From Ideator to Entrepreneur: The Missing Link
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Ideas, as author Sue Grafton says, are easy. It is the execution that truly separates the sheep from the goat. I believe all of us are creative individuals with the power to look at the world around us and envision a different reality.
Fire from a Match Flare
We are all ideators -- brooding, pensive, pondering, whimsical beings full of Noam Chomsky's 'colourless green' thoughts. But not all of us are entrepreneurs. Converting an idea to an enterprise needs a certain something: An Archaeopteryx connecting vision to action, a Sumerian wheel of tenacity that converts a momentary match flare in your mind to a self-sustaining fire.
It is a hard and windy road, but one that comes with its own special rewards. As the founder of a platform that connects businesses with the right freelance talent on demand, I know this all too well.
It wasn't long ago that I, too, had an idea flare up in my mind. The only difference being unlike others I didn't let the fireworks die! Deciding to start up on my own is easily one of the best decisions I have made in my life, and despite the pitfalls, I would highly recommend it to friends, family, and the fellow dreamer; with the caveat that they are ready for a self-evolution. As for the missing link(s) and the secret sauce(s), here is the knowledge I have so far accumulated during my growing years:
Persist, Persevere, and Don't Give Up Hope During the In-betweens
The whole cycle of a start-up - the processes of ideation, testing, implementation, and finally, growth -- needs a lot of perseverance and patience.
There are days when you wake up on the wrong side of Murphy's Law and everything that can possibly go wrong takes an even horrible turn for the worst. And then there are days when the jigsaw just completes itself, and even your cruelest client compliments your work. An entrepreneur perseveres during tough times and persists during the good ones. The period in between these two extremes, the proverbial calm before the storm, is when entrepreneurs live and dream and hope.
2. Letting Go is Not Just for Relationships
As a to-be entrepreneur, you probably have stellar ideas that you think will change the world. You so desperately want these ideas to succeed that at times you can become blinded to hard facts. While it is important to back your idea and have faith in it, you also need to temper this deep-rooted love with prudence and objective assessment.
If something is not working out, let go. Tomorrow will be a better day, and you will find the one! To keep on the right path today, you have set a proper balance between your (and your team's) objective, and the learning you face. And you must know when to stop persevering and let go. You can also take a leaf from Angel Investor Liron Petrushka on the 'art of letting go' and how it helps CEOs.
3. You are not Superman. Admit it Already!
Entrepreneurs have a problem and it is called the 'Superman Syndrome'. Many entrepreneurs are workaholics, who believe that no one else can do the job better than them. Sadly, that is not always the case. As I have learned from my own experiences, having an able team to support and execute your ideas makes you a better brand. Go on out there and find your 'Superboys' and 'Supergirls' before you work yourself to death. Also, a note of caution: the first few members of the team are the most difficult to find and retain, but they are worth the effort. So, up, up and away to Planet Teambuilding, right on!
4. Swallow the Bitter Pill. The Customer is Always Right
Being defensive is part and parcel of being a new entrepreneur. Every time someone says something bad about your product or service, it is but natural that you will get your hackles up. Mellow down, because, despite their seemingly rude and abrasive behaviour, and their inability to understand your greatness, your target audiences' critiques are important. Ignore them at your own peril, because their feedback can help you become even better than you ever imagined. Swallow the bitter pill my friend, and look for the silver lining. In it lies your salvation.
5. Learn Everything You Can
I said before that good teams make good brands, but I am also telling you that in order to run this team you need to get a taste of all the responsibilities you want them to shoulder. Change your name to Jack if it helps you master all trades, but be a master, you must. Only when you understand what is needed, will you be able to set up perfect SOPs.
Make cold calls, follow up with your clients, handle client servicing and know their grievances, get your hands dirty doing real-time issue resolutions, use apps to track on-ground situations. Be everywhere, learn everything; because you cannot teach others what you do not understand, and nobody can fool you when you know something like the back of your hand.
I enjoy seeing ideas grow, and all the advice above comes from my own experiences. I have had my share of stumbles and dreamy days, and I still have my sanity intact thanks to the help I get from my lovely team and my amazing co-founder.
What I know now is that if there is a mother of all missing links it is our inability to rise above our fear of failure and its abyss of mediocrity. You will find mentors to show you the ropes, and teammates to share the burden, but no one else can fight your fears for you. Once you find that inner strength, you would have found the most important link of all. And your journey to becoming an entrepreneur would have begun in earnest!