I talk with entrepreneurs and business owners every day, and when conversations involve how they started their business, the stories have a familiar theme: What began with a dream lends to the development of an idea, and the need to see it through. But from there, every business is different, because every business owner is different.
How do you take your unique business idea and your unique point of view and turn it into a thriving business?
What are some essentials that every entrepreneur must have in place, no matter the industry or type of business they are starting?
I recently spoke with JT McCormick, CEO of Scribe Media, who had some great perspective on this. He told me he’s never heard of an entrepreneur who dreamed of starting a business so that they could be in charge of operational metrics, HR or accounts payable. The day-to-day operational realities may not be part of the dream, but every business has to have them in place.
So, as you make your startup dream a reality, there are some critical skills that every new entrepreneur can benefit from understanding and executing – in your own unique way, of course.
I’m dividing these essentials into two major categories: The first is a set of what I would call intangibles, or “soft skills.” The second is a group of specific strategies, or tactics that are critical for success.
Below are the ingredients you need to really pave the way for success in any new venture. Let’s dig in!
Critical soft skills
Getting these soft skills right, I would argue, is nothing short of essential for the success of a startup venture.
You get to do something you are really excited about, and you are in charge of your new venture. That’s a spectacular opportunity, so gratitude is really in order here. Staying grounded in gratitude just makes all the other granular details of starting a business easier to navigate. Don’t discount gratitude.
JT talked with me about how he came around to an abundance mindset. He didn’t graduate from high school, which caused a lot of internal doubt early on in his career. At a critical juncture, he decided he could not survive or thrive if he tried to hide or felt shame about his past. He has since shifted to an abundance mindset, one in which every day is full of promise.
There is more than enough to go around for everyone, so how can you make decisions that are a win for all involved? That is the heart of an abundance mindset.
JT reminded me of this critical point: such a mindset is not just about your individual mindset. The real essential is to think in an abundance mindset for yourself, your team and your target market.
Learn from your mistakes
JT shared a really interesting experience with this. At Scribe, he was basically called in to save a startup. He became CEO while the founders were still very much involved with the business. For a while, JT really deferred to the co-founders, even when he thought a decision was pointing the company in the wrong direction.
With that attitude, the company kept going in the wrong direction. The co-founders finally came to him (in a pretty incredible demonstration of humility, I must say) and told him, “We hired you as CEO because we needed someone to make the hard but correct business decisions. Stop deferring to us!” JT understood and learned from this mistake. Scribe is now a thriving business, with everyone playing to their strengths.
As you start up a new business, mistakes will be made. Having the humility to acknowledge, learn and grow following these mistakes is another essential startup skill.
While soft skills should not be ignored, what are the specific strategies and tactics essential for any startup to really get down to business?
I recently had another conversation, this time with David Osborn, entrepreneur and operating partner at Keller Williams. His success came on a long and winding journey, as happens for many of us. His initial focus was to sell Keller Williams real estate franchises. However, he wasn’t selling at the rate he wanted to, so he bought some of the franchises himself and wound up the largest franchise owner in the organization.
It was all about taking the opportunities put in front of him that ultimately led to David’s success. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit in a nutshell, right?
Clarify vision and goals
This one seems simple, but it often gets overlooked and under-appreciated: Set a vision for what you want to accomplish, list some SMART goals that will get you headed in that direction, and make sure everyone involved on your team understands how to get there and is on board with your vision.
Hire great people
David shared that early on in his real estate career, he realized there were many things that he was not the best prepared to accomplish. Now with more experience under his belt, he is very careful about hiring people who know their stuff and are a good fit for the organization.
Understand your strengths and limitations as an entrepreneur. Know what (or who) you need alongside you to bring your vision and business goals to life – that’s another startup essential.
Business development is a must
Another really crucial point David brought up when we spoke was his relentlessness around prospecting. This is a guy who started at zero in real estate, so he had to hustle to make the calls, hone his pitch and do whatever it took to get in front of and win over potential clients.
Business development never stops; it is an essential skill to master, especially at the startup stage. And like muscle memory, the repetition of these business development tasks makes them a natural part of your daily routine.
Remember, the business you’re starting is unique. You’re embarking upon a path that no one else has charted before. But with a few startup essentials, you can clear the way for a rock solid awesome future.
Onward with gusto!