Have you ever watched intense video gamers? Their eyes are glazed and they are intently focusing on the screen. They are gripping the controller with both hands, thumbing the buttons and advancing to the next stage of the game.
Did you play video games as a child? How about as an adult? Starting a company is like playing a video game. You have an end goal – whether it be rescuing a princess, overthrowing the bad guy, collecting the crown jewels, or creating a sustainable business. You will definitely encounter obstacles getting to your end goals. Along the way, you may have small wins, but they are all on the way to the grand prize.
You also also have a controller in this video game. As a founder, you use the buttons to maneuver your way though challenges. The important buttons at your disposal are:
- Offense and Defense – Use these as often as possible.
- Competitive Attack – This can be used in conjunction with offense and defense.
- Pivot – This button is used more often than you think, but after using it too much, it becomes inactive.
- Hire – Use this button sparingly, but wisely. It can backfire if you are too aggressive with this button.
- Plans A, B, C, and D – If you have really taken a wrong turn, you can use the different plans to set your path straight.
- Launch – This is the button you use when you are finishing one stage of the game and moving to the next.
It’s not about having these buttons though. It is about how many times you have used them before, the order you use them, how fast you use them, and when you use them and how you use them. Some buttons may have additional functionality if you use them in combination with each other. All of these factors together will catapult you to success.
What are the buttons on your controller? Let us know in the comments below.
This was originally created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success
Rats have been used in mazes for experiments and testing for over 100 years. These studies are used to understand cognition in rats. We’ve learned about motivation and psychology of humans and other mammals.
The startup journey is a maze in itself, and the entrepreneur making his/her way behaves predictably. There are always dead ends, shiny distractions, competitors who are more experienced and little tastes of success which keep the entrepreneur going.
In this rat race, it is wise to do as our rodent friends do:
- Assess where you are and where you have been, to guide your journey.
- Don’t get too distracted by pseudo success.
- Persistence will get you to the cheese.
- There will always be others who seem to be doing it better. Be aware, but ignore them.
- Continually remind yourself of your core motivation to propel you to the end.
What else has been in your maze? Let us know in the comments below.
This was originally created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.
You think success is only based on intelligence? Nope.
You think success is solely due to the number of contacts you have? Negative.
You think success is pure luck? Sorry.
You think success is based just on education? Nice try.
You think success is only about you? No way!
I could keep listing these, but you get the gist. The line that separates the entrepreneur from the wantrepreneur is not only the number of successes, but it is the number of attempts, failures, disappointments, trials, and tribulations. This persistence is the distinguishing factor that separates the entrepreneurs from the wannabes.
Additionally, remember, that as an entrepreneur, you are part of a bigger ecosystem of trying, failing, learning and succeeding. For every failure, you or someone else will benefit from it, and will use that learning to adapt it for businesses. You may not even recognize it, but you are benefitting from other entrepreneur’s failures all the time, and vice versa. Check out these TED Talks for more inspiration about failures.
Here are some bits of inspiration to keep on trying, even when it seems that you’re in a dead end:
How long have you been persisting? How do you keep going in the face of adversity? Let us know in the comments below.
This was originally created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.
Previous Employment: Independent innovation & strategy consultant (10 years), lecturer (strategy, entrepreneurship & innovation), PhD candidate (current).
For me, entrepreneurship isn’t just about risk and reward, opportunity windows, or sexy new brands. It’s about change. Sometimes that change is dramatic, sometimes it’s subtle.
Entrepreneurs can change entire markets, industries, and institutions. By definition, to be an entrepreneur is to create something new instead of perpetuating the old. It means to push against the status quo.
My strongest source of motivation is my vision for the future. For myself, my family, and my community. The change I will make in the world is what gets me out of bed.
I can’t ignore the enduring problems our society faces despite economic growth, like poverty and environmental degradation. When I realised I could use entrepreneurship to achieve the change I wanted to see in the world, that was all the purpose I needed. Social entrepreneurship is my gig!
I’ve helped start Soul Capital because of the role innovative enterprise can play in social and environmental change. In disrupting the financial systems that perpetuate wicked problems of poverty and inequality. My co-founders and I are building a collective of investors and entrepreneurs that will help to create a sustainable and inclusive economy. This is an economy that provides a fair distribution of opportunities to all people and protects the intrinsic value of our natural world.
Having a clear purpose is vital in getting me through the long hours, intimidating investors, challenging clients, setbacks, and disappointments. I also receive energy from the people I work with. There’s nothing like being surrounded by people who believe in your vision to help get you through the scary, frustrating, tiresome stages of launching a new venture.
Last year, I was working on a business that I was convinced could be bought by a huge media conglomerate. In fact, before I had a business model, funding, prototype or even a single customer, I was ready to sell the business! Needless to say, the business didn’t work out. My passion was focused on the wrong place. And I’m not the only one. Many entrepreneurs I speak to are looking for an exit strategy much earlier than even their entrance strategy.
I read an article by Mark Cuban many months later and the second line struck me:
- Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.
- If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.
