New entrepreneurs find themselves in a strange situation, in the sense that they often have to set out into unexplored territory and figure out an effective working structure, against the backdrop of an incredible vortex of information from all sources.
There are certainly thousands of books out there to tell you how best to run your business, which particular strategies you should use to market yourself, and so on.
Then, there’s an exponentially greater number of articles on the web, and in trade magazines, that will tackle the same questions from numerous different angles. Finally, you’ll find plenty of different professional mentors, productivity philosophies, and tools that will all promise to give you the edge over your competitors.
So, what’s the right path forward? Well, a lot of new entrepreneurs understandably conclude that they have to dedicate a huge chunk of time to research and reflection before they can embark on establishing their business ventures.
This can easily become something like the phenomenon of the “novelist” who has been “researching” their masterpiece for a decade or more, but hasn’t done much if any actual writing.
One of the top tips that frequently gets recommended by writers and experts who study the success secrets of some of the most high-flying business professionals out there, is to short-circuit this entire process, and to dive in headfirst and take action.
Jack Canfield, for example, while researching and writing about the most common and productive traits of successful business leaders has, in the past, strongly advocated an “action-first” ethos for all aspiring entrepreneurs.
There are many reasons why a bias for action may be a key to your success as an entrepreneur, even though taking action when you’re not “completely ready” might feel extremely daunting and even counterintuitive.
Here are a few reasons why the strategy may well be a winner.
Learning on the job will ensure that you learn the most useful skills, in the most time efficient manner
One of the first reasons why being action-oriented in business might be a key to success, is because of the fact alluded to at the beginning of this article, that there are essentially an unlimited number of skills you could potentially develop, and angles you could potentially explore, in any professional venture.
The thing is – only a few of those potential skills and avenues are likely to be particularly fruitful or relevant to your business, when the chips are down.
The “Pareto principle” – also known as the “80/20 rule” -- is a useful heuristic in business, and argues that 80% of the positive results you enjoy in your professional life are likely to come from about 20% of your most productive actions.
A key to success, then, is to give as much time and energy to those core “20%” actions as possible, while reducing the largely “wasted” time you might have spent on other things.
Diving into your business headfirst, and learning on the job, will quickly identify for you which skills you really need to learn, and which are most likely to be beneficial for you.
For example, you may find that learning how to set up a direct debit system for your customers and clients is very important, whereas alternative payment methods are relatively insignificant. This is the kind of thing you would only likely learn through direct experience.
It’s pretty much impossible to overstate the importance of time, energy, and resource management for any entrepreneur who wants to run a successful and thriving business.
So, any approach which forces you to focus on the stock fundamentals, and confront market realities as early as possible, is likely to be quite invaluable – especially compared to a more pensive approach that involves you getting lost in your own theories and hypotheses instead.
One of the most difficult and important things to achieve as an entrepreneur is momentum
The business world is extremely fast-paced, and companies increasingly have to be remarkably agile in order to catch up with their competitors, and ideally even overtake them when and where possible.
In fact, this is especially important for small to medium businesses, as their primary competitive advantage over the “big players” in their field will typically be the fact that they can manoeuvre more gracefully, and respond to market and niche demand on the fly.
As with just about any would-be productive project in life, one of the most difficult and important things to achieve as an entrepreneur is momentum. That is, the rapid-pace series of sprints that helps you to churn out a product or service, and optimise it, without breaking your stride.
Often, when momentum breaks down, a business loses a lot of its “vitality” and creativity, and can quickly find itself being bogged down, and struggling to stay in the race.
Importantly, however, momentum is not just important for the business per se, but also for you as the individual behind your particular entrepreneurial brand.
Because, we all have days when we don’t really feel like getting out of bed, and when the grind gets us down. But the less you allow yourself to ruminate, and the more you get into the habit of taking rapid action, the better your odds of being able to meet oncoming challenges in a consistent and effective manner, without losing heart or focus.
A trial and error process gives you data points to work with
Easily one of the most – if not the most – important benefits of an action-oriented approach to business, is the fact that it teaches you an incredible amount, in the shortest possible space of time.
A successful business is something like an ongoing evolutionary process – as in, you need to be able to test out many different strategies, approaches, and systems, quickly cull those that prove ineffective, identify those that seem fruitful, and iterate, optimise, and build upon those successes.
A trial and error process, in other words, gives you plenty of data points to work with – and that’s the kind of thing that you don’t obtain, in any particularly meaningful way, through conducting endless hypothetical research.
It’s worth remembering that many of the most successful business people in the world, and throughout history, have experienced a significant share of setbacks and outright failures, on the road to lasting success.
Richard Branson is a famous example, with more than a dozen failed businesses to his name. But you wouldn’t know it without being told, because his successes stand out so starkly.
The key is in treating your experiences in business – both your successes and your failures – as data points that can be utilised and built upon, to constantly improve your business, and increase your sense of the best ways to expand and develop.
That process is largely a matter of having a bias for action, and driving yourself forward energetically and consistently.
Some degree of failure is inevitable in your business – the busier you are, the more quickly you’ll be able to move on
The corollary to the fact that failure is inevitable in your business, and that your failures should be viewed as data points that can illuminate the road to success, is that you need to have systems, techniques, and a particular mindset in place, in order to take the sting out of your setbacks and failures.
One excellent way of ensuring that your failures don’t weigh you down any more than they have to, is to stay busy, and to perpetually be working on a new project, campaign, or fix.
The advice is often given to people who are generally depressed, or preoccupied with some negative emotion or thought, to “get out there” and stay busy. Something similar comes into play in quite a significant way in business.
If, for example, that big marketing campaign that you were working on failed spectacularly, getting started on the next one immediately will take you out of the headspace of being someone who “sucks at marketing.”
Instead, it will reorient your perspective so that you view yourself as someone who had one failed marketing campaign, and is now already correcting those mistakes.
Onwards and upwards.
Put in a more metaphorical sense; people who are racing down the highway are less likely to have the time, or motivation, to obsessively fixate on their rearview mirror. The road ahead requires most of their attention instead.
Keep in mind, that what is true here with regards to particular elements within a business also applies to different iterations of a businesses. That is, as an entrepreneur, it’s quite possible and even likely that an entire business of yours will fail.
This can be soul-crushing, but it’s much less likely to be soul crushing if you’ve already started up your next business before the dust has cleared from the previous one.