Scary Move, Eh?

The Entrepreneurial Zone

Welcome to what I call "The Entrepreneurial Zone." This is the place where it all begins-a world full of exploding energy, fascinating ideas, overwhelming frustration and, of course, the unbelievable excitement of creation! It is a forceful, directed experience that also happens to be quite unsettling and isolating.

The Zone is not a place to fear or flee from. Your feelings are normal. That's right, normal. No need for a therapist to relieve your tension, because everyone pursuing a dream business goes through The Entrepreneurial Zone.

Unfortunately, unlike when you begin school or a new job, there is no structured guidance for you during this time. Our schools, institutions and, in fact, our way of life are set up to support careers in the "real world," not some "dream business." Instead of encouragement, you often hear, "Why not get a job and do what you love on weekends?" "How are you going to make money from that?" or "You're borrowing how much to get that business up and running?"

The Entrepreneurial Zone is the area where so many budding business owners quit. It is the "no one believes in what I'm doing but me" zone. But you do not have to become one of the casualties of this haunted space.

Stand firm, tall and proud, and stay the course. Leave old perceptions behind. Take the next step. Today is the day you identify who you are. The answers to all your questions are in the steps you are taking as you plan a course that will lead you to your new business. You'll find them if you take the time, find the courage and follow the time-tested advice you will gather.

The Feeling's Mutual

As your idea takes shape, ensure that the foundation you're laying is sound. Being an entrepreneur usually means not just having a dream, but also wanting it to happen now. This sort of over-eagerness can lead to the delivery of inferior products.

Don't miss an extraordinary chance to get the best advice you can-from folks who have already established a business in your field. Some people don't want to share their experiences, but there are a few tricks of the trade.

Go to another town and find a business that is similar to yours. If you're not going to be in competition geographically, the owner will have less to lose by sharing. Ask what he or she has learned. Discover ways to shorten your process and avoid costly mistakes.

Also try to find entrepreneurs who did not make it in your line of business. Why were they unsuccessful? Get a reality check by talking to potential customers. What are they expecting? Can you deliver it better than the guy down the street? Redirect your nervous, excited energy so you can concentrate on winning the game.

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This article was originally published in the August 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Scary Move, Eh?.

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