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Last year, most experts predicted our economy would be well on the way to recovery in 2002. Well, the year is nearly over, and, for most of us, 2002 is not the panacea we were told it would be. In fact, for many people it is worse. And now with so much uncertainty about so many things, who knows what 2003 will bring? At the risk of sounding like a New Ager, the air is filled with negativity. Now, I'm not foolish enough to attempt a prediction about our economic future (though in next month's Entrepreneur, we will boldly forecast next year's most important business trends and hot businesses), but there is something I can safely say: It's a sure bet that the 19 young entrepreneurs featured in this issue's "Got ID?" feature, starting on page 66, weren't listening to the doom and gloom as they grew their million-dollar (or multimillion-dollar) businesses.
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That doesn't mean they were oblivious to the conditions swirling around them. How could they be? But they (and countless others of you) didn't let the negativity (economic and otherwise) affect them, their goals or their companies. And if you want to succeed, you're going to have to develop a thick skin as well. Of course, you need to take various outside factors into consideration when making your business plans. But mostly you need to figure out why people will want to buy your product or service now. What do you do, what can you offer, who can you target to build your business today?
So many people think they need "just the right conditions" to take that next step. They believe treading water is the "safe" thing to do. Yes, treading water is safe, but it doesn't move you forward, and it doesn't take you anywhere except the place you already are. Entrepreneurs don't want to stay put; you, like a whirling dervish, need to be constantly in motion.
Actually, I don't think there's such a thing as "the right conditions." What's right for one of you is likely wrong for another. Conventional wisdom tells us that during recessions or quasi-recessions, it's smart to be conservative. But countless entrepreneurs have told me one of their secrets to success was they were too ignorant to know what they were doing was not the "conventionally wise" thing to do. Humorist Will Rogers once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you're gonna get run over if you're just sitting there."
So let this serve as a warning to some of you (and you know who you are). The train is coming, and you're about to get flattened. You can't wait for the economy to get all straightened out. You can't wait for the bulls to return to the stock market. You can't wait for a sign from above. You are entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs don't wait.