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The Startup Philosophy Guiding the Best Entrepreneurs

The most successful business owners have a different way of viewing their path. Here's why you should give it a try.
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People who succeed at work and in life believe and act as if "everything is a gift."

Well, maybe not every single thing imaginable. But assuming that everything is a gift is a good way of looking at the problems and surprises you'll encounter in any endeavor, such as getting a new venture off the ground, or launching a new product line in an ultra-competitive market, or even in the day-to-day running of your company.

Why do the best entrepreneurs act this way? There are three key reasons.

1. Bad news is bad news.  

At some point, you inevitably are going to find out what people don't like about your product, service, or approach to the market. You always want to find that out as early as possible, to keep your loses to a minimum.

2. New information could take you in a different direction.

You were convinced that the world needed a better Italian restaurant. The world told you it didn't when you explained to it what you were planning to do.

But in telling you why they wouldn't go for your idea, a lot of people said, "You know what I would love? An app where I could type in, 'I feel like Italian tonight and would like to spend no more than $75 and have memorable Northern Italian classsics' and have three close-by choices pop up."  And suddenly, you are in the software business.

3. You got evidence.

True, it was not what you were expecting or even wanted, but it still puts you ahead of the person who is just thinking about doing something (like opening another Italian restaurant). You know something that person doesn't, and that is an asset. You are ahead of the game.

But what if it's really bad news? It's a disappointment. You were absolutely certain that people would love your new widget, and they didn't.

Well, in the case of the restaurant software app, you can go about things a different way. But suppose that doesn't work either? (Not enough people want the app to make it worth developing, as it turns out.)

Then what do you do?

Accept the situation to the point of embracing it. Take as a given that it won't ever change, and turn it into an asset.

What can you do with the fact that it won't ever change? Maybe it presents a heretofore-unseen opportunity. Maybe you build it into your product or service in a way that no competitor (having not acted) could imagine. Could you do it on your own? Could you sell the idea to someone else and use the proceeds for your next idea?

The thing to remember is this: Successful people work with what they have at hand--whatever comes along--and try to use everything at their disposal in achieving their goals. And that is why they are grateful for surprises, obstacles, and even disappointments. It gives them more information and resources to draw upon.

And that helps keep them ahead of the other guy, and improves their odds of being successful.

Ask Gerber: Bouncing Back From Failure

Can you recover from a failed business? Tips from Martin Zwilling, founder of Startup Professionals, and Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council.

IMAGE: Thomas Barwick/Getty
Last updated: Jun 9, 2014

PAUL B. BROWN | Columnist

Best-selling author (and Inc. magazine columnist) Paul B. Brown's latest book, Own Your Future, has just been published. Brown's blog appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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