Confession: Giddy joy pervades my fingertips these days. The reason? The challenge of starting anew.
See, I’m a start-up junky. And next week my two partners and I are launching our newco. I can’t wait!
I’ve been engaged in start-ups since 1996, when I joined CommunicationsNow as an editor to successfully launch several publications serving the wireless industry. Then I did a stint as media relations manager for a dot-bomb in Southern California called IPNet Solutions.
This past decade saw the successful launch of Widmeyer‘s Design & Advertising practice. After that I helped get Sage Communications‘ PR practice off the ground. And most recently, I started, built and sold Livingston Communications, a social media boutique.
The Next Venture
So with my sixth venture (second as owner), what have I learned? What five suggestions will I bring to the table that will benefit my partners and clients?
1) Do what you love! Most people hate their jobs, but if you own your own company, then that’s your fault. In fact, it’s all your fault. There’s no one to blame, so make it worth loving!
2) Love your critics/enemies, too. Plenty of naysayers out there will tell you that it will be hard, that most newcos fail, etc. This time, it’s “Well, the economy is not that great,” or “Your focus won’t yield the most cash.” These people should be seen as a) sources of information about possible weaknesses that you can address, and b) points of inspiration.
Listen to criticism even if it burns. They may be right about your offering, and don’t you want to address that?
Conversely, I always love winning when I’ve been told it’s unlikely or impossible. When I receive resistance from naysayers, it only fuels me. To me, success comes from personal commitment to achieving a goal as opposed to what other people tell me I should be or can achieve. Many times the reasons find basis in their own fears.
3) Play to your weaknesses. If you’re not good at something, own it. Then outsource it or hire people to fill that role. In this new entity, my partners’ strengths play to my weaknesses and vice versa. I am very grateful for that. Now I can focus on areas that I truly excel in.
4) Embrace failure. Most of the companies I’ve been involved with sustained themselves or were sold, so ultimate failure is not my experience. Failing is. Failure in ventures always happens, but serves as the experience necessary for improvement and excellence. The question isn’t whether you will fail or have disappointments. It’s how fast can you get up, and evolve.
5) Don’t get set on facts. Markets change, people change, situations change, everything changes. The only thing in life and business that you can be certain of is change. Be ready to handle the comings and goings of relationships and situations. Impermanence is the rule of thumb.
That’s my big five, the rest stay in my head for now. But if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, please read Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation. It’s the best book I’ve read on the topic.