Lessons for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Part 1: “Purpose = Power”

by David Eckoff · 0 comments

Boxer Everyone knows someone who has come up with a good idea and who has not acted upon that idea. Or started working on the idea… and not finished.

Perhaps you can even personally relate to that.

People come up with good ideas for new businesses all of the time. Unfortunately, many of those ideas are never acted upon and most are never brought to market.

This is tragic, because it’s not a matter or whether or not we can. In 2010, an average person of average intelligence can come up with a good idea and bring it to market – thanks to a democratization of the tools of production, distribution and sales.

But not everyone will.

Why do you suppose that is?

Lessons Learned

I’ve made it my focus over the past 20 years to turn ideas into products and businesses. Most recently launching Spitter.com, and working with other companies such as Rivals.com, RealNetworks, Turner Broadcasting, Ustream.tv, and Zazzle to bring their revolutionary ideas to market.

What have I learned that can shed some light on what makes the difference in going to market with your ideas?

There will be obstacles along the way. Distractions. Problems. Frustrations. Doubters. Skeptics.

The single greatest way to overcome those obstacles is something often overlooked in execution: having a big enough reason why.

Big Enough Reasons Why

Chris Klaus, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Kaneva explains why this is so important.

“Part of the secret sauce of a successful startup, is finding a vision and mission that you and your team are passionate about,” Klaus told me. “Every startup has incredible challenges. The teams that are passionate about their mission will be determined to learn from their mistakes. They have the desire and energy to overcome these obstacles.”

Reasons why are the fuel that will get you to follow through.

Big enough reasons why can help get you through anything.

Pamela Slim, business coach and author of ‘Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Employee to Thriving Entrepreneur’ explains:

“Knowing why you are starting your business — how you will impact others, or even change the world — will fuel you through the inevitable periods of struggle as a first-stage entrepreneur,” Slim told me. “Your customers will feel the meaning and purpose behind your business, and your marketing position will be much stronger.”

What Do Most People Do Instead?

As entrepreneurs, we love our ideas – often to the point of irrational exuberance. And being excited about our ideas, we often focus so much on “what” we are doing (the product) that we don’t define – or we lose sight of – “why” we are doing it.

And without big enough reasons why to motivate us through the hard times, we’re more likely to get stalled – when we really need to be putting in the extra effort.

“The difference between success and failure might be the difference between calling it a day at 7 pm or midnight,” David Payne, founder of Atlanta-based Scoutmob, told me. “Only a strong mission will cause you to feel good about working those hard extra few hours.”

A Powerful Approach to Getting Important Things Done

Start by answering these time-tested four questions:

1) What is your desired outcome?

Most people answer: “I don’t know”. Perhaps that explains why so many ideas are never acted on.

Think about what your desired outcome is, what do you really want? And write it down. Be as specific as possible. Set a specific date for that outcome.

2) Why do you want that outcome?

The power is in why. When you get enough reasons you can do just about anything, you can find the way.

A big enough reason why is where you get your drive to follow through.

A useful way to frame this question is to think about why you must do it (as opposed to why you should do it). Think about what matters most to you, what do you most value?

For example: so you want to make a million dollars? Why? Dig deeper. Ultimately, what do you value most?

3) How am I going to make it happen?

Think about – and write down – the most important actions you need to take to accomplish your desired outcome.

Bonus: take it one step further. You are more than your to-do list. Think about and write down the answer to these questions. What kind of person would you need to become to accomplish your outcome? What skills would you need? And become that kind of person. Develop those skills.

4) How will I know when I’m getting my outcome?

Sometimes we can be winning – and feel like we’re losing – because we’re not keeping score. How will you measure it? How will you know?

Not All Reasons Why Are Created Equal

I’m not here to tell you which reasons are the right reasons for you. The “big enough reason why” is unique to each person. (Although some reasons that are often cited by aspiring entrepreneurs are misguided at best – and really bad reasons at worst – and I’ve written about them here.)

But the reasons that drive you could make the difference between success and failure.

What Have You Learned?

So, what do you want to remember from this article?

Before you get started with your to-do list, be clear about what it is you really want and why you want it.

You’ve got to be clear about your outcome and your purpose. The “why” is what will get you to follow through on your decision.

And as you’re bringing your idea to market, remember that Purpose = Power.

What do YOU think? What gives you your drive to follow through and launch new businesses and products? I’d love to hear about your experiences, in the comment section here.

Coming Next Week: Lessons for Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Part 2: “Goals Alone Are Not Enough”

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