Are Successful Entrepreneurs from a Different Planet?
They are bold (or mad) enough to believe they have the foresight and insight to build solutions for latent problems
Those who have the ability to see the future, predict unprecedented opportunities and foretell looming adverse conditions are said to have a gift. A view perpetuated by popular media, which never seems to tire of imagined oracles and time-travelers. In reality, however, anyone who professes to have such abilities is often a social pariah. They are the placard-wearing men standing by the street corner, declaring that the end is near. At every turn, we ignore them and disparage their outlandish claims.
That is, of course, with the exception of one select sub-group that dabbles in future-telling — the entrepreneur. It would seem that they are the only socially acceptable version of an oracle or soothsayer. They are bold (or mad) enough to believe they have the foresight and insight to build solutions for latent problems.
In the domain of entrepreneurship, the more brazen your predictions, the more people will pay attention and therefore, greater the likelihood of finding yourself funded. So, how do you know if you are a visionary or simply suffer from delusions of grandeur? Here are five things visionary entrepreneurs have that their deluded counterparts do not have:
Successful entrepreneurs should have razor-sharp focus. Your vision should be crystal clear and spoken with conviction, so much so that people will think you have traveled to the future. When it comes to communicating this focus to others, remember less is more, so swap buzzwords for practical descriptors and always K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid).
Visionary entrepreneurs need to know their “whys”. Even in history or fiction, the difference between a prophet and a conman is their motivations. So, be sure to evaluate the real reasons you have chosen to do what you do. Once you have your “why” make sure you are able to concisely and consistently articulate your purpose and that of your business.
Your opinions should be based on one thing: facts. Your business rationale cannot be founded on your intuition and certainly not your premonition. So, from the initial validation stage, you should be building a bulletproof fact-based case to support your version of reality. As an entrepreneur, you should strive to be a thought leader in your startup’s focus area. This doesn’t mean you should know everything, it just means you need to show a desire to continuously learn more.
The size and openness of your network is the leading predictor of your success and a critical component of succeeding as an entrepreneur. To be a visionary you must amass a network of believers. These advisors, mentors, advocates and brand ambassadors will not only support your pursuits, they will champion your ideas.
Your “believers” give you invaluable access to what they know, as well as who they know.
Perseverance and patience
Most great entrepreneurs are keenly aware that to survive they must be ready to fail fast, fail often and fail again—all without losing enthusiasm. So be ready to be called crazy, be ready for eyes to roll and people to scoff with skepticism. Be ready to do this over, and over, and over again with a smile on your face until you succeed. Still can’t figure out whether you are a mad (wo)man or an oracle? Well, you probably don’t have to. Once you are hugely successful, the world that once called you delusional would accuse you of having supernatural abilities. Lest we forget the “Elon Musk is a time-traveler from Mars” debate of 2017. So the true test of whether you are visionary or delusional will be your success.
Tandadzo (Tando) has held numerous innovation and strategic consultancy positions, and has worked in corporate venture capital at Boston Consulting Group - Digital Ventures (BCG DV). She holds a master's degree from the University of Cambridge. During her time there, she was a researcher in the Cambridge Judge Business School's Centre of Entrepreneurial Learning, and was awarded the Cambridge University Entrepreneurship Award.
She is deeply passionate about building impactful businesses and helping empower entrepreneurs to grow, scale and fund their game-changing ideas.