Here’s the Best Shortcut to a Successful Business

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In my book Launch!, I encourage entrepreneurs to go from idea to market in ninety days.

This is fast, but it makes a lot of sense. It means you’ll start bringing in money as early as possible. And a quick launch puts you ahead of the competition. This is especially important when you’re capitalizing on changes in the marketplace or new technology.

Back in the mid-nineties, I was working with an Internet start-up in Silicon Valley. One the day of launch, we had one competitor. Just two months after launch, we had seventeen competitors. A month later this figure had risen to 100. Our early start was a huge competitive advantage.

Knowing this, you’re probably wondering: What’s the shortcut to launching a business quickly?

In my years of experience, I’ve found that only one shortcut ultimately leads to success.

The best shortcut is to take a long-term view.

In other words, even if you want to launch your business at speed, there are no shortcuts. There’s no way around putting in the hours. Any entrepreneur who’s started a business can tell you plenty of battle stories about how hard they worked in the early days. There’s a good reason for that: building a business is hard work.

There’s no way around any of the following. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to talk of a way “around” them. These aren’t obstacles blocking your way, but the path to a successful business.

  • Do your homework. That means talking to people in the industry to find as much as you can about market conditions. Every industry is different, so there’s no way of skipping this step.
  • Step back when the feedback tells you to. You may believe you have the perfect idea. But if your research shows a less than ideal marketplace, or if there’s a high failure rate of startups in the sector, there’s a reason for that. Don’t kid yourself into believing your business will be different from all the rest. Learn everything you can about what went wrong for others, then decide whether the opportunity is still for you.
  • Seek counsel. Tap your business friends for wise counsel on what you’re planning. Asking for counsel is very different to asking for opinions. Anyone can have an opinion. Only those who have personal experience of an industry can give counsel.
  • Consider your timing. Entrepreneurs succeed because they have the right idea in the right place at the right time. Once you’ve got a great idea, you need to check market conditions are ripe for you to implement it.
  • Adopt a beginner’s mind. Beginner’s mind is a zen concept that’s about dropping all your assumptions. By letting go of what you think you know, you’ll ask better questions, get better answers, and receive more insight into what’s possible and what’s not.

So, remember, the best shortcut to a successful business is to repeat the mantra: There are no shortcuts.

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