Over the years, I’ve been privileged to be surrounded by many accomplished entrepreneurs. All of them have different stories about why they chose their path of entrepreneurship, and how their business grew, but all of them have one thing in common – instead of giving up when things went wrong, they learned to roll with the punches, and adapt to the given situation.
You see, the truth is, becoming an entrepreneur, or a small business owner, is a scary proposition. Whether you have capital lined up or you’re bootstrapping, and whether you’ve taken the plunge voluntarily or been forced to try your hand at entrepreneurship because you were laid off, there is always an element of fear involved.
Successful entrepreneurs leverage fear to their advantage. They feed off the excitement and exhilaration like an adrenaline junkie would when sky diving, leveraging the emotional high to keep them going, even when the chips are down.
Entrepreneurs also learn that failure is not the end – it’s a chance to regroup, rethink and retry, with a little wiser outlook and perspective on the world.
This realization – that everyone “gets it wrong” once in a while, that trial and error is an important part of life – which sets the successful entrepreneur apart from those entrepreneurs who just scrape by, or who unfortunately don’t make it at all.
Sometimes, Less Really Is More
Every business I’ve ever started (which now tallies eight) has been founded with very little capital – it was boostrapped. While I am sure it’s nice to have boat loads of financial backing, starting out on a shoestring budget reinforces the idea of the learning curve.
Of course, the less money you have to work with, the steeper the curve, but then again, it’s also an incentive to learn more, and to do so much faster.
When you set out on an entrepreneurial endeavor with very little cash, you’re forced to learn how to do more for yourself. Instead of hiring consultants, you learn to cope on your own. You’re also far more immersed in your own business at that start than you otherwise would be, so you always have your finger on the proverbial pulse.
That kind of connectedness to your business is invaluable, and provides you with a clear and fluid feedback loop on any immediate challenges that company is experiencing.
This allows you to find solutions quickly and creatively. Overall, in a bootstrapped business, there’s less margin for error, which can make the process of starting a business even more of an adventure!
Change Is Good
Of course, there’s also the old adage – adapt or die. This is statement is a truth in the modern business world, and I can’t begin to emphasize to you how many successful entrepreneurs I know who started out marketing one product or service, and discovered along the way that something else entirely was what would ultimately work for them.
Some stumbled onto their new path purely by accident, and some made a conscious shift. The bottom line is this: they all evolved their business to what the market demanded.
The secret to coping with change, and even thriving because of it, is to make sure you are always ready to adapt your business – also know as pivoting.
If you take on a project that is slightly outside of what your business plan tells you, and it’s a roaring success, then perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy, and make room for pursuing that avenue on either a micro or macro scale (depending on the resources you have at your disposal).
Finding new streams of potential income is what every entrepreneur aims for, and if a viable new stream of revenue is found, tested and confirmed, even if it’s by accident, then you’d be well served to adapt and adjust your strategic plan.
As an entrepreneur – you never know, the new stream of revenue may one day become your main stream of revenue – just the big break your business may need.
Expect to Learn – A LOT
The simple truth of entrepreneurship is this: when you first venture out as an entrepreneur, things are not going to go as smoothly as you’d like or would’ve expected. In fact, there will be times when you feel like you’re adrift in the ocean, in a rowing boat.
However, by taking control, and riding out the waves of those learning experiences, you will constantly be learning, adapting and applying that new knowledge.
Take well known New York based entrepreneur and TV personality, Donald Trump, for example. He may be a mega mogul now, earning millions for each episode of The Apprentice, and sitting at the helm of a multibillion dollar empire, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
In fact, there have been times when the Donald’s ship seemed to be heading for disaster. But he’s learned from his mistakes, adapted his plans, changed his tactics, and, most importantly, never (ever) given up.
If you take the ups and downs in stride, which will invariably occur when choosing the entrepreneurial lifestyle, then there is no such thing as failure. Instead, failure simply becomes a part of the learning curve.
So, if you meet failure face to face -grit your teeth, go back to the drawing board, and learn something!