Having an idea for a product or startup is an exciting prospect for many young entrepreneurs. They believe that with an idea that is cool enough, or novel enough they can achieve their dream of becoming successful and never having to work for someone else.
But, if an abstract vision of success is your goal, having an idea isn’t enough. Having an excellent idea isn’t even enough. Being successful and bringing your venture to life is about doing the work and showing up.
What do we mean by showing up?
We mean putting in the effort, being engaged and interested, making an appearance (or a hundred), and following through.
There are a lot of reasons why this may be difficult to you, or why you haven’t even been thinking about it to begin with. .
Maybe you don’t know where to look to find opportunities. Or you’re an introvert and the prospect of going out and talking to people (particularly powerful or influential people) makes you nervous. Maybe you don’t have confidence in what you are going to say or email to them so you keep putting it off until the timing is gone. Or maybe you’re too preoccupied with other aspects of your life or venture to even think about it.
None of these are uncommon excuses, but all of them are holding you back from a diverse and invaluable set of resources as you continue on your entrepreneurial journey. Here are some lessons for helping you reach them.
Lesson 1: Networking (Yes, we know)
As you’ve probably heard before, the most obvious of these is networking. Now, you may hate networking. A lot of people do –– it’s difficult, time consuming, and can be frustrating if you don’t meet someone helpful immediately. But the chances of meeting someone who can help you with your venture, who can serve as a mentor, or fund your company as an investor or a customer exponentially increase when you make that effort.
You can’t expect to just sequester yourself away in your room and have success rain down from you on the heavens. Even if you’ve heard a miraculous story in which that is the case, know that said story is entirely the exception and not the rule.
When you talk to more and more people about your venture, not only will you receive experience in articulating your idea (which should not be underestimated), but you will also receive valuable feedback and make contacts that could be instrumental for you down the road.
Lesson 2: Don’t Waste The Easy Opportunities
When you do meet that person who you made a connection with and who you think can help you take your venture to the next step, get –– and save –– their contact information. And use it ASAP.
You’d be shocked at the amount of golden opportunities that slip through people’s fingers just because they are bad at following up.
Write the email, add them on LinkedIn, and continue your relationship. You’ll be surprised at how often people will be willing to help you if you just open that door.
Lesson 3: Develop a Passion For Learning as Much as Possible
The more events, talks, and programs you go to, the you will learn and the more opportunities will emerge for you. So be on the lookout.
Look for events in your area, join webinars and email lists, and if there is nothing interesting going on where you live. Try to bring something there yourself or go out and talk to local business owners about their own experiences.
Read up on stories from entrepreneurs –– of successes and of failures.
And learn everything you can about the market that you are trying to enter. That includes doing customer discovery and being present and attentive when potential customers talk about their pains and how it relates to your solution.
Any one of these lessons could change your venture and change your life.
So get out and start showing up. It’s part of what it takes for you to be an entrepreneur, and it’s in your grasp. You already have the skills to start doing it, all you need to do now is take action.