Five keys to kickstarting your full entrepreneur potential (Inc)

By Martin Zwiling

Summary of key principles that you can follow to join that select realm of recognized and successful entrepreneurs:

  1. Thinking and talking won’t get you there – just do it.

Starting something new is risky, no matter how many experts have reviewed it, or how much money you have. You can’t win a race that you never start. The key here is to gather the relevant facts, risks, and resources, make a decision, and move forward. Real entrepreneurs start experiments.

A while back, one of my aspiring entrepreneur friends was trying to impress me with his expertise, by bragging that he had the idea for a couple of innovations before anyone else, but he just never got around to filing a patent before someone stole it from him. As an angel investor, you can bet I wasn’t convinced he would ever start his next proposal.

  1. Plan to learn from what doesn’t work, but never give up.

Based on my experience, most startup failures occur simply because the founder gives up too soon, without exploring creative alternatives. More determined entrepreneurs take every step that fails as a new insight to success, pivots to a better alternative, and moves on toward success. Most people don’t remember that Bill Gates first software venture, called  Traf-O-Data, was a dismal failure. Jeff Bezos admits to having make an embarrassing number of bad investments, which he calls painful learning experiences, but he never gave up.

  1. Rally people behind a higher purpose, not just a product.

The customer culture today responds best to a greater vision for improving society and the planet, which can easily sustain a constant stream of new products. Challenge your team, and your customers, with expanding their mindset, achieving personal goals, and changing the world. For example, renowned TOMS shoe company founder Blake Mycoskie continually made it clear that his most important goal was making life better for the less fortunate.

Thus he donates a pair for every pair sold, and keeps his employees engaged by sending them internationally to work directly with constituents who can most benefit from the donations.

  1. Incent and reward new ideas with action, not more study.

Counter the traditional business thinking that the key to long-term growth is repeatable processes and volume manufacturing. Today the key is building momentum, customization, and continuous innovation. Don’t let your team forget that you can’t have innovation without new action.

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