from INC.com Zine 10 June 15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
The difference between a startup and a hugely successful business is often a few years (or more!), tons of hard work, a pinch of luck, vision, and timing. The vast majority of successful businesses, corporations and entities were at one time a startup. That’s right–the Starbucks and Walmarts of the world were once mom and pop joints struggling to get by. If you’re an entrepreneur or startup yourself, you probably already know that over 90 % of all new businesses fail. The odds are stacked against you, and it’s one tough lesson after another to be learned. But why learn all those rough and tumble lessons yourself when others have already blazed the trail for you? A lot of successful CEOs and founders who were once in your shoes are happy to dole out advice, but are you ready to take it? Let’s start off with 5 famous entrepreneurs and then go into 3 up and coming entrepreneurs.
1. Listen to all Feedback. “Take as much feedback (+/-) from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have…seek critical feedback. Ask them what’s wrong. You often have to draw it out in a nuanced way to figure out what’s wrong,” advises Musk. People don’t like to complain or point out faults, but that’s what will make your business stronger. You don’t have to agree with them or necessarily follow their suggestions. But the more feedback you have, the more information you’ll have to make the right decisions for your business. Elon Musk CEO of Tesla, Solar City & SpaceX
2. Hire Passion. Who would have thought Steve Jobs had such a soft side? He attributes passion to being a major driving force with hiring decisions. “When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because, if they fall in love with Apple; everything else will take care of itself. They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them.” Just like your real baby, you want to hire a nanny that loves your bundle of joy almost as much as you do. That’s what fosters a healthy, happy baby
3. Let your Passion lead you. “I had a very strong Vision for the way Chipotle was going to look & taste,” recalls Steve Ells, Founder, when talking about the history of what’s now one of the most well-known “fast food eateries”. An art history major who went to culinary school after college because of his passion for cooking. He was inspired by the economic model of Chipotle while eating at a small neighborhood Taqueria. He used what he learned at culinary school and while working at a restaurant to “really elevate fast food.” Follow your cravings (sometimes literally!), learn first-hand from various models of your industry, and find a unique way to do something better.
4. Pursue your Passion Projects. Richard Branson, Virgin Co’s is all about passion projects and has been since he founded Virgin when he was just 20 years old. “When I started Virgin from a basement in West London, there was no great plan or strategy. I didn’t set out to build a business empire. For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that’s going to make a real difference to other people’s lives,”. Of course, you can’t find success on passion alone. However, if you’re a huge book lover with a degree in English but have 0 experience in Search Engine Optimization (but you hear it’s a cash cow!), you likely won’t have success in SEO. You have 0 passion, 0 experience, and a whole lot of competition.
5. A Passion for Focusing on your Vision. “To get good payback on an investment, there needs to be a good strategy, a roadmap, adjusting the course with many corrections at different stages of the journey. The point is to reduce the cost of going to scale,” Of course, Ron Bodkin,CEO of Think Big Analytics is largely focused on big data, but that approach can be tweaked to suit any entrepreneur’s venture. It’s why being flexible and not sticking to The Plan “no matter what” is critical. Keeping a budget in mind, practicing frugality, & knowing that plans are necessary, but can be constantly in transition are all building blocks of success.
6. Passion for the Customer. “Do you want fries with that?” is not only McDonalds line. It’s a line that got Jerry Murrell rich – with his 5 Guys burgers. He didn’t find success as an entrepreneur until his four sons were college-aged (but didn’t want to go to college!) so Jerry & his 4 sons founded Five Guys. “We figure our best salesman is our Customer. Treat that person right, he’ll walk out the door and sell for you. From the beginning, I wanted people to know that we put all our money into the food. That’s why the decor is so simple–red & white tiles. We don’t spend our money on dcor. Or on guys in chicken suits. But we’ll go overboard on food.” This are the real “secret ingredients” of Five Guys and for any business.
7. Passion to reach the Customer. “There are a lot of startups that burn through cash excessively. Yes, you need money to fuel growth, but if your primary strategy is pure spending, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Once your team is used to a culture of spending, it’s extremely hard to roll back and put accountability in place. Learn from the tech companies that went bankrupt in the late 90s when the capital markets dried up. “Be laser focused on your marketing – place bets on content, not ads, and use the proper tools to ensure you’re making data-driven decisions. In today’s age of rapid change, you should focus on creating great content that will inspire, inform, and educate your ideal customers. This is what works today. Things change quickly in this space. Vincent Mifsud, CEO Scribble Live
Conclusion: These 7 entrepreneurs were once standing exactly where you are. Use their lessons for your own Startup, and learn from these great founders. Perhaps by doing so, you’ll struggle a little less, live a little longer and be a whole lot wealthier & happier = than you are today. “Follow your Passion and the Money will follow.”
Comments: Do you have any ideas on using your passion to succeed?