Category: Persistence

“When it is dark enough you can see the stars.” – Charles A. Beard

This one came from the great series, “From The Earth To The Moon.”  The series showed the glories and victories of NASA’s journey to the Moon but it also shared the failures, which were numerous.

A corollary is this, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

When you are headed down a path, you have set up all your assumptions and milestones on which you’ve built your hope.  Then you hang on.  This produces all the great stories of loyalty and perseverance.

But sometimes, it takes a total meltdown in order to see new potential.  As long as you head down a certain path, you are focused on what’s in front and not so much on what’s around you.  Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.  The tasks make us feel like we’re making progress.  Robin Williams in “Dead Poet’s Society” made his students stand on their desk to get a different perspective.

Once a week or once a month, stand on your own desk (whatever that means to you) and take a look around.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

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My son is now an ‘entrepreneur’. That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job. – Ted Turner

Strange comment coming from an iconic entrepreneur…

Thankfully, we are living in the post industrial age when success is not tied to a lifelong career with a corporation.  But the cliche is true: “Along with freedom comes great responsibility.”  Entrepreneurs embrace the fact that their destiny is in their hands and not dependent on the prescribed rules of the corporate career ladder.

In the startup stage, your boss is not the shareholders.  Your boss is the customer.  This changes as you grow and take on investors and other stakeholders but a least in the early days, you have the singular focus of satisfying one group.  This is the stage where value is created.  Embrace it and work maniacally toward getting note customers.

As for Mr. Turner’s opinion, you’ll work harder than any job you ever had enriching someone else.

Blogging Gazelle is publish daily by Shawn Carson

 

“In order to get out of the funk, you have to surround yourself with people who aren’t funky.” – Peggy Grant

Entrepreneurship is hard enough on it’s own and you will have your down days.  You will hear disparaging things from all sorts of people who don’t have your best interest at heart; your competitors, certain customers, bankers and VC’s to name a few.  In the non-profit world, there are community stakeholders who have competing agendas.  It’s the way it is.

You should develop you inner circle.  That’s a small group of people you trust and who understand what you are trying to do.  Meet with them regularly, either as a group or just one at a time for coffee.  Consider them the Board of Directors of You, Inc.  These people will encourage you, hold you accountable and keep you centered on your path.

Those spreading the negative waves will find you with no problem but you have to seek out your inner circle.  They are there but they must be asked.  They are the kind of people who will share with you their profound experience but they would never force it.

Never waste their time.  Have specific questions ready to ask them and followup on what they tell you to do.  They won’t invest in whining but they will help you conquer challenges.

Forget about age, gender and cultural difference.  There are many smart people I rely on who are younger than me.  Wisdom is about experience, not age or race.

Form your inner circle long before you need them.  Desperation is never attractive and shows a lack of planning.

Show your gratitude by being successful and passing on your experience with the next person who asks.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt me while I’m doing it.” – Ray Danner, Founder of Shoney’s

A lot of “experts” will review your business model and tell you it doesn’t make sense or they don’t get it or more likely, just simply smile and say “that’s nice”.

Success in a startup is not measured by winning pitch competitions or even being accepted in a great accelerator program.  All these institutions have people who judge your idea by preset criteria and they bring their personal biases into it.

Success in a startup is not measured by getting venture capital.  The statistics still say that less than 10% of those seeking institutional funding will find it.  Less than 2% of them will actually provide a return.

A funny thing happens along the way…  As you start to get traction and grow your customer base, the opinion of the experts starts to improve.

Only one thing matters: solving a big problem for which people are willing to pay for the solution.  There’s only one place to find that answer; the person with the problem.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.” – The Stranger from The Big Lebowski

I signed a license agreement for my core technology and it was a great moment.  The next day I found out I may not be able to source my key ingredient.  More delays and cost…

Starting and running a company is a daily grind.  There is always the next problem to solve.  Negotiations are frustrating and take way more time than they should but that’s the way it is.  Getting angry just raises the blood pressure.

It takes a constant push and pull.  9 times out of 10 there is a solution and if not then you have to pivot.

But before I decide to throw in the towel, I check with my key advisor team.  They keep me grounded and point out options I had not considered.

Fortunately, for entrepreneurs, being eaten by the bear is seldom fatal.