Wait Not, Want Not

Have a bunch of great business ideas but still no business? Well, what are you waiting for? It's time to make the leap from armchair entrepreneur to the real deal.

Feeling immobilized isn't a crime. Neither is procrastination. But it's a pity if you let a great business idea die simply because you can't get motivated.

Unfortunately, this happens . . . a lot. Millions of wanna-be entrepreneurs have had great ideas, the inspiration, even the capitalization, but remain living antitheses to the Nike cliche--they just don't do it. These are probably the people who constantly watch hot new businesses make millions, slap themselves on the forehead, and bemoan, "But I had that idea for a business 10 years ago!"

What most often sets successful entrepreneurs apart from these coulda-shoulda-woulda-been businesspeople? The "real" entrepreneurs simply got off their butts and got going.

Granted, motivating yourself is far from easy. The most sobering reality for any start-up entrepreneur is discovering there's no motivational panacea, according to professional speaker Terry Paulson, president of the National Speakers Association. That's good and bad news: "The good news is there are many [methods by which to get motivated]," says Paulson. "The tough part is finding them."

Not to mention sustaining them. Another important consideration for your pre-start-up stage: The seeds you plant now could grow into motivation-killers later. For instance, Paulson warns, an unrealistic image of what it takes to start a business often leads to a quick defeat. "Many entrepreneurs envision a seamless process leading to success," says Paulson. "They're a lot better off if they start from a practical vantage point and see what lies ahead on the long road of setbacks. It's persistence that'll get them where they want to go."

The best way to stay persistent is by understanding that building a business is a process that transforms your life, observes Robert Danzig, former vice president of The Hearst Corp. and former general manager of Hearst Newspapers in New York City. Danzig is now a motivational speaker and author of The Leader Within You: Master 9 Powers to Be the Leader You Always Wanted to Be! (Lifetime Books).

What is the key to motivation? Danzig believes it depends on staying excited no matter what you encounter on the long journey toward success. "Excitement," he says, "is the fuel constantly firing your engine and propelling you forward."

So how do you stay excited? According to Danzig, achieving motivation involves a five-step transformational process:

Step 1: Create a compelling vision. Write it down in detail so you can see exactly what it is you're trying to achieve. And the more detailed the vision, the better. "It's that vision which keeps you grounded and focused," Danzig says.

Step 2: Increase your commitment and conviction for both yourself and those who follow you on your journey by setting up the steps you think will help you achieve your vision.

Step 3: Generate excitement about your entrepreneurial vision. If you aren't excited about your vision, don't do it.

Step 4: Kick yourself into gear by arousing new ideas for fulfilling that vision all the time. Write down "arouse" ideas on Post-it notes and surround yourself with them so they're always in view.

Step 5: Learn how to listen well. Listen to those who can counsel you in achieving your vision. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're not clear about what they're saying.

Bob Weinstein is the author of 10 books and a frequent contributor to national magazines.

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This article was originally published in the September 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Wait Not, Want Not.

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