Learning from Entrepreneurs: Can you see the road ahead?
Most entrepreneurs will admit that when they got started in their “first” business, they didn’t spend a whole lot of time on doing their homework! Many entrepreneurs have had multiple business failures too, and although it may bother some, the ability to learn, move on, or pivot as I say on is common in all those successful.
A great metaphor for an entrepreneur’s thinking looks like this:
Imagine driving down the road at night. The headlights on your car light up the next 200 yards of the highway, and even going 70 mph, you feel confident that you could maneuver around any obstacles, pull off the road, or even stop completely in those 200 yards.
So, as long as you can see 200 yards ahead, you feel confident to drive the speed limit, in the dark, safe in the knowledge that you can handle anything that shows up in your path.
An entrepreneur’s business is the same. He doesn’t need to know what’s going on 100 miles ahead. In fact, most of the time he cannot possibly know what’s waiting for him miles down the road. He has the confidence that he can handle anything that shows up in the foreseeable future.
The Importance of Doing Your Homework
I have had several businesses in my lifetime. My first one excited me. I was 22 years old, no kids, no bills, simply living the good life! I was automating physician offices, taking all their paper files and integrating them electronically with new computers and software. My clients would leave their office on a Friday afternoon and by Monday morning they were live. Whatever money came in I spent, until one day I put all my eggs in one basket (so to speak), and the basket fell, breaking all the eggs.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see why some things don’t work as expected.
- If only I had the opportunity to drive that route in the daylight, when I could see everything.
- If only I could have talked to people who travel that route on a daily basis.
- If only I had done my homework BEFORE I encountered the obstacles!
The business might still have failed, but look at the time, money, and energy that I would have saved.
- Good entrepreneurs learn very well from their own mistakes.
- Seasoned entrepreneurs learn even better from other people’s mistakes!
Seek Out Experience
The very best entrepreneurial minds who have started and owned multiple businesses seek out others who have ‘been there, done that.’
They are always trying to be more efficient, more effective, and quicker in all that they do. For entrepreneurs, speed is always more appealing.
They want to find the guy who made the path and ask him how he did it:
- How long did it take?
- How much did it cost?
- If he had to do it over again, what would he do differently?
They want to find out exactly what worked and what didn’t, so they can take the best tried and tested strategies, improve on them, and create a new track of their own to run on. They always like to create their own path.
Questions Find Solutions
One of the best skills any entrepreneur can develop is the skill of asking great questions. Then, listen to the answers!
Not only will it save you time, money, and energy, but you’ll also learn and grow in direct proportion to the number and quality of the questions you ask.
Learning how to ask effective questions bodes very well for talking to future partners, customers, and people who are likely to endorse you and promote your business.
When you engage with someone for the first time, there is always the temptation to tell, tell, tell. However, if you ask, ask, ask instead, you’ll create a more compelling impression, and they will never forget you.
Which Strategy Is Best?
Doing your homework means finding out exactly what works and what doesn’t. However, it’s important to be aware that not every strategy works for everyone all the time. In fact, you’ll find that there are some strategies in growing a business that don’t fit you at all.
You will always need alternatives that are a good fit for you.
But you do need to have an awareness of everything that works, even if you’re not using that strategy. You might need to collaborate with someone one day who turns out to be a poor fit for all the strategies that you’ve found to work so well for you but are brilliant at using all the strategies that don’t fit you at all!
This happens more often than you might think!
An essential part of building a business is finding techniques that work well for business partners or team members, even if they’re opposite to your own best efforts. This can build an incredibly strong overall business strategy.
You play to your strengths, they play to theirs, and you don’t have to worry about any weaknesses.
Mindset is Everything
Mindset is everything when it comes to starting and growing a business.
The strategies for building your business are usually very straightforward and easy to grasp.
What makes the difference is the mindset and the application of those strategies with consistency, determination, and enthusiasm for long enough to reap long-term rewards.
The more time you spend with fellow entrepreneurs, the more questions you ask, the faster you’ll learn, and the quicker your business will grow… and it is way more fun than working for an employer too!
Dawn Hurlebaus, CEO