From Idea to Success: Lessons Learned in the Entrepreneurial Trenches

If you are over 30, chances are the idea of becoming an entrepreneur likely was not one of the options you considered when you left college.  Yet, somewhere along the way, you had an idea you were so passionate about, you wanted to launch your own venture to pursue it.  But wanting to pursue something and actually doing it are two very different things.  Ultimately, the difference between being a dreamer and an entrepreneur is execution.  It’s about having the strategic insight to see a challenge as an opportunity and the confidence to go for it!

Entrepreneurs see things as they should be, rather than how they are.  They see challenges as opportunities, and a successful entrepreneur not only learns from his/her mistakes, but also transforms them into learning experiences.  If I were to boil down the key lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur, they would include:

  • Give it all you’ve got. Launching a new business is not something you can do as a hobby or on nights and weekends.  It requires that you’re all in.  You also need a heavy dose of determination, perseverance and courage.
  • Do it for the right reasons.  Are you looking to solve a pressing problem that keeps you up at night, or are you just looking for a change?  Starting and building a company is hard and if you’re not doing it for the right reasons – ones you are fully committed to – you’re not going to have the passion to make it to the finish line.
  •  Enlist a coach.  I only wish I had worked with a coach/advisor from the outset.  Most people who have the courage to start a new venture, also have the confidence that they can do it themselves.  Having a coach or advisor, however, will help you stay on course, hold you accountable, and provide a valuable sounding board.
  • Establish goals.  Motivate yourself to get to “base camps” along your path to the summit.  This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment at each major milestone – proof of concept, first employee, first customer, etc. – and allow you to pause and re-evaluate next steps.
  • Focus.  Trust me, there will be an endless list of priorities, opportunities and distractions as you build your business.  Your job is to focus only on those initiatives that drive positive results for your company.

Bottom line, remind yourself every day of why you launched your business in the first place, and don’t lose sight of the endgame.

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