Who is Mark Cuban? If you haven’t seen him on Shark Tank, or aren’t a fan of the Dallas Mavericks, just know he a billionaire who built his way up. And, yes, in retrospect, that business I was working on was not an obsession – making it an #entrepreneurfail.
From my experience, here is a checklist of red flags to warn you that you may be too interested in an exit strategy too soon:
- You are more interested in selling the business than in creating what your business needs to sell.
- You haven’t talked to a single customer, but are sure that future owners of the business will.
- You are browsing potential investors of the company, before creating a proof-of-concept yourself.
- You don’t want to learn too much industry knowledge since it won’t be needed after you sell the company.
This post and comic were originally created for www.entrepreneurfail.com
Josh Daniell is Head of Platform and Investor Growth at Snowball Effect (equity crowdfunding). Josh participated in Startup Weekend this year, so we asked him to write about his motivations and what he wanted to get out of it.
I’ve always respected people with broad perspective. To have perspective, you need to throw yourself outside your comfort zone. However I’ve found that you can’t simply travel India in your early 20s and expect to retain perspective. It wears off. You quickly revert to your norms in a limited frame of reference. To maintain perspective, you need to consistently do things that open your mind.
Over the years I’ve used a number of methods to try and challenge my perspective. They always involve mixing with people outside my regular bubble. They often involve a touch of humiliation. They usually result in discovery and learning. A few examples:
- Volunteering at community law centres: A way to open my eyes and help with real problems across diverse communities. It certainly puts your own problems in perspective.
- Corporate hitchhiking: While working as a lawyer a couple of flatmates and I would hitchhike to work in suits (hence “corporate” hitchhiking). This was an unpredictable and often inspiring start to the day, and the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of people in my community.
- Koru Club hitchhiking: If I’ve got time to kill in the airport I hover outside the Koru Club and ask a stranger to come in as their guest (members can bring in a guest for free each time they fly). Asking things from strangers carries a plethora of emotions and judgements. In this situation, these take place in less than 5 seconds. Rejection is face-to-face and humiliating.
I can now add another – Startup Weekend.
They say that starting a business is like climbing a mountain, and only being given the equipment you need once you’re almost at the top. You’ll face criticism and naysayers. You’ll taste failure and loneliness. It’s tough, but beautiful things can emerge from the foothills. If you’re lucky you’ll feel the elation of success and the sweet vindication of market acceptance.
At Snowball Effect we’ve reviewed the business plans of around 500 early stage companies over the last year. It’s easy to review and critique, but it takes courage to build something and open it up to the world. Though we’re an early stage business ourselves, I wanted to feel things from a startup’s perspective again. I met some amazing people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I had moments of humiliation and elation. And I came out of the weekend with refreshed perspective and energy. I’ll do it again!
For those of you who don’t know the reference to the classic movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray finds himself trapped in a time loop, and every day is identical. Every day, events repeat themselves from the original day. He is only able to break out of the loop when he changes his thinking fundamentally, by embracing all aspects of his life.
Entrepreneurs are often in this rut. Every day is a manic Monday, and the concept of a Friday, let alone a weekend is inconceivable. Sometimes this loop is unavoidable, but here are a few pointers for yourself to stay sane when you are in this cycle:
- Give yourself a timeframe. Learn more about timeboxing and the Pomodoro technique.
- Make sure you see a light at the end of the tunnel. Take a step away from the business. This will allow you to see the entire picture holistically. If there is no light, it’s time to abort mission.
- Make sure your team has the same calendar as you. If you are the only one without a weekend, take steps to change that.
- As the character in Groundhog Day did, change your thinking fundamentally. If you are really meant to working hard on your startup, and it is bringing you joy, isn’t everyday a Friday?
And if you need some more tips about how 19 different entrepreneurs got out of the rut, these tips will help.
Let us know if you agree with this comic. How do you deal with the Monday blues?
This comic was originally created for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success by Kriti Vichare.
Who cares about passion, right?
“We don’t have time for fanatics! We have a business to run.”
On the contrary, passion is one of the most important things you can bring to a business. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- If you were extremely, unbelievably tired, would you still work that extra hour on your business?
- If you had no incoming money for 3 years, and after that it would still be variable, would you still want to work on your business?
- Do you periodically dream about your business, and does it keep you awake at night?
If you answered yes to at least one of these, then you are passionate about your idea and believe in it. This is an absolute precursor to starting your own venture.
What exactly is passion in entrepreneurship?
It is a strong and uncontrollable drive to actualize your idea. And why is it necessary? You will face tough days, emotionally draining days, steamrolling days and the only thing that will get you through them is your passion. Last year I was pursuing a business that I thought had good applications and had potential, but I fooled myself into believing I was passionate about it. I plowed through assessing the customers and creating a prototype. However, as soon as I found a competitive threat, I was disenchanted by the entire idea. This lack of passion was an #entrepreneurfail. I decided to switch gears to a business where my passion was more evident.
Where else will passion help you?
Whether you are networking and searching for new leads, trying to get funding, or delivering extra value for your consumer, your passion will come through and propel you that extra step. When times get tough, your passion will be there, like a long-time friend, to pull you through. So go out there and find your passion. It’s something you won’t be able to find anywhere but within you.
