Having previously run both a domestic electrical contracting business and high-end Home Automation installer, I have both failed and succeeded in different fields. I have co-founded and run two companies, Barefoot Funnels (Designing and implementing automated business systems and processes.) and 48 Hour Launch (Providing fully integrated and automated marketing solutions.)
1 – Failure is very seldom catastrophic
When faced with failure, be it for the business as a whole, or simply failure of a single project or product, we tend to focus on “the disaster”, rather than “the opportunity”. Just as with the changing landscape of the world we live in and do business in, everything that might seem like failure at the time, holds the seeds of something much bigger and better than you ever imagined. Don’t focus on the fact that something is failing or has failed, step back, reflect, and mine the opportunity for all it holds.
2 – You can’t do it alone
As entrepreneurs, it is in our nature to be in charge, make decisions and run our own ship. But every captain of every ship knows that if he spends too much time down in the engine room trying to fix something, “because he knows the ship better than anyone else”, the ship will be blown off course and possibly hit the rocks. Trust the people who are in this with you, and trust their skills. More than that, make sure you surround yourself with people smarter than you. Don’t let your ego push you into always being the one in the room with the most knowledge.
3 – Find a mentor
I have been fortunate enough to have had Nigel Botterill as a mentor for the last 4 years. It is invaluable to have someone in your corner, who not only has been there and done it, who is further along this entrepreneurial journey than you, but someone who has no emotional connection to the business and can give you both strategic and creative advice, hold your feet to the fire, or simply give you the kick up the backside we all sometimes need.
4 – Take Action – It opens up opportunities
Small hinges swing big doors! The greatest opportunities I have had, have appeared very quickly, once I took real action on something I have been thinking about for a while. (One such example was in my head for over a year, and once I took action, over one weekend, it gave birth to 48 Hour Launch, www.pamperanddelight.co.uk, 2 joint ventures and an entirely new approach to business.
Take action today, even if it is simply calling someone and discussing your idea, but put a stake in the ground and START!
5 – Carry your own skin
It is all your fault, no matter what happens. You have to take full responsibility for every outcome. The great thing is, when it all goes well you can look in the mirror and say “I did that, I made that happen.” However, when something does not go to plan, or fail completely, you can’t then point the finger. This is your business and everything that happens here is linked in some way to a decision you made. You are fully responsible.
6 – Success leaves clues
No need to re-invent the wheel. You are not the first person to set up in business, and no matter how many times you tell yourself that “nobody has ever done this or done it this way”, there are people around everywhere who have succeeded in markets like yours, with products and services like yours. Learn from as many people as possible. Learn from their successes as much as their mistakes.
7 – This may not be the right business for you to run
Fail fast and often. This is a hard maxim to first get your head around, but there is a lot to be learnt from iterative software design. The latest approach in silicon valley is to get version one out as soon as possible, and get to version 3 as quickly as you can. You will not be well served by trying to make it “perfect” before you show it to someone.
By the same token, in order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to remove yourself emotionally from the business and have an objective eye. If it is not working, and has not been working for some time, move on. You are very unlikely to make a great success of your first effort. Get to version 3 as fast as you can!
Author: Pieter K de Villiers
Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Barefoot Digital and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.