Make sure you’ve crossed these five things off the to-do list before approaching venture capitalist, applying for a business loan or crowd-sourcing funds.
In the race to gain profits, entrepreneurs usually de-value or altogether forgo critical elements of business that will sustain them and their ventures over the long-term. The intangibles of success are not available for purchase; however, those willing to work hard and smart will acquire all of the five things I think entrepreneurs need that money can’t buy.
- Innovation: As stated in the post “5 Acronyms Entrepreneurs Can’t Afford to Forget,” money, no matter how glorified in business, can’t buy innovation. Innovation is a result of studying a problem with a goal of providing a solution that transforms ecosystems. Innovation, simply put, means approaching a problem from a unique perspective, one that no human has attempted before. However, in order to have an impact, innovation must be linked to a strategy and therefore will require significant hours spent in R&D – good news is: it doesn’t cost a thing to pay attention.
- Result-Driven Strategy: Business plans are not what I recommend entrepreneurs focus their efforts on, mainly because the world moves too fast. Instead, I often suggest that individuals seeking to build a brand draft a strategy around two things: impact and outcome. When you enter the market with a clearly defined outcome, your activities, although seemingly sporadic at times, will eventually yield prosperous result; and your impact will be much easier to quantify and articulate. For example, the CEO of a trucking company may say his outcome is to secure up to 5 government contracts in the first three years of operation that equal or is greater than $100,000 a year. However, the impact of the venture maybe to transform the way companies delivers products to customers. While the entrepreneur might not have a fully fleshed out business plan, when he/she has clearly defined their outcome and impact, a result-driven strategy will be much easier to create, refine, implement and follow.
- Trust/Solid Reputation: It’s no secret that people do business with those they like and trust. Regardless of your logo or flashy marketing campaign, if consumers don’t trust you nor hold your product/service in high regard, then you’ll never accomplish your mission, whatever it may be. Instead of spending countless hours and dollars running from event to event handing out your business card and pitching your product/service, invest in building and nurturing strategic relationships and in the capacity to follow-through, and your reputation will go viral. Remember, the best marketing is word of mouth and recommendations.
- Common Sense: I hate to be one to break it to you, but common sense ain’t so common. Nor is it anything you can buy, download or pirate. Common sense, defined as the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way, usually comes from removing your head from the clouds and applying thought to logistics, priorities and outcomes. The acquisition of common sense can be accelerated through partnerships, experience and mentorship.
- Mentorship: No matter how good you think you are, there’s always someone more efficient and effective at what you do than you. Instead of making that person the center of your jealous rage or even idol worship, court that person and ask for mentorship. Woo them with your outcome and seduce them with your impact. Be aggressive, yet mindful of their time and commitments. Be direct in your ask of them and tout the values you believe you share with them. Whatever you do though, don’t leave home without a mentor.
These are not the only five that entrepreneurs need; these are just the top five that I, as the CEO of Techbook Online, have followed. I would love to hear your thoughts. What are other concepts entrepreneurs need to grasp before holding a check? Tweet me (@floodthedrummer) your thoughts with the hastag #MindYourBusiness!
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: Courtney Dirks/Flickr