggest fans think you’ve lost your mind. But there are victories, too. There’s the first sale. The first sale you actually get paid for. The first time a customer places a second order. Your first hiring. Your first firing. The days you throw it all away and start over again. It’s all part of the journey. The key is to keep pressing on.

“Do you know how you grow? Is your attention there or somewhere else?”

So many things demand your attention each day, especially in the start-up phase. The ability to prioritize can be lost in a sea of urgencies and the expectations of others. Sometimes your biggest enemy is distraction.

An ancient proverb admonishes us, “Let your eyes look straight ahead.” The reality of life is that you will become what you behold. If your goal is growth, you must keep your eyes on the prize. If you allow your attention to be drawn away from your goal, you will find yourself reaping a harvest far different from what you intended.

“Stay focused on the big picture. A felt need may not be the true need.”

We regularly ask ourselves, “Is this getting us where we want to go? Are we staying true to our mission?” There have been a number of things along the way that seemed to be important parts of our journey. Looking at the big picture, however, we find that while something is appealing, it may not be on track. A quick hire of the wrong person can derail even the strongest visionary. An investment in ancillary business can suck the life out of your core product lines. Moving too quickly to a bigger facility can create headaches (and bills) that unnecessarily slow down operations.

Your vision is “what,” but your mission is “why.” When your decisions and your plans run in a straight line with your mission, there is a synergy that magnifies results. Your confidence grows and your conviction deepens. Your discernment becomes raiser-sharp.

Suddenly, you’re not trying to decide between a good thing and a great thing. Instead, you are looking for what advances the mission. This substantially narrows the field of choices. The decision-making process accelerates, and efficiencies improve.

“He who walks with the wise becomes wise.”

None of us were meant to make this journey alone. Find people who are a few miles ahead on the road you want to travel. Ask questions. Listen. Learn. The wisdom of those ahead will smooth out the bumps in your path – just as your wisdom will help pave the way for those who follow you.

Happy hunting today.


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