Any athlete out there understands the fine art of ‘finishing’. You can run the best mile splits of your life, but if you forget to cross the finish line, you won’t win the race. You can end the first half up 100 points, but if you don’t come back after half time, the game will be forfeited. No matter what you do in life, if you don’t finish, your hard work along the way will never truly be appreciated.
Unfortunately, I see many entrepreneurs who, for one reason or another, become stuck halfway through the race. Instead of crossing the finish line, they end up wandering perpetually around mile 15 of their business development marathon. All entrepreneurs have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Like athletes, they must understand where they are vulnerable and put mechanisms in place to prevent those weak points from throwing their business success over a cliff.
Although all entrepreneurs are slightly different, I’ve found there are three main camps that have the hardest time turning their ideas into viable businesses:
The Slut: This person has jumped into bed with more ideas than a Las Vegas hooker. They simply love ideas, and each month they become captivated with a new AMAZING one. Each new idea is ‘The One’ and will be described as the most ‘incredible’, ‘ground breaking’, ‘hot’ and ‘exciting’ idea to ever have been conceived. All their energy, attention and money will be poured into this new idea until sadly one day………….wait for it……………they find a new, hotter idea, and abandon all of their previous hard work to pursue this latest, even more AMAZING, concept.
The Good? They really do have some great thoughts, plus they are so passionate they can easily pull others in to help move things forward and create even more excitement.
The Bad? They will never take things far enough to turn an idea into a business. Perhaps it’s a fear that if they really evaluate the feasibility of their concept, they’ll end up finding out something they don’t want to know. Sluts also tend to dislike dealing with logistics and some of the other less ethereal aspects of creating a business. Continuing to have idea after idea allows them to sit in a bit of a safe zone. They don’t ever accomplish anything, but they don’t experience the pain of failing either.
The Politician: Full of grandiose talk, but not much substance, they have one clear concept they want to push forward, and they’ll talk to anyone who will listen, trying to get them on board. They may end up with a great network to assist in the creation of a business, but not enough actual meat to their concept to do much with it. They either have a lack of knowledge about how to fill in the details, or a lack of understanding that there are details that need to be filled in.
The Good? These folks are great communicators and salespeople; they can easily develop the network needed for business success, and therefore possess a huge amount of potential.
The Bad? They don’t know what they don’t know (and they may not know how to figure that out). Talk will only get you so far. Eventually, people need to see something that is defensible, fleshed out and complete. Normally, the politician has been successful in another type of career. Thus, they think they know what they are doing, but have no knowledge of how to put an actual business together. ‘Creating’ a business and ‘operating’ a business are two very different things.
The Broken Record: Stuck on the same chorus over and over again, this entrepreneur is the opposite, in many ways, to the slut and the politician. They stick ad naseum with one idea (even it if is a bad one) and agonize over little details without paying any attention to the big picture
The Good? They do realize that a business can’t be created unless you understand and work out the (sometimes sticky) details.
The Bad? Their focus is misdirected. They don’t realize that although it is true that details matter, they must be analyzed within the context of the larger vision.
None of these people will ever create a successful business. They might have great ideas, but they are clueless as to how to get to finish line. You don’t need to know it all as an entrepreneur, but you do need to understand your own bad habits. Figure out what is holding you back, and get out of the way of your own success.
Laura Petrolino is Managing Director of Flying Pig Communications, a communications and business consulting firm which focuses on the needs of startups, small business and non-profits. She also serves as Chief Communications Officer at Ignite Venture Partners, which brings together consulting, capital and concept incubation to build value in businesses of all sizes and in all stages, and across industries.
Laura is a great writer and a great advisor. Be sure to check out her blog!