05.17.19

How to go from good to great: start by removing these distractions​

KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE NIIC


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Time is your enemy, truths all people, including business builders, must acknowledge if they want to achieve something big. Dr. Brene Brown, author, speaker, professor, stated “Time is precious and an unrenewable resource.” Sometimes hitting goals calls for making a tough decision in removing obstacles and barriers (both tangible and intangible) that no longer serve us. While it might be true that entrepreneurship survives on mythology, it is time to insert a heavy dose of reality into the mix. If we don’t, our startup rate as a nation will continue to decline. We will continue to produce disposable companies. Neither of these two trends will positively impact our standard of living for the next generation.

Here are a few common distractions that can get in the way of our success.

1) Toxic people: We lack constructive discourse in the U.S. today. People will call you a “glass half-empty” rather than “glass half-full” when you give experienced, honest and authentic responses to someone’s idea. We are all in love with our ideas, but there is a pervasive “fake it to you make it” mentality that makes transparency and constructive feedback often not possible. Fierce and crucial conversations are avoided, and many play the victim card, and expect they are entitled to something because they perceive they deserve it, but not because they earned it or delivered value.

Today, nobody wants to hear “no”. The expectation is if you have an idea everyone should just tell you what you want to hear or worse give you a Brinks truck of money (for free). This lack of accountability in our culture is driving more noise in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, more false starts, more avoidable and premature startup failures (based on trying to prove lousy or defective business models, bad or dumb ideas or professionalizing business plan competition winners who go from contest to contest winning but never produce a viable business venture). The reality is we are fostering and perpetuating a culture of startup negligence by not providing honesty and transparency because the reality is there are many great ideas, but only a few become blockbuster success and even fewer are investable. A great idea might give you admissions to the park. but it doesn’t guarantee you are going to ride the attractions. Given business builders are putting their money, reputation on the line, they need to be surrounded with real and authentic advice not sugar-coated, pie in the sky accolades to make them feel better. Recalling Dr. Brown observes and reminds us that “brave leaders are never silent about the hard things.” We need more brave leaders.

2) Home office: While some can thrive working from home, many fall prey to the distractions. After all, there will always be housework to do. If the budget allows for it, consider a coworking space. You may find you’re more focused away from home and as a bonus, you’ll likely make some connections that could advance your business. In an effort to conserve cash, we avoid surrounding ourselves with the tools needed for startup success – access to capital, talent, the right workspaces and networks. These tools don’t come from Starbucks or your garage where you often experience emptiness, isolation and loneliness. They come from working with entrepreneurial support organizations and surrounding yourself with people like you.

Coworking spaces at The NIIC are different from other places: our professional FlexSpace options give you credibility – a place of substance for your business and you, flexibility – a range of programming options to meet you where you are and more importantly help you get where YOU want to go, and community – our campus is bustling with motivated entrepreneurs, business builders and small business owners–eager to connect, engage, and bounce ideas off of like-minded entrepreneurs.

3) Striving for perfection: You never achieve perfection, as it’s a moving target. Likewise, there is never a “right” time to start a business. Successful entrepreneurs start companies and projects, knowing that they are works in progress. They embrace “ready, fire, aim” mentality and a fast test environment (to experiment, iterate, learn and pivot quickly and cost-effectively), because they know any effort is better than waiting around and potentially missing out because a competitor acted more swiftly. Don’t get locked in analysis paralysis, which usually leads to inaction. Fail forward, faster, cheaper and better.

4) Lack of relational boundaries: Just as an offsite office can serve as a manifestation of setting a physical limitation, business builders must establish and maintain boundaries with relationships. You know that friend who always needs a favor? Maybe it’s time to tell him or her no. That volunteer assignment at your church or synagogue or pet cause? Can you scale back? If these “extras” are getting in the way of your success at work, it may be time to rethink your commitments because your startup needs focus, commitment, and all of your energy. Remember, my first line of this blog, time is your enemy. Today, relational boundaries often do get in the way because we are intentionally blurring the lines of accountability and avoiding reality (Jim Collins famously called it confronting the brutal realities, and how doing so is an attribute of Good to Great companies).

5) Self-love (aka ego): Thinking you have created the best thing since sliced bread will only turn people off. There are many bright and capable people in the world, and they are all trying to get there first—just like you. Letting your ego take the reins will result in disaster. Thinking you know more than subject-matter experts will soon cost you in time, money and people. It’s OK to admit your own shortcomings and seek help when it’s outside of your domain expertise or comfort zone.

Building a successful and sustainable business can be a challenging, rewarding, and exciting way to live your life, to give back to your community and to create something cool. Avoid the distractions that derail so many business builders so you can fully self-actualize your potential and your probable success.

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