Spoiler Alert: There’s No Secret to Success
How do you eat an Oreo? Do you jump right in and take a bite? Conquer the cookie, then the cream, or vice versa? Do you do something else entirely? Or do you abstain from eating the popular cookies altogether?
See where we’re going with this? There are infinite ways to eat an Oreo, just like there are infinite ways to be successful. No surprises here--there’s no one secret to accomplishment in your business. If there was just “one simple trick” to having it all, then you’d see a lot more happy founders walking around.
But, many successful founders do share common traits. There might be no right way to eat an Oreo, but there are a few secrets that’ll bring you closer to achievement with your venture.
Have a “Good Enough” Idea, and Then Some
We’d venture to guess most people have had a brilliant business idea at least once in their lives. Problem is, they either decided not to pursue it or spent so much time perfecting it, that they burned out before taking it to market.
Your business idea only has to be good enough for you to get started. From there:
Listen and observe. Your idea could be brilliant, but if you don’t listen for feedback, you’ll never know. Start the process of customer discovery. Listen to what people have to say about your idea. It’s hard to learn when you’re the only one talking and listening to others can take your good idea and help transform it into something great.
Be curious, ask questions. Don’t be satisfied with simple one-word responses when you’re out doing discovery. Dig deeper, ask questions, be curious, even if it takes you off-topic. The more you learn in the beginning, the more solid of a foundation you’ll have.
Problem solve. Once you learn more about customer’s pain points, you can directly solve the problems they’re facing. Your good idea might need a tweak or two to solve a major issue someone faces.
Make connections. Kindness and curiosity will go a long way during customer discovery. Don’t lose touch with people after you customarily “pick their brain” over a cup of coffee. Stay in touch, keep asking questions, and don’t be surprised when a connection can help you big time further down the line.
Back it Up With Passion
Being passionate about your idea will push you to follow through, even when things aren’t perfect. If you’re tackling a problem you care about or helping an industry you love, you’re going to keep pursuing the idea.
Passion won’t guarantee a slam dunk, but it’s a big contributor. Research shows that entrepreneurial passion plays a key role in the likelihood that your business will be a success. If you can’t imagine doing anything else right now, even if things are perfect, then you’ve probably got passion on your side.
So what does passion look like? Passion comes from the Latin word for suffering, and while passion doesn’t have to mean pain, it might mean the sacrifice of time, money, and effort, with little payoff in the beginning. For some, passion might look like leaving a high-paying job to start a small venture, or waking up two hours earlier each day for your side hustle. It means willing to take on the tough stuff, with no guarantee of a payoff.
Get Good, Then Get Better
Transforming your crazy idea into a business is exhausting, but you’ll need to keep improving. Just like your great idea, you’ll go through iterations and improvements. Never doubt that you can learn and practice more--you never want to be the smartest person in the room. Continuous learning will keep you on your toes.
And here’s a secret no entrepreneur is excited to share--you’re going to make mistakes as you grow your business. Don’t shamefully bury these experiences. Lessons from the mistakes you make could be more impactful than some of your biggest wins.
The moment you move towards self-improvement, you might start to feel nagging or pulling in the back of your mind. That’s your ego, trying to stay safe and closed off to vulnerability. It might feel good in the short term to remain the same and stay in your comfort zone, but in the long run, it can cut you off from true growth.
Passion and follow-through are an unbeatable combination when it comes to success. Keep following through, even when calls are screened or emails go unanswered. We won’t lie, even the most successful people have faced lots of rejection in their lifetimes. Persist, keep working, hard, even when pressure, criticism, and the occasional asshole wants to shut you down. After all, the worst that can happen is you ask and they say no.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of what a founder needs for their venture to take off. But, keeping these not-so-secret secrets in mind as you grow your business can help you succeed.