For over 12 years, I have helped a significant number of entrepreneurs work through the startup stage of their first venture. Upon meeting a first-time entrepreneur, one question they always ask is: “What is the most important piece of advice you can give me?” My response: “Be Patient”.
Patience doesn’t make for sexy business magazine covers or interesting cocktail conversation. We all want to hear about the company that filed its Articles of Incorporation on May 12th and received $12 million in venture capital funding on May 23rd. Also, patience doesn’t quite jibe with the huge jolt of adrenaline you’ve got flowing through your veins now that you’ve quit your job and taken this huge leap into the world of entrepreneurship. However, patience is what will allow your company to make it through the perilous first few years of operations.
Here are some tips on incorporating patience into you business regimen:
1. Create a Realistic Business Plan
Here’s my advice for creating a Business Plan: For every revenue projection, divide it in half. For every expense projection, double it.
Alright, perhaps you don’t need to be this punitive in your projections, but, please be realistic in your business plan. Setting unrealistically high budgets and goals will only defeat you in your business before you’ve even started. You may begin to panic when you are unable to meet the benchmarks in your Business Plan, when those benchmarks were useless in the first place. Remember, too, that your Business Plan should be a living document. Modify it as experience dictates.
2. Focus and Be Diligent
Don’t jump at every opportunity. When you go back to eating ramen after a decade of corporate security and perks, it is easy to think you have made the wrong decision and try to leap into another venture, thinking: “That will be the ticket!”
Don’t do it! You’ve got your Business Plan as a roadmap – follow it. If you are uncertain as to the practicality of your Business Plan, revisit #1, above.
As a business owner myself, I am intimately familiar with the importance of flexibility, but there is a difference between being flexible and being unfocused. Being flexible is selling your dresses to a discount store, when you had aspired to sell them to a luxury department store. Being unfocused is opening a yoga studio because you panicked after not selling any dresses in the first two months.
It takes time to build a brand. Have confidence in your Business Plan and don’t lose sight of your goals in a moment of doubt. Read your Business Plan every night. Memorize your Mission Statement and chant it in the shower 10 times each morning. Be flexible, but don’t lose your focus.
3. Network with other entrepreneurs
In my own experience, I have found that creating a network of entrepreneurs is invaluable. Experienced entrepreneurs will give you advice and first-time entrepreneurs will give you assurance. Patience will come easier when you network with people facing similar situations.
4. Realize that an “Overnight Success” Takes Years to Build
Despite the buzz about internet millionaires and investment gurus, the truth is that it takes years and years of hard work to build a successful business. In that time, focus on your brand, fine-tune your business plan, and build a solid network. There are no easy roads, no get rich quick schemes – just hard work and dedication. Take solace in the words of Samuel Goldwyn who once joked: “Give me a couple of years, and I’ll make that actress an overnight success”.