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Know Thyself

People are quick to offer help, but sometimes the best advice comes from within.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the December 2007 issue of Entrepreneurs StartUps Magazine. Subscribe »

Sarah invented a toy and wanted to sign a distribution deal with a national children's specialty store. Based on the advice of colleagues, she implemented two strategies to clinch the deal: She hired an agent to represent her product, and she developed an outstanding sales proposal, hoping to get it to the chain's national buyer. Neither method worked.

Rather than become discouraged, she took aim at her target, digested what she had learned and shifted her focus to a different level of the chain's management ladder. She presented her product to the store managers at five locations, and every one placed an order. She asked each manager to refer her product to his or her national buyer. Within weeks, she had secured a large order.

You're fed an enormous number of solicited and unsolicited opinions about your ventures. You're told what will work and what won't. This can be confusing because nearly all these opinions are from people who don't have an intimate knowledge of your business. Here are ways to move forward by using your experience and intuition to decipher the information you receive rather than accept it as truth.

1. Create an action outline to guide your journey. When you don't have a plan to achieve your goal, it's easy to be persuaded by others' opinions. Maintain your focus by standing by your convictions. Create an action outline of what you must complete to achieve your goal. You don't need all the answers--you simply want to connect your action steps to your vision so you can move forward with a purpose. Setting a plan in motion helps build a foundation for you to confidently acquire any information you lack.

2. Assemble a mosaic of ideas and methods by asking the right questions. Discover new ways to gather real-world information. Start by asking others specific questions to resolve problems. Connect with people who have completed similar tasks by attending workshops or e-mailing experts. Put yourself in "learning mode" so you can recognize routes other people have not yet taken.

3. Build on and enhance the thoughts of others. Analyze and evaluate all the information you gather, and use the best strategies to adjust your action outline accordingly. Maintain your uniqueness and remain true to yourself by trusting your intuition and experience.

4. Refuse defeat. Believe in your ability to uncover the resources and tools you need to make constant progress. Continue to fine-tune your plan as you sift through the input you receive. It may be difficult at first, but once you see how others are inspired to help you, it will become easier. Your most valuable asset is your adventurous spirit--use it to set your business apart and achieve your goals.

Shooting past your target is about seeking learning opportunities at every step. The greatest reward is developing and implementing strategies that are all your own--it's what being an entrepreneur is all about.

Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him at

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