Starting up a business requires a diversity of assets. First-time entrepreneurs often feel anxious when they think about all the factors that must play a role if their ideas are ever to get off the ground. In their minds, success or failure seems to hinge upon finding deep-pockets funders, expert mentors, ample press coverage, and other “champions.”
But the truth is, you already possess some of the most important assets you’ll need to achieve success. These are nothing less than your personal faculties—the awesome power of your own head, your own heart, and your own hands.
In other words, much of your potential for success will be determined by:
- The quality of your idea
- The strength and sincerity of your belief in it
- Your effort to make it a reality
Succeed with your head: The impact of innovative ideas
Big or small, every successful business begins with an innovative idea.
Nike was born when Phil Knight recognized the hidden potential of a waffle iron to improve soles for running shoes. Howard Schultz brought the espresso bar concept from Italy to the United States and grew Starbucks into a global phenomenon. And when Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com in 1994, many people had never even heard of something called the Internet.
True, your business aspirations may be on a more modest scale than these world-famous brands. Nevertheless, your first step is to come up with an innovative idea.
But where to begin? Tim Berry, the founder of Palo Alto Software, says there is no better starting point than looking in the mirror. Each of us is a unique individual, and within ourselves we each carry the seeds of entrepreneurial success—concepts that interest us, questions that intrigue us, things we know we can do better than most people, things we suspect ought to be done differently.
It’s good to have role models in business, but you should not seek to mimic someone else’s success. Successful businesses are always built from the special aptitudes and unique insights of the people who founded them. Your truly innovative idea will be as one-of-a-kind as you are.
Succeed with your heart: The power of positive belief
In order to bring your idea to fruition, you must genuinely believe in it. Good luck persuading others to invest if you cannot convince them of your own passionate belief. An idea for a business might seem “great,” but if it fails to ignite your sense of passion, it probably isn’t the right one for you. Go back to the drawing board and come up with an idea you can truly commit to.
A secure and persevering spirit will be an essential factor in your success. Trust that you will adapt to changes; learn to conquer fear and approach uncertainty with confidence. Become fiercely committed to seeing your goals through.
For example, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who feels “mathematically challenged” (and many of us do), then you may feel intimidated by financial forecasting and fall into a pattern of prioritizing other tasks. You may tell yourself you’re “too busy” tending to outside obligations or allow yourself to get bogged down in other details of business planning.
Sometimes we engage in such behaviors just to procrastinate. At other times we are actually creating preemptive excuses for the failure we fear is inevitable. If left unchecked, negative belief can grow into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Freeing yourself of negativity will require a conscious effort. Take note of the goals you tend to put off and the productive tasks you habitually avoid. Ask yourself why. As you learn to identify the negative beliefs that are impeding your progress, you will feel empowered to begin changing them.
Succeed with your hands: The effectiveness of effort
The brainiest ideas and most heartfelt belief are of little value without the resolve to take action and work hard.
You will sometimes hear people explain a business leader’s success by giving credit to “good luck.” People who talk like this have little knowledge or practical experience of business.
If you believe in succeeding through perseverance, you have the right frame of mind to be an entrepreneur—those who believe in success through luck might be better served to buy lottery tickets. In business there is no such thing as luck; you achieve success because you are willing to work hard for it.
People who are accustomed to working hard are less inclined to feel overwhelmed by challenges. They are eager to acquire new skills because they can quickly put them to good use. And contrary to the image of the “head in the clouds” visionary, you will probably find that your most inspired thinking actually occurs when you are engaged in productive work. Research even indicates that hard-working people tend to live longer than take-it-easy types.
Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Much has changed since Edison’s day, but sweat equity is still the most effective kind of startup capital.