Updated: Dec 5, 2019
You woke up one day and realized that you have a great idea that can impact the world and make a difference in people’s lives. Now what? This is the first question my students and clients ask me and it’s the starting point in creating a product or putting together a service that you are passionate about. First, most entrepreneur self-starters will find and read every article they can about entrepreneurship on Google, talk to a bunch of people about their idea(s) and explore its possibilities further. However, most entrepreneurs quickly learn that every “expert” has their own opinion on what an entrepreneur needs to do to succeed. Personally, I trust academics a lot less than I trust someone who has actually been through the process, and if that person has been through the process and failed, I tend to trust them even more, but that’s my take on it.
Many entrepreneur’s innovative products and services started out exactly like this, and it’s a common starting point on a path that almost every entrepreneur follows.
Where most entrepreneurs start is more of a function of how they operate as an individual than a scripted procedure that they can follow although entrepreneurs that plan out their goal’s timeline tend to be more disciplined and pragmatic. Unfortunately, that trait doesn’t mean they will be any more successful than someone who throws a lot of caution to the wind. Sometimes they can plan these things to death and if they are anal about their timelines, they could be setting themselves up for failure. I call this “Entrepreneurial Rigidity”. Sometimes the best laid out plans run afoul, especially since most entrepreneurs don’t understand all of the wild card factors such as money, engineering, family and professional help – at some point in time they will need lawyers, accountants, engineers and maybe even a psychologist. The point is they will need to talk to a lot of people that will provide them with a variety of ideas and options and the hard part is deciphering which advice to follow and which advice to ignore.
Starting out as an entrepreneur is probably one of the most exciting and possibly the most stressful thing you will do in your life. The trick to managing the entire process is leaving yourself with a lot of options at every step. I often find myself telling my students and clients a story of two different types of people, one a hunter and the other a farmer, and ask that they do a personal assessment on which one they most identify with. The traits between them are very different, the hunter is impulsive, makes quick rapid decisions and executes tasks quickly. Picture this, in the caveman days, a caveman is chasing a rabbit and then sees a boar in his peripheral vision – the hunter immediately breaks off chasing the rabbit and starts chasing the boar. Why? Because the risk reward is greater by changing direction quickly, bigger animal, bigger feast. On the flip side, the farmer is pragmatic, plans out his crops, does the initial work, then sits on his porch waiting for the crops to grow so they can be harvested. After all of that hard work, the farmer is susceptible to factors outside his control, such as weather, bug infestation, etc…. where the hunter, assuming he/she catches the boar, reaps the immediate reward. The farmer is more patient relying on his/her plans.
The first step in an entrepreneur’s path is to identify which trait of the two above they have, are they a hunter or a farmer. If they identify the trait honestly, they can better appreciate how they are programmed to handle the upcoming challenges, knowing and understanding their personal strengths and weaknesses and plan more efficiently for outcomes.
I believe that a majority of entrepreneurs have the hunter trait. This trait is better suited for the types of challenges an entrepreneur will experience moving forward. However, this entrepreneur will probably make more mistakes and must be open minded to learn from them and not dissuaded by them from carrying on. I am not telling you that the entrepreneurs with the farmer trait will not be successful entrepreneurs – but if you fall within the farmer trait, you must be open to learn from others quickly along the way. Too much thinking and planning on a single issue can create “paralysis by analysis” and you can run the risk of losing certain windows of opportunity because you didn’t act/react quickly enough.
Most entrepreneurs are hyper-focused on their product or service and sometimes lose sight of what’s really happening around them. One method to combat being hyper-focused is a “step-back day”, a day you reserve to yourself to conduct an out of body assessment, looking down at yourself to see the big picture around you. It’s great therapy for all entrepreneurs.
About the Author – Professor Mark R. Basile, Esq. is a serial entrepreneur, business attorney and Professor of Law & Entrepreneurship at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in New York. Mr. Basile founded and taken 3 companies public; helped hundreds of entrepreneurs as a mentor and legal adviser; represents numerous private and public entrepreneurial companies and teaches law students a practical course on entrepreneurship.
If you have questions, you can reach Professor Basile or his staff of Attorney-Entrepreneurs through his website at www.thebasilelawfirm.com or call the firm at 516.455.1500.