If you want to be successful in business, start practicing

No matter what you're working on, learning and practice are essential for getting good.

Don't disappoint yourself by thinking that you'll naturally have the skills to be a good entrepreneur. It requires practice to become a good founder, like anything else in life. 

Think about some of the other things you might be good at...

Your job? The usual pathway to employment involves 7+ years of training throughout school, university, or some sort of employment training ground. School is designed to develop employees. You're trained to follow instructions and to do tasks decided by your superiors (teachers). 

Sports or hobbies? If you’re good at a sport or some other hobby you would have learnt the skill and done a decent amount of practice. If you're a pro then you would have a coach and practice daily. 

If you want to get good at something, you need to learn how to do it first.

Entrepreneurship is no exception. It's just that previously it's almost always been self-taught.  There hasn't always been the availability of resources to help people learn the necessary skills like there is now. People learnt through failure; they tried something, failed, and got back up and did it again until they learnt what not to do. Those with the resilience to keep going became successful (which is still the case).

Fortunately, now there is a heap of great resources, programmes and channels to help people start companies much faster, and in ways that help to reduce risks of failure.

The block for most people when it comes to getting started is not a lack of information or support, it's not investing enough in developing themselves to the stage where they have the skills and mindset to build a successful company. 

If you want to become good at starting and growing a business, then start learning the relevant skills and develop how you think. Read books, talk to those who have done it before, find relevant learning opportunities and get practising by making a start.

Continuous learning and self-development, by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, is what entrepreneurship is all about.

You can take comfort in the fact that most people don't know what they're doing when they start out in business. And most people experience the discomfort that comes with not knowing, which might be what you're feeling now. The difference between those who become successful, and those who are still working away in a 9-5 job, is that the successful people make a start and keep going, with the right support. 

You can do this!

Make people excited about your idea and business

Starting a business is hard when you have a product no one cares about.

 

So it's a good strategy to build something that people are excited about, and do the easy things that help more people become and stay excited.

This is basically good product development, good branding and marketing. 

So how do you do it?

Investing time upfront to understand the true value of your product is key. For every business, there is a core value proposition that sits at the heart of everything the business does. 

This value proposition drives the product, the brand, the culture, the strategy and everything in between. As a business, if you're weak on your value proposition then everything else will also be weak.

The way to get strong is by knowing what drives you and your team, and what drives your customers. Specifically, for both parties it's:

  • The problems you/they care about
  • The beliefs and values you/they have
  • The new realities you/they want to create or be a part of.

The best way to do this is by asking the right questions to understand the experiences, beliefs and reality states of the people that are part of your business. That's yourself, your customers, your team, and anyone else who plays a material role.

Our 'Startup DNA' and 'Market Validation' guides will help you with this process. 

Knowing what you're great at

You can't be great at everything.  

In fact, if you want to be exceptional at anything, you're going to have to reside in the fact that you're probably not going to not be great at a significant number of other skills. 

This is because it takes a lot of practice to become great at something and for most people there's just not enough time in a lifetime.

So it helps if you decide on the things that you are or want to become great at. And become comfortable with just being ok with the rest. You can partner with or employ people who are great at the things you are not.

Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
— Pele

When you feel like you should be amazing at everything, you compare your weaknesses to other people strengths. You try to do everything, instead of just focusing on the things that you are good at, and letting others fill your gaps. You butt heads instead of collaborating. 

I am guilty of this sometimes. And I know how much it helps to be reminded of what I'm good at, and what I'm not. 

The best tool that I have found so far for accurately assessing and describing an individuals top strengths is the Clifton Strengths Quest. 

 

Once you've figured them out, put them somewhere so you're reminded. It's easy to forget and slip back into old thought patterns.

The brutal truth about transitioning from job to self-employment

Society screws with aspiring entrepreneurs.    
      

Most people don’t start out with the skillset and mindset required to build a successful business.

We’re conditioned to go to school, university and then into a 9-5 job. If you choose to learn about business during this time, it’s generally from a senior management perspective or starting a small business, not a start-up in the 21st century.

When we come up with an idea or problem we want to solve, we expect it of ourselves to be able to quit our jobs and jump straight into building a successful company. That's trying to do something with the highest failure rate when it comes to career paths, without learning the ropes first. This is like throwing a child into the water and expecting it to swim. 

I speak from experience in saying that it’s unlikely that the career skills you have now will prepare you for building your own start-up if you’ve never had any experience in this field before. Working for yourself is a very different way of existing from working for someone else. And the skills required to start a business are different from working in an existing one.

So like with any new thing, the first step for getting good at starting a business is learning the necessary skills and then putting them into practice. Using the child in water analogy, instead of thrashing around aimlessly, learn the strokes that will help you to get to the side of the pool faster.

You can do this!
 

Check out our programmes, workshops and events to see how we can support you to get started.


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