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Entrepreneurship's Foolish Beginnings
Entrepreneurship is a very specific collection of skills that are earned through the process of making mistakes, getting knocked down, and getting up again. When I first started out, I had a very simplistic view of what building a business meant: I believed that if I built something and told people about it, that I would make money.
It was with a dull, cold, sense of shock that I learned that it was usually not quite that simple. After nearly 20 years of entrepreneurship, it is interesting to reflect on the learning stages that we can find in people who take the same path. Like all things people do, this path carries reflections of the “Hero’s Journey,” where one is confronted with challenge, obstacles are overcome, and a new person emerges who is changed–but yet the same–and who eventually circles back around to help the ones who are in the same state he was in at the start.
We all start out here. There is something innocent and naive about first-time entrepreneurs. They have a bit of a “deer in the headlights” look about them. Behind the earnest enthusiasm is a desire to get into the game, and to make a difference. This enthusiasm knows no bounds — not even the bounds of reality– which makes the ideas and possibilities of the entrepreneurial game almost irresistible. One big factor that contributes to this enthusiasm is that first timers are almost never seeing the ‘big picture’ as accurately as they think, as the model of the market they create in their heads is usually too simplistic to work. Often we see that they have not had any really hard knocks (yet) and simply contemplate a “build-tell-sell” methodology. To them building a product, telling customers about it, and then counting the money is a real expectation. Since they can imagine the steps in the plan laid out in front of them simply, they cannot wait to get out there and start counting the money. Unlike later stages of entrepreneur, the fool does not recognize where he is along the continuum of experience, and for now simply having an idea feels like he has almost “made it.”
What usually happens is that he will spend months (or years) floating in this state. When (and if) they go out and actually build a project around their idea they will begin to realize that there is much more to it all than initially imagined. Those that build and move forward will soon find themselves at the next stage.
Early stage entrepreneurs:
Believe ideas are the entrepreneurs most valuable asset.
Are usually inflexible in their approach.
Believe that building an idea is enough.
Often believe that ‘Simple, Big Wins’ are the norm.
Cannot yet sense the true complexity of the market.
As we will see later in this series, some of these simplistic thought processes will actually serve the entrepreneur well, and may indeed be critical to his success.
This is the first article in a series that discusses the progression of entrepreneurs through each stage of their skill development. Our next article will discuss where how early stage entrepreneurs evolve and move to the next level in their careers.
By Kevin Ready
Before You are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
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