When you’re inspired with a genius idea for a new business, you can make a couple of very big mistakes:
1. Don’t tell anybody about it because you’re afraid they will laugh at you, or steal your idea.
2. Tell the wrong people.
It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: you cannot create an amazing business all by yourself. Even if you’re the sole owner and operator, you need other people to give you feedback. To help shape your ideas. To give you support and suggestions for improvement. You’ll need this throughout the entire business-building process, and it’s critical that you get it as soon as you can while you’re still in the brainstorming stage. However, you want to make sure you don’t tell the wrong people–those who aren’t supportive, those who won’t understand what you’re doing, those who wouldn’t ever pay for the kind of product or service you’re planning on offering, and those who think starting a business in this economy is crazy. If you’re a sensitive person, talking to someone who is overly critical can absolutely kill your business before you even get it started.
In the third episode of The New Entrepreneur, I explore this topic:
Action Steps For Success
Find People who have done it Before
Some of the best people to talk to are those who have done it ahead of you. Why reinvent the wheel when someone’s already been there, done that and returned the t-shirt? They may help guide you away from potentially disastrous pitfalls and save you time and money.
Don’t stop at friends and family
It’s understandable to start with your friends and family because they are the people we see and talk to most. However, don’t stop there.
If you’re not sure where to go when you’ve exhausted your inner circle, look for local community organizations that exist to help new entrepreneurs build businesses. Every town and city has great interest in attracting new businesses, so there are usually government-funded business development offices that offer you free or inexpensive programs, coaching and other resources. When you are feeling like you’re the only one facing your particular set of challenges, contacting a community organization may offer the exact answers and support you need. Chances are they’ve seen if before and can help guide you in the right direction.
Find a great Mentor
A mentor can help you identify what the next logical step is for your business. Perhaps they are an individual you look up to, or someone who is an expert in business, or perhaps someone from the industry you’re interested in building your business in. A mentorship relationship can be as formal or informal as you’d like it to be. You could plan on meeting up every month for lunch or it could be someone from whom you seek advice only once or twice. Either way, finding great mentors will truly make a difference to your business success.
Don’t be afraid to approach someone and ask if they would be willing to mentor you. Remember that being a mentor can be mutually beneficial. It gives that person an opportunity to give back as well as build their inner circle.
Contact a potential mentor and ask him or her for a few minutes of their time. You never know, the only thing standing between you and the success you dream of could be the cost of a cup coffee.
The more support you have–from friends and family, community resources and mentors, the more likely you are to succeed in a really big way. Reaching out and asking for help and guidance is never a sign of weakness. On the contrary: it’s the sign of a brilliant entrepreneur, who knows successful businesses are never built alone.