You didn’t get into business to fail, but 8 out of 10 people reading this story probably will at some point. That’s the nature of business, even the best ideas and the hardest workers can get caught up in problems that bring them down. Might be you, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s some advice from a guy who’s built something that works.
Build Your Reputation
First, don’t buy your own hype, build your own reputation. Early on, if you have any success – or even if you have a certain flair or swagger – people will see your potential and attempt to exploit it. One of the simplest ways is to appeal to your ego. They will express all sorts of admiration about you and what you have done – even if you haven’t done anything yet. You will hear about your “talent” your “potential” and your “upside.” Ignore all that noise. Don’t fool yourself. Potential is all well and good, but if you haven’t done anything, you haven’t really earned the accolades. Do first. Then you will KNOW when people are truly impressed or if they are just blowing smoke.
Commit to Your Craft
Don’t get distracted. Serial entrepreneurs love nothing more than a new “good idea”. Don’t let yourself leap at every opportunity put in front of you. Have very narrow perimeters and very specific criteria for what you will or will not listen to. Don’t even waste time with an “offer” if it doesn’t meet this criteria. Be the best at what you do. Let someone else do that other thing. Hopefully one of your less-disciplined competitors.
Play to Your Strengths
Build something you understand. Everyone talks about passion, and that’s important, but what you really need is to be involved in something you actually understand. Build around your strengths, not just your interests. Doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do what you love – you can and you should. But it needs to be in a way that connects with your style, approach, and talent.
Know When to Leave
Take only the time you need to say or do “it.” Know what you do and how you do it well enough to convincingly pitch it in less than 30 seconds. Then have another 2 minutes of compelling extrapolation in case someone is really interested. Beyond that, as a practice, don’t waste time with small talk. Get to the point and get on with life. Remember, time should be invested, especially if it belongs to someone else.
Waste Not, Want Not
Live like a startup, not a high roller. This is good advice even after you “make it”. Even if you have plenty of it, wasted money is still wasted money. Never assume the cash will always be rolling in.
Now, in closing, this is no magic bullet, because there simply isn’t one. The advice here is simply from a guy who knows, who understands where you are and wants to help you avoid pitfalls and build a foundation for success.
Roman Temkin is a NYC based Real Estate Developer.