Starting a business is a very challenging task. People who have not done it have no clear understanding.
The first and maybe most important is a thought from Phil Wernig.
“The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” Alan Ashley-Pitt, nom de plume of Phil Wernig
You cannot create and build a successful business by being ordinary. It is necessary to be different, and that is not always easy for people. It usually involves doing something others have not done or have done in a less effective way than you are doing it. It is usually a great mistake to try to be first. There are reasons. Most commonly, first means being an amateur.
Find what others have not observed. You could notice that Google was not the first search tool, and Ford did not make the first automobile. The key thought was expressed by a GE executive I knew. “I don’t need to be first. I need to be the first to be right.” Look for an idea that has promise, but the current iteration is failing or unable to scale. Do you think Facebook could have been built successfully before MySpace? Maybe, maybe not?
Make sure you have enough time and money. Businesses take longer to develop than people think. How many invoices did Amazon create in its first six months? One. Exactly one. How many does your business plan assume? More than one, I’ll bet.
Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. You need associates.
Ones who can tell you when you are overlooking something or being obsessive about a failing idea, and second, cheerleaders. There are few who can pull off the single founder trick. Bill Gates had Paul Allen and Steve Balmer. Almost no one knows everything, is motivated to work the hours, and put up with the blind alleys and failed great ideas. Cheerleaders help.
Elon Musk might be an exception, but I have not fully studied his early experiences.
You don’t have to be a multi-billionaire, but every business follows the same path. Pick up a copy of Shoe Dog, the story of Phil Knight and Nike. It will make the points. And it is a fun read. There are more. Be prepared for the soft side of success.
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