Entrepreneurship is often associated with a lightbulb moment, when a great idea comes to someone and they stop at nothing to make it happen.
In my experience, good businesses never start this way.
Rather than in a split-second, most businesses develop over time. In fact, they develop over a long period of time–a time full of hiccups and failures until something finally works or you move on.
One of my favorite quotes from Henry Ford is “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” and when you are starting a business, you can and you must start over many times in order to create something that works and resonates with people.
So, before setting out on what will most definitely be a long and formidable journey, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.
- What Do You Want From This Business?
Many people go into business thinking they want to make money. But, what they realize sooner or later, is that they are looking for recognition. Meanwhile others do the opposite. They find out that recognition for their business leadership or innovative work isn’t so important, but financial gain is.
Finding your true motivations will save you from many problems down the line. Try the exercise Inside-Outside. In one column, list all of your desires related to starting a business; on the other side, list all of the ways your business will benefit your consumer or user. If these two lists are in alignment, then you are more likely to have a clear-cut path to both satisfying the market need as well as your own. If the lists are significantly different, then it is time for a critical analysis of the needs of the market versus your own. How can you serve both? Are there changes you can make to get there? Is this the best path for you?
- What Does Success Look Like?
This time around, you’ll need to ask yourself about what you are really trying to do. Having a good idea or spotting a gap in the marketplace will help you build a business proposition, but to make it work, you will also need vision.
Your vision is what the world looks like when you are done. Going back to Ford, his vision was to make motor vehicles commonplace. As his company became more successful, that vision morphed: he saw every American as the owner of a motor vehicle–something truly revolutionary. From decisions about design to innovations on the assembly line, the company’s success always tied back to that vision.
Asking yourself to envision your own company’s success will help you find your own.
– Steve Mariotti is a prominent advocate for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education worldwide. He is the founder of the global nonprofit NFTE the author of hundreds on the transformative power of entrepreneurship, including his recent memoir, Goodbye Homeboy.