As part of our business I work with, and have coached, many, many first time entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur is tough, even for the most seasoned start-up veteran.
Being a first time entrepreneur – especially if you have a long prior career as an employee – can be brutally stressful, not just financially (in terms of the uncertainty that you feel) but also emotionally, and mentally.
The constant state of anxiety – wondering what we should do, questioning if we are taking the right actions, thinking about whether or not we will be successful and what we can do differently – has the capacity to derail a first time entrepreneur’s career before they have even experienced the fruits of their labor and tasted the wonderful freedom that comes with business success.
But it doesn’t have to be this way – at least emotionally. The process can be simplified, and demystified, in a way that will allow you to take detached (and over time effective) action.
Effective action is the ultimate secret to entrepreneurial success. You want to take the “right” actions, and take them often.
When you are an employee the “right” actions are clear to you – they have already been defined and they are presented to you as part of your job description. You just have to show up, punch the clock, do your work, and collect your paycheque.
As an entrepreneur it isn’t that easy. Sometimes you don’t know what the “right” actions are. Other times there may not be a clear “right” action to take (for example if you are introducing a product or service to the market that has never before been introduced).
If someone (or some company) has previously found success marketing a product, or service that is similar to yours then you can model their actions. You can do what they did that brought them success.
This may or may not bring you the same success that they had.
If no-one has ever attempted to market your product or service before you can try to implement marketing strategies that you learn elsewhere – applying them to this product.
Again – this may or may not bring you success in your venture.
So what is a first time entrepreneur to do? How does one find success?
There is actually a fairly simple process – it is a “feedback mechanism”. You start with the premise that you are looking to figure out the “most effective” way to run your business and market your product. So to start you model the actions of those who have gone before (and found success).
Take an action (that you learn from them)
Then observe the results.
If you get a result that you want – this is positive feedback. This means that you should take more of these types of actions. If you don’t get a result that you want – this is feedback as well. You adjust your actions accordingly, and take new actions.
Granted – you will need to try certain actions more than once to truly gauge their effectiveness. But over time you will have data. If by modelling someone else’s actions you find success then you are on your way.
But what happens if you model someone else’s actions and you meet failure (even if you test the actions long enough to have a reasonable data set)?
Well then in that case the process still applies. Nothing has changed in the methodology
You take an action (this time however you have to come up with the action using your own imagination).
You gauge the feedback (after you have done the action long enough to have a reasonable data set)
You adjust your actions (in light of the feedback).
Then you take more action.
This process occurs over and over and over again. This is the ultimate discovery feedback mechanism for the entrepreneur, and it is why being an entrepreneur can be so rewarding – you get to constantly play amateur scientist.
So are you a first time entrepreneur? Just take action. Then gauge the feedback. Adjust your results. Then take more action (based on the results that you get).
One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.