Success comes not from talent or inspiration, but from relationships and good community.
Nothing will permanently change your definition of success like launching a start-up.
You may have a terrific concept for a product or service. You might have keen analytic skills, or a talent for logistics. Maybe you’re a ruthless negotiator.
This is all very useful. And ultimately irrelevant.
No matter how determined you believe yourself to be, success in entrepreneurship is often dependent on a singular quality not taught in any business course: your ability to form and cultivate quality relationships.
The value of good will when launching a company cannot be understated. You will need help. Behind every successful startup are visionaries with the volition to turn dreams into reality. Behind them are the people who believe in them: their investors, their advisors, their vendors, their spouses, family, and friends.
Without their support, their guidance, their faith in you, you cannot succeed.
It doesn’t matter how great your product is, or how well conceived your business plan. Yes, your financial projections have to be solid, and you must be able to demonstrate the ability to execute your grand designs, but at the end of the day, people do not invest their time, money, and access to their social networks in grandiose ideas.
People invest in people. People need to believe in you. People must want to help you. People have to want you to succeed as badly as you want to succeed.
This is not to say the purpose of cultivating good will is to reap the benefits of the kindness of others. This is to say: if it’s a good way to live, it’s probably a good way to conduct business. Profit margins and cash flow are definitely a metric by which the success of a business is measured, but the quality of your relationships is the metric by which the success of your life is measured.
Making boatloads of money is nice. Making friends is important. Being an active member of a strong community has lasting value.
If you are tenacious and fortunate, you might achieve monetary independence or critical acclaim. If you are truly lucky, the people who were there with you at the beginning, the people who saw you through your trials and tribulations, will be there to share in your triumphs. Success isn’t about how much money you can make; it’s about validating the faith of everyone who believed in you.
Photo by jModus/Flickr.