by Paul B. Brown
Lives there anyone anywhere old enough to work who has not had an idea for a new company? Who has not said on at least one occassion, “someone could make a fortune if they’d just…”
So how come we have so few entrepreneurs?
Study the type of ideas on which highly successful growth companies were originally based, and you will have to conclude that the reason there aren’t more successful entrepreneurs is that there aren’t many people with the need or nerve to try out their ideas in the marketplace.
The successful entrepreneur is the person who makes an idea happen, even if there are a lot of unexpected problems, and even if it’s not a very good idea in the first place.
But they don’t do it with one roll of the dice. The most successful entrepreneurs we know are extremely risk adverse.They don’t do it by taking large bets. Instead they:
1. Start with desire.
You find/think of something you want. You don’t need a lot of passion, you only need sufficient desire to get started. (“I really want to start a restaurant, but I haven’t a clue if I will ever be able to open one.”)
2. Take a smart step as quickly as possible toward their goal.
What’s a smart step? It’s one where you act quickly with the means at hand. What you know, who you know, and anything else that’s available. (“I know a great chef, and if I beg all my family and friends to back me, I might have enough money to open a place.”) You make sure that step is never going to cost more than it would be acceptable to you to lose should things not work out. And you bring others along to acquire more resources, spread the risk and confirm the quality of your idea.
3. Reflect and build on what you have learned from taking that step.
You need to do that because every time you act, reality changes. Sometimes the step you take gets you nearer to what you want (“I should be able to afford something just outside of downtown”); sometimes what you want changes (“It looks likes there are an awful lot of Italian restaurants nearby. We are going to have to rethink our menu.”) If you pay attention, you always learn something. So after you act, ask: Did those actions get you closer to your goal? (“Yes. It looks like I will be able to open a restaurant.”) Do you need additional resources to draw even closer? (“Yes. I’ll need to find another chef. The one I know can only do Italian.”) Do you still want to obtain your objective? (“Yes.”)
Act. Learn. Build. Repeat. This is what defeats uncertainity…providing that you actually start and try to make your idea a reality.
Paul B. Brown is co-author of Just Start published by Harvard Business Review Press.