Mission Before Business, Horse Before Cart

People throw around the word “entrepreneur” like it’s a lifestyle trend. Many fancy themselves an “entrepreneur” with only the curiosity (or perhaps a lust) for building a business. Like movie or rock stars, many successful business leaders keep up a public image. Far too many people subscribe to entrepreneurship because it sounds and looks cool. Most fail to understand the real work involved.

Building a business is very hard. With very few resources at hand, you must pull everything together through favors and very long hours. If you do not truly believe in what you are building, then it will never work. You must have a mission or product you believe in first before chasing your lust for business. Not only that, but you must have a mission or product that can inspire other people to help you and customers to buy from you. That’s a tricky thing to find. Most wannabe entrepreneurs forget that the core mission or product is what it’s all about. And it must come first.

Everyone and his or her mother wants to start a business and be a boss. Nobody will care about you until you give him or her something to sink teeth into. If you cannot offer the world a product that changes lives, then you must start with a mission people can understand, sign on for, and follow to the end. You must get the team on board and excited. And to find success with your business, you must get customers on board and excited as well. As the character Proximo says in Gladiator, “Win the crowd, and you will win your freedom.”

Find your core idea, set your mission, build a product, and then build a business around it. You cannot have a business without something to be busy about.

The Collaboration Engine

Very few people can get anything done alone. Do not think for a second that you can get away with sitting in a room by yourself all day and end up building an empire. The odds are not great because you will lose inspiration and steam. It has nothing to do with what you are capable of. It has everything to do with keeping your dream fresh. If your dream sits inside of you and never escapes, it will get stale and die.

How do you keep your dream alive? Share and build it with others. Other people can act as bouncing boards. You send an idea out into the world, and it comes back to you in a different form. As an artist, it’s exciting because you can better-understand how others will react to your vision. As a businessman, it’s imperative to get outside feedback. More often than not, you are too close to your dream to see the flaws or incongruities. Find a friend and get outside of your head.

But getting feedback on your dream is not enough. You need to keep pumping the piston by passing the idea back and forth. Strong bouncing boards will shape your idea and make it stronger. Find a collaborator with whom you can pass ideas back and forth consistently. Find a collaborator who is accessible, trustworthy, and near the same wavelength. Try to avoid skipping a beat. Don’t drop the ball, or the idea may shatter.

Keep collaboration alive. It may very well be the key to achieving your dream.