For your business to succeed on your terms, it’s essential that you set a clear plan, conduct proper research and build on your destiny as you go.
So goes the plan of action that must accompany any new entrepreneur’s dream: You come up with an idea for a company, gather resources and launch a startup that fulfills that original vision. But in fact implementation of this plan is hardly a given: It can be hard to attain your dream in today’s saturated business ecosystem. According to Statista, in 2018, 15 percent of Americans — or about 49 million people, according to Census data — were involved in the beginning stages of a startup.
And that means fierce competition. In addition, entrepreneurs may fail to ensure that they fulfill the vision they have for their startup. Why? Maybe they’ve lost their creativity, have too many people calling the shots or are fettered by an inability to change. And all those problems point to one thing: These entrepreneurs have lost the utter clarity of task they should have had all along.
If you’re a startup entrepreneur yourself, to succeed with your business, you need to be absolutely clear about your purpose and be flexible enough to change when that’s needed. You need to understand how, exactly, to pursue the destiny you’ve envisioned.
For a good example, I would cite my own company’s history. In the early 1970s, Maurice Saatchi and his brother Charles built advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. The company saw success, but after a boardroom coup in late 1994, Maurice and the senior managers at Saatchi & Saatchi left and decided to start again. They then launched what became M&C Saatchi, as a home for entrepreneurs who wanted to build something themselves. The new company became a partnership of like-minded people from around the world joining together to follow their visions.
If you’re ready to start your own entrepreneurship journey, consider the following strategies to ensure you can stay true to your own vision:
1. CULTIVATE RELENTLESS ENERGY IN YOUR TEAM.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need a nearly endless font of energy to draw from — your business will need you constantly, after all. Your team members should have the same energy, as well. You need people around you who offer skills that you don’t have, so together, you can build on one another’s enthusiasm to reach your shared goals. It’s not always easy to keep that energy going, though. Burnout affects 67 percent of workers at least some of the time, according to Gallup.
To combat burnout from the top down, PT Freedom CEO AJ Rivera recommends that business leaders meditate and seek out mentors and cultivate “a growth mindset,” which can help your team stay the course and stick to your vision. What better example of a growth mindset than Amazon, which got its start as an online bookseller and has since become a giant marketplace?
Today, that “bookseller” has reshaped the customer experience with same-day shipping capabilities, grocery options, cloud services, even its own video content platform. CEO Jeff Bezos and his team have clearly operated with an adaptive business plan, in order to reach the company’s current level of success.
2. CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN THAT ALLOWS ROOM FOR CHANGE.
“Staying the course” and “allowing room for change” might initially sound like contradictions. But that’s not the case when it comes to your business plan. It’s important to stick to your mission, but the path you take to get there might not be the one you originally envisioned. As you come around to understanding your costs, your products or services and your audience, you have to be able to adapt to change.
If you don’t, you could end up like Blockbuster. CEO John Antioco couldn’t see that his path to success might include offering mail-order DVDs or even streaming video, and he actually passed on the opportunity to purchase Netflix. The consequence? He watched his company plummet while Netflix soared. Make sure your business plan is flexible enough to allow unexpected pivots.
3. OPERATE WITH UTTER CLARITY OF TASK.
Every level of your business should operate with complete clarity. Your vision should guide your team’s understanding of your business, and that vision should be clear as soon as you walk through the door each morning. Each member of your team should know how his or her specific tasks help make your vision a reality.
For example, your marketing team’s succinct and professional presentation of your business can help attract customers. Proof of this rule lies with a successful company like Airstream, which beats out its competition via moves like its recently redesigned website and its alignment with luxury and high-quality goods.
If you serve clients, the way your account team members work together should exemplify the way you’ll treat those clients. If you offer products, your production team should make everything you produce as high-quality as your best-selling offerings. Together, you’ll deliver on what your vision promises.
As an entrepreneur, you need to eat, sleep and breathe your products or services. Learn to accept the way you are and what you need. To help your business succeed on your terms, you’ll need to dig deep to find relentless energy, create a flexible business plan and operate with utter clarity every step of the way. From there, you’ll be able to follow your vision and create a successful startup you can truly believe in.
Originally published in Entrepreneur.