Think Successful Entrepreneurs are Born That Way? Guess Again
If entrepreneurship is calling you, it must mean it comes easy, right? You have an idea, set up a website, hire a few people, and boom, that’s it.
Not exactly. When you’re in the early stages of starting a business, the excitement can often overshadow just how much work and self-discipline it takes to succeed. Being a successful entrepreneur requires more than a great idea, a fearless spirit and a go-getter attitude. It requires discipline and focus.
This is not to discourage entrepreneurship. Supplementing your initial drive with some solid advice can help you build and sustain a viable business while helping you avoid making too many rookie mistakes and ultimately flaming out.
Taking the long road
“Road map” is a term that sometimes gets overused in business. But if there’s ever a place to use it, launching a company is it.
Think of entrepreneurship as a journey guided by your vision, but the road is being paved as you drive on it. Your unbounded optimism and ability to navigate will take you around corners, over hills, and down some pretty long straightaways before eventually leading you to your destination.
Notice there’s no mention of shortcuts or a fast track. That’s because even in our world of instant gratification, expedited processes, and overnight sensations, success in building a business isn’t quick. Although some businesses might take off in what seems like a short amount of time, if you look closely, there could still be some cracks in the foundation—problems they could’ve avoided at the beginning that became too large to address later without having to rip apart the entire business model.
Feeling the pressure and compulsion to go all-in right off the bat is real, but staying focused and doing things right, with restraint, can pay off later. This is an approach my team and I practiced in the formative years of our business and continue to practice today. And while it wasn’t always easy, we knew we’d rather take our time to do things exactly how we wanted than rush and have to rebuild in the future. The pressure to chase revenue is real, but discipline to stay true to the long-term goal is critical.
Components of success
Accomplished entrepreneurs tend to share some common strategies and traits. Spending weeks and months pursuing each of the following components to the best of your ability can make all the difference in how your business fares in the years to come:
• The right team: There will be many ups and downs and sacrifices needed, and having like-minded folks to go through this journey with is key. I started with a partner who brought complementary skills and a great temperament—the perfect yin to my yang. We laid out a plan for the next 24 months and identified the key skills needed during that period, and those became the foundations for the first hires. And of course, beyond just skills, you’ll need people who truly share your vision and are passionate about it. It’s not always about the numbers: A small team dedicated to the success of the business can move mountains in a way that a larger but less devoted team cannot. These are the people who get it and are with you on the mission, and willing to go above and beyond to fulfill needs as they arise.
• The right resources: Financial help, legal advice, compliance support, and operational tools—these are the less exciting, but just as important, considerations you may be tempted to skip over in favor of getting a product or service to market immediately. You don’t need to have them all in-house—just at hand. Consider partners that are used to working with startups and that have the right balance of risk management and business focus. Seek out other business founders within your network, and you’ll often find they’re more than happy to share referrals.
• Clear goals: Whether it’s hitting development milestones or signing a specified number of new clients per quarter, what matters more than the goals themselves is the fact that you have some. Ask yourself why you started this business, what you’re working toward in the short term, and where you see your business going in the long term. Then set goals that can be understood, internalized, and acted upon by each team member to keep your vision alive and everyone on the same page.
• Resilience: The road is long for a reason. There will be times of apathy and times of difficulty. Sales don’t always take off the way you forecasted, and unforeseen crises can waylay operations. Markets can be fickle, trends come and go, and other frustrations are sure to pop up. This is precisely why a major part of being an entrepreneur is not getting discouraged but instead having the belief to persevere, keep grinding and eventually break through.
Making the hard part less hard
The world always needs entrepreneurs to solve problems, disrupt industries, and inspire the totally new. The easy part is seeing where you can make a difference and knowing you can capitalize on your idea.
The tough part, of course, is executing your plan. Where many would-be entrepreneurs fail is not having the right team, the right support systems, or trackable goals in place, but you can avoid that fate by ensuring you invest enough time and effort in all facets of your business. It’s more than possible to set a steady pace for development that doesn’t bypass necessary components of success.
Remember: it’s not supposed to be easy (if it were, everyone would do it), but you can still be deliberate about what you do in the beginning to maximize your chances for success.
This article originally appeared in Forbes. View it here.