From the August 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Each of us has our own way of entering a pool. A few of us stick a toe in to test the temperature. Some carefully lower themselves in, hoping to slowly get used to the water. Others leap off the edge, plunging right in and creating a giant splash. The pattern is the same when you start your own business. Entrepreneurship is about creating your own rules. Just because a specific tactic works for one pioneer doesn't mean it will work for everyone. For every person who follows strict timetables and plans when starting a business, there's another who succeeds by breaking all the rules.

A secret success strategy is to discover what works for you by taking action according to your personality and gut feelings. Begin by creating a method I like to call "My Way":

1. Start fresh. Release any guilt or regret about what you haven't accomplished. Define, to the best of your ability, the business you want to create. Make your statement a reflection of your personality. Then let it go. As you investigate the real world, your idea will transform. Be open to all the possibilities you discover.

2. Borrow from others' experience. Continually ask others for the best way to start your business. Discover the reality of starting a business by asking business owners from different industries the steps they took to succeed. Introduce yourself to the owner of your local coffeehouse or gift store, and ask: "What are the best action steps I can take to start? What mistakes did you make?" Everyone's path is different. Listen to them, and meld their ideas into your own process.

3. Take simple steps. Taking action creates successful entrepreneurs. Do not try to define your exact path or time frame. Test your idea, build your confidence and commit yourself to discovering what works. Break your large goal into smaller outcomes, and achieve something every day. Record what you learn so you can reveal and remember the truth of what works for you.

4. Progress at your own pace and risk tolerance. With each step you take, you go deeper into the pool. Make sure your progress works in your life. Do not allow others to judge your success or push you at a pace faster than you feel comfortable going. Commit yourself to the path of discovery. Whether the steps you accomplish are gigantic or small, your ongoing progress is the key to your success.

5. Prepay your way. Discover a way to "get paid" for developing your dream. Are there partnerships you can create to generate income? If you're considering opening a bar, can you connect it to a restaurant that has the insurance, liquor license and customers you need? Then use the money you generate to open another bar. A game inventor I worked with drew his idea on a huge sheet of paper, took it to a game store and got presales that paid for his production costs.

6. Meet the future head on. If you have a dream in your heart screaming to get out, you can become an entrepreneur. Don't be afraid of your calling. The world is huge, and the possibilities are limitless. Pour your energy into creating your business, and leap in with your eyes wide open.

When you accomplish something in a unique way, people talk about your success with greater vigor. Start with your passion, and discover your own way to make your dream a reality. Soon, you'll be creating "rules" that others will feel compelled to follow.


Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is the author of Kick Start Your Dream Business.