1. Ignore your own excuses.
You may have a dozen (or a hundred) reasons that you can’t do whatever it is you want to do—and a lot of them are grounded in your own fear, not in reality. Practice ignoring the fear-based doubts to avoid being held back from your dreams.
2. Learn constantly.
Classes might help you, but if you don’t have the time or money for that kind of commitment, take advantage of the many other resources that are available: read books, follow blogs, listen to podcasts, and find a mentor. All of these things are easy and accessible ways for learning and developing the skills you need to be successful.
3. Have the difficult conversations.
Even if they’re easy to avoid, getting them over with will only benefit you. What popped into your mind when you read the phrase “difficult conversation”? Start there. Getting it over with will help de-stress you and will free up your mind to focus on things that will further your business. Ignoring problems will only allow them to fester and damage your business later on down the road.
4. Don’t over-indulge your perfectionist tendencies.
For unimportant tasks, give yourself a time limit—five minutes or maybe just two—and once your time is up, stop thinking about it. Send that email, put the calendar down, and move on with your day. Don’t let the small things drain energy away from the bigger things. Let the important things have the attention they deserve.
5. Don’t be scared to share your ideas.
Even the best ones can’t grow without attention. You need (constructive) feedback to help perfect your idea to polish out the details. Your family and friends can make excellent early focus groups (if they don’t just tell you what you want to hear). They can help you refine your idea. You may see vast improvements that you would otherwise have missed, making it easier to be successful later.
6. On the same note, don’t just seek advice from people who just tell you what you want to hear.
Seek professional advice early so you can implement it into your design. Ask for help from an engineer or a designer. They understand the process, and you can get some invaluable advice from them.
7. Develop a thirty-second “elevator pitch.”
If it takes longer than that, you might not have a clear enough vision or are too unfocused. If it only takes a couple of seconds, you may not peak the other person’s interest…and that’s bad when the other person is a potential investor. Make sure you have a clear, concise, and intriguing elevator pitch. And don’t forget to practice it. In front of a mirror if you need to.
8. Remember that you’re a startup.
Adjust your budget and your expectations to match. Although you may earn a huge amount of money from investors—you might not. Your Kickstarter might take off, but it might not either. Scale back and simplify your idea until it’s easy enough to manage as an early-stage venture. As time passes, you can grow to your original idea. Demonstrate your worth first and investors will follow.
9. Don’t be afraid of changing your plans as you go.
You’re learning more, getting more advice and feedback, and the market is changing too—don’t be so in love with your first idea or plan that you refuse to change. If you don’t adapt, your business will die—and then where will you be? If you find that something isn’t working, change it. Don’t hesitate.
10. Know when you should quit.
I know this last point is a bit of a downer, but it’s something you should be willing to think about. At what point is it no longer feasible for you to pursue your ideas? Will you pursue it for twenty years despite all obstacles and signs that you should stop? Even though you might not want to, take a moment to think about where you will draw the line so you don’t waste precious time and money.
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