Congratulations! You have a vision that may warrant an enterprise. A better mousetrap, an entirely new solution, a novel way to service a need. You can see it: your very own brand that you've built from ground up to stake a claim and make some facet of life better. Every now and then you hear a faint whisper, wondering if you have what it takes to make something of it -- but you're not going to let reality get in the way of a good story.
You need to. Entrepreneurship tends to be romanticized, but it can be a long, winding, lonely road. And without the proper execution, your vision will amount to a hallucination -- nothing more. Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine whether you're really ready to stick to a well-drawn roadmap for the long haul.
Entrepreneurship is chaos. Does home life offer order?
According to Marriage.com, entrepreneurs tend to divorce at rates 5-10 percent north of the average 50 percent, so I'm always amazed how few budding founders recognize the sacrifices demanded from those at home. Building a business requires compromise from every frontier of life, and the conflicts tend to fall into the typical relationship-conflict hotspots: money, time, attention, priorities. It certainly can feel like there's a third partner in the relationship, so be sure your significant other is not only on board, but bought in on the bigger vision and willing to bring the whole family along.
Even if you have your home team behind you all the way, it simply isn't worth the sacrifices if your idea hasn't been validated. Clearly you are enamored enough with your product or service to accept some sacrifices ahead, but will customers line up and feel the love at a rate high enough to justify them? Without proving your market fit and developing a revenue model based on warm signs from those within that market, you could face a very disappointing case of unrequited love from paying customers. We launched Yieldstreet's first website in just 90 days for just that reason. Instead of focusing the team on the "MVP" (minimum viable product), I drove them toward "MEP" (minimum effective product). Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But it was effective enough to instantly solicit real feedback and we incorporated those ideas into the next iterations -- which turned out to be ultimately more valuable for long-term success than initial perfection.
Will you know when to call the whole thing off?
Even the finest romances sometimes go astray, and so too could your startup -- no matter how much you've done to set the stage for long-term success. While it can be true heartbreak to walk away from an idea you believe in, sticking around without any evidence pointing toward a positive result is the very definition of madness. Yet I see it all the time -- entrepreneurs caught in an endless, years-long cycle of fundraising and capital spending that never adds up to anything sustainable. It's just as important to know when to surrender -- and to have the guts to do so -- as it is knowing how to start.
Remember, vision without execution is just hallucination. We've all had great ideas that just aren't meant to be profitable businesses, for one or more reasons. Make sure you're looking at your vision through all lenses to be sure you're seeing it -- and its longevity potential -- with a healthy dose of reality alongside the heady romance.