By Darin L. Hammond
Press releases are rife with successful start ups nearly every day. They are success stories frequently, some bright star going public, being acquired for millions, and triumphing unexpectedly. Social media for now are thriving, regardless of what some foresee in the future. Many predict doom, but others suggest that this is the new mode of communicating and doing business, a new paradigm.
Many of my readers are in the position of beginning anew, creating our own career paths in this social milieu. Often, we are starting over which usually connotes a failure of some kind. Life as a teacher wasn't paying enough, or engineering became dull and dry, or cooking just wasn't fulfilling. In my own situation, teaching English was fulfilling, but I felt it was just time for me to move on, try something new. I suggest that we abandon this mode of self concept--that we are starting over to try something else.
Success is a state of mind, and I ask myself what attitude do these impressive start ups in the news have that facilitated their triumph. Start up and start over are two unique paradigms for viewing ourselves and the world, and the latter does not sound like it leads to progress, fulfillment, and victory. Conceiving of ourselves as start ups works psychologically to think of our work as entrepreneurial, creative, ambitious, and bound for happiness.
Identifying the start up paradigm is the key first step toward adopting it.Tina Seelig compares starting a business to initiating an amorous relationship in her insightful blog for Psychology Today. As the Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, she knows a bit about the start up mentality for success. I will review some of her ideas in establishing what a healthy approach to a new business entails.
Steps to a start up state of mind:
1. Tap into your passion in life. No business or get rich quick scheme will be successful if you lack the emotional and mental engagement that will push you to do your best. Isn't this what failed you with your last endeavor, a lack of passion and drive? Start up on the right foot by doing something engaging, not necessarily easy. If writing a great novel is your dream, then go for it, but analyze your passion. Do you desire this for acclaim and wealth alone? If so, rethink it. Desire for power rarely results in real satisfaction.
2. Prepare to invest everything. The starting over state of mind approaches the new and risky with hesitation, holding back for fear of repeated failure. Starting up means committing yourself to success regardless of barriers that are bound to impede you. If you are willing and capable of investing everything for your passion, you are ready to start up. Risk wisely. But, risk is necessary and committing all you have to the project will move you closer to realizing your dream.
3. Ensure that those you bring into the business with you are equally committed. Most start ups need a community of workers who share the same passion. My feeling is that collaboration yields progress because of a shared vision with multiple brains contributing, creating a culture and climate of success in a business. If you look at Google, Apple, and Microsoft, all were built on such communities. Be the mastermind, the Steve Jobs, of your culture, founding the work team environment on passion, creativity,and freedom. All must share your passion and commitment. Surround yourself with start up minded associates.
4. Fight the temptation to believe that you can be fully engaged in more than one business. At least initially, success depends on a focus on the niche in the market that you will exploit. Spreading yourself out in multiple ventures diminishes your investment and passion in all enterprises. Focus on finding your niche and sticking to it at all costs. Google was first just a a little search engine that could thought it could. Google went beyond this after they achieved initial success, maintaining a solid stronghold on the niche market.
5. Change and adapt to conditions because successful businesses are never stagnant. The people who give up their hard earned cash to you will change and evolve over time because this is the human experience. Adapt to their wants and needs without giving up your passion and focus. Better yet, anticipate their future wants and needs. Part of Facebook's recent struggle stems from a stagnation and an inability to adapt. If you stand still, you are not starting up, but falling behind.
6. Be resilient and persistent, but not to the point of stupidity. Successful people rebound from hits they take, like a great boxer--Evander Holyfield, for example. You too can pick yourself up from failure, change things up, and press forward. However, we must know when to stop the fight. When boxers or their managers forget this, the result is brain damage or death. You must know when to restart rather than just rebound. When this is the case, be resilient, picking yourself up to fight another day. Start up again, but don't start over. Begin with your positive attitude and passion, having become wiser and stronger because of your set backs.
While this seems so simple, we know how complex it actually is. I have learned from experience, however, that the start up frame of mind will be far more likely to get you where you want to be than simply starting over. Believe yourself strong because you are. Notice the multiple meanings of "believe." Believe that you are strong, and believe to become strong. This a a zen state that successful companies embrace--the mind possesses the power to control and realize reality. Best of luck to you, but I know that luck is not what you need. Just get it done!