We could probably fill a black hole with all of the business ideas and dreams that never happen. There will be far more ideas though up this year than ever make it to getting to one customer. Ideas and dreams are cheap. Few are truly genius and original. That’s okay. What makes the most consistently successful entrepreneurs and businesses are not ideas.
The one thing that most differentiates the successful from the rest isn’t even money, connections, having an MBA, what school they went to or raw talent. It’s far simpler and more accessible. It’s also far rarer. It’s taking action.
I haven’t interviewed any dreamers on the DealMakers podcast. I’ve covered visionaries. I’ve covered angel investors, 22-year-olds with billion-dollar businesses, and corporate salaried workers turned CEOs of fast-growing startups. The difference is that they took action. They decided to go for it. Even if they didn’t know all the steps or how they were going to pull it all together. As for all the people who didn’t take action, I don’t know who they are. You’ve probably never heard of them either.
Still, I can empathize with the fact that it can take guts to take action. Especially if that means leaving a cozy well-paid job at an enviable company. So, how do you step out and make the leap from dream to reality?
Putting Things in Proper Perspective
The first step to taking real action is putting things in their proper perspective. Look at the big picture and realize what the real pain and risk of not taking action on your idea will be.
Yes, you may have bills due next month. Everyone does. You may have kids to feed, a wife to keep happy, and family and friends you think you are crazy. Every entrepreneur has dealt with the same things. They took action anyway.
We could spend hours debating the severe financial risks of abdicating your financial future to an employer. Though choosing to make the leap or not is about a lot more than money. There are plenty of hyper-successful people and even billionaires who choose to live very frugally. Even living in trailers or out of hotels, taking Ubers instead of paying cash for a Bugatti collection.
More importantly, if you don’t step up, you are going to have to live with that regret for the rest of your life. You may spend decades or your last moments languishing in the fact that your life was wasted. You tried to hide in what wasn’t a secure place and gave up helping and solving problems for thousands or millions or billions of others. Maybe even worse, if you have kids or others you care about and want to inspire, you’ll have to live with setting the opposite example of what you hope they’ll do with their lives. Painful, but true.
How do you start taking action?
1) Tell People
Telling others what you will do creates accountability. It forces you to follow through with your decision to take action. Set some goals and timelines and let others know who will ask you and hold you accountable. If you need to, give your boss two weeks or four weeks notice.
2) Embrace Fear
Successful people and heroes of all types are not those who do not experience fear. They are the ones who act in spite of it.
Accept negative thoughts and self-doubt. It’s normal. Anticipate it. The only difference in achieving something is pushing through and stomping over those fears on the way to success.
3) Embrace Failure
You are going to make mistakes. You are going to find you can do things better in the future. Just get comfortable with making the best decisions you can at the moment. Try to make more good decisions than bad. Be fast at making decisions to correct your mistakes.
4) Embrace the Unknown
No one knows it all before launching their own venture. Those that think they do are in for a big awakening. This journey is about figuring things out as you go. If you can embrace that you can make it as an entrepreneur.
5) Get Excited about the Outcome
Don’t just use fear alone to propel you out of your current situation. Allow your vision to pull you. Get pumped about the results you are going to achieve. Go give yourself a taste of it and get motivated.
6) Choose Something You’ll Never Quit
If you choose something you’ll never quit or regret trying, even if it doesn’t make you a billionaire, you have nothing to lose. That may be a product you really want to exist for your kids. Solving great inefficiencies in services you’ll personally benefit from. Or just helping others. You really can’t lose if you pursue and take action on these things.
7) Speed to Market
Speed to market may not be as critical a factor as some fear, but it can play a big role in fundraising, cost of customer acquisition, and ease of scaling. If you’re already kicking yourself that you took too long to take action, don’t give up yet. Check out this pitch deck that landed an Uber competitor $400M, and the story of how Via has gone international with its dynamic shared ride service despite competitors like Lyft now filing for IPOs.