Have you found your passion? Tell us how you found your passion in the comments below.
This was created by Kriti Vichare for #entrepreneurfail: Startup Success.
Every year, I have the privilege of engaging with thousands of people around the world, as they embark on a unique journey to develop their very first startup. In this day and age, it’s no secret that launching a startup is one of the most arduous undertakings one can pursue. As a former startup founder, I know all too well how difficult the path of innovation, product market fit, team cohesion, and scaling can be. However, as a former startup founder, I also know that it can be an incredibly worthwhile and life-altering adventure, if you let it be.
Rather than publish another “Crap! This is really freakin’ hard!” article emphasizing how not-fun and not-easy entrepreneurship is, I decided to take a different approach. Below are eight quotes and tidbits of wisdom to help entrepreneurs approach their journey with a bit more optimism and perspective. And trust me, you’re going to need it.
Startups Are Worthwhile
You have to remember that startups are a worthwhile pursuit. It’s going to be an incredibly hard undertaking, but it’s totally worth it! The opportunity to solve long-standing and far-reaching problems, create things that never were, make a massive impact, positively change lives, and push our society forward. The possibilities are endless and the experience is priceless.
Appreciate the Process
Be patient people – with yourself and with others. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and in order for you to build the company of your dreams, you’re going to need to become the person that is capable of leading such a company, and that takes time. Some things happen when you want them to, and some things happen when they’re supposed to. Learn to trust the process.
Always Do Your Best
Yes, things aren’t always going to go smoothly. Yes, you may be questioning where you are right now, but do remember that it is critical you give your all to what this moment right now is requiring. You never know which experience may be that big break, so treat them all as though something great can come of it. Expect that good things will happen, and align your actions to be ready to receive them.
Invest in Relationships
A startup is a business, and a business is operated by people, and in order for your business to succeed, you have to be good at enlisting, investing in, and supporting others in their own personal journeys. There is no one who’s gotten to where they are on their own, so turn down that Beyonce “Me, Myself, and I” track, and go out and invest in building great relationships.
Keep it “100”
Why do it, if it doesn’t serve who you truly are? Sure we all make concessions at times to fit in and be accepted, but it’s up to you to decide where you draw the line. Who am I, really? What do I sincerely want? Get clear on those answers and choose to pursue ventures and work in places that align to that. Afterall, what’s the point of being here, if you’re not at least going to allow yourself to fully enjoy it by being the person you really are.
Now that you’ve gained a bit of clarity on who you are (and also who you’re not), it’s time to act. There’s no point in knowing, if you’re not going to act on that knowledge, so buck up, speak words, and carry out actions that align to your authentic self.
This comes into play most when you start questioning your choices. Am I 100% sure this strategy will work? Am I positive this is the best person to hire? Am I sure this is the right investor to partner with? None of us can predict the future, but you can do your best to make a decision based off what information you have in this moment. Accept that there is only so much you can know at a given time, and trust in your decisions at that time.
Take Personal Responsibility
At one point or another, things are going to hit the fan – it’s called life and it happens to all of us (sorry I didn’t write the rules; I’m just a messenger). A competitor may beat you to the punch, launching a feature your team has been working on for several months, a personal emergency may arise that requires you to step away from work for longer than you’d ever want to, or a key team member may leave, deciding this is no longer the path they want to pursue. Whatever the situation, recognize the power you do have to decide how you react to that situation.
As an entrepreneur, it can often times feel as though building a business is a never-ending cycle of obstacles to overcome. Sure it can be seen this way, or it can be seen as continual opportunities for personal growth and expansion. How you see it is your decision to make. Ultimately, life happens to all of us; it’s how we react to life that differs.
Know of any more great quotes or advice that should be shared? Add them in the comments section below.
If you can read this sentence without thinking about your next sales call, the line of buggy code you have to fix, the intern you must hire, or the appointment you are itching to make….then congratulations! You probably have better focus than many new entrepreneurs.
A key driver of a new entrepreneur is really a laser sharp, extremely directed, pinhole-perfect focus. This unwavering bullseye and motivation to get to a goal separates the successful and the mediocre startup founders.
Easier read than done? Here are some tips from experts who know the importance of focus
- Identify what’s important to getting your first customer and nothing more
- Implement one strategy at a time for growing your business. Move to the next one, once you have assessed all aspects of your current strategy.
- Plan alone time and take breaks, as many of the successful entrepreneurs in this article do. This allows you to recapture and recuperate in your mind
- Set mini goals and mini prizes – e.g. 30 minutes undisturbed will get you 10 minutes of social media time
- Publish a daily schedule and follow it. Give it to someone who will hold you accountable to those deliverables. Setting a schedule allows you to ‘be your own boss’ in a way where you determine what your future self would be doing and keep you accountable to yourself.
- Include an exercise schedule in your daily regimen, as this allows you to consolidate your thoughts.
- Say no at least 10x times than you say yes. Saying no lets you focus on your yes commitments.
- Learn the art of meditating, which is essentially the art of practicing being focused.