Throughout the duration of the pandemic the number of individuals registering a business in the United States increased dramatically, with 3.2 million individuals registering a business in 2020, up by more than half a million from 2019. Although many economists believe this was fueled solely by the pandemic, a number of factors are responsible. A growing dissatisfaction with worker’s rights, the rising disparity between living expenses and wages, and a shifting culture that champions grassroots businesses and owner-operated enterprises are among the factors driving people away from the traditional workforce and into the world of building their own businesses.
While this shift can be seen as a positive, with many individuals taking their future into their own hands, and at the same time presenting the potential for resurgence of unique culture as the pool of large corporations that dominate both service and FMCG industries becomes diluted, a number of challenges exist. Namely, with such a sharp uptick in the number of entrepreneurs attempting to build something for themselves, how can one hope to stand out and ultimately find long-term success?
Although there is a myriad of resources available around entrepreneurship, the most valuable guidance comes from those who have first-hand experience. To help this growing wave of fresh-faced entrepreneurs, I’ve pulled from my own experiences to provide advice around strategy, risk-assessment, execution, influencing others, trusting your gut, and working with challenges instead of letting them drag your business down through negative thinking. Read on to learn more.
Be Patient with Strategy and Impatient with Execution
There are only so many hours in a day, and unfortunately that means there’s a limited amount of time to get things done. Competing priorities when building your own business make this challenge more cogent, and for many, making the decision around which tasks are priorities, which can be rushed and those that require more time is not always simple.
Luckily, the theory behind mastering this skill is quite simple. To accurately assess which decisions and tasks require more time, and which can be rushed through, all that is needed is simple reflection. Ask yourself “Is this decision irreversible or will it have a large impact on the future of my business?” If it will, slow down and take your time. If the decision is low stakes, this is a task which can be rushed through and revisited later if necessary.
Always Have a One-Minute Overview of your Business Ready
When it comes to securing an investor or finalizing a partnership with another business, being prepared for the unexpected is vital. More often than not, chance opportunities that appear out of the blue can mean the difference between long-term success and struggle. As such, it’s vital to have a short overview, also known as an ‘elevator pitch’, prepared. This elevator pitch should include a short recap of who you are, your business, the problem it solves, it’s potential, and how the investment or partnership could be mutually beneficial in the long-term. It’s important to keep in mind that this pitch is designed to open up a conversation, so the nitty gritty details of what you’ve worked on, or how exactly the business or product works, will generally be requested by the other party if they’re interested.
Influence with a Combination of Ethos, Pathos and Logos Based on the Audience
Influencing others as a practice is equal parts of science and art. Some people are easily influenced by logos, which are numbers and data; others prefer pathos, an emotional argument that tugs the heartstrings. Some are more convinced by ethos, a desire to do the most ethical, “right” thing. When trying to showcase your business, or in any outreach that involves the public, it’s important to assess which will resonate more with the individuals you are attempting to influence and tailor your interactions based on that assessment.
Listen to the Soft Voice of your Intuition
Logic and data are loud and decisive. They are easy to defend, and they provide people with a sense of safety when it comes to making a point or arguing a counterpoint. Intuition, on the other hand, speaks softly. It whispers through sensation and emotion based on perception and past experience. Because of this, intuition often provides guidance based on unconscious logic before we have consciously rationalized it. As such, it’s imperative to slow down and listen to this soft voice at every stage of building your business. While it may not always be correct, it allows for time to reflect on points you may have not previously considered and make decisions in line with what feels right for you and your businesses’ future.
Move from ‘No, but…’ to ‘Yes, and…’
We’ve all experienced situations with contrarians, where no matter the proposition they always have a “No, but…” to add. Unfortunately, this isn’t a specific personality trait and at one time or another all of us have been guilty of doing this. If you find yourself falling into that habit, or are surrounded by partners or investors who do this, propose switching the “no, but…” to “yes, and…”
“Yes, and…” is a foundational construct of collaborative communication and improvisational comedy. It creates an atmosphere of innovation where all involved parties are free to share their ideas, no matter how obscure they might seem. This type of atmosphere builds business resilience, as the culture shifts from one that catastrophizes challenges into one that draws on proactivity and collaboration to solve problems before the negative impacts are felt.
Although the arena of entrepreneurship is becoming more saturated and thus more competitive, it shouldn’t be a deterrent. By putting in extra effort, educating yourself around strategy, execution, problem solving, communication, and of course, listening to your intuition, even those with minimal experience can find progression, growth, and success in the long-term.