'Entrepreneur' is a title that has impressive connotations, and in no small part because of the immense amount of hard work involved--not to mention the psychological toll the journey can take. Possibly the hardest thing to so--but also the most vital--is to remain innovative and grant this success longevity.
It might mean evaluating yourself harshly, as you would another entrepreneur, and taking a microscope to parts of the entrepreneurial experience that you might be dodging, or those that need improvement.
Here are 4 of the biggest reasons entrepreneurs struggle with taking their companies to the next level, and how you can avoid these pitfalls in 2019.
1. They fail to leave their comfort zones
Being an entrepreneur is a major risk and forces you to make blind leaps to become truly disruptive. This requires you to leave those realms where you are comfortable and knowledgeable, and quickly adapt to new, unfamiliar settings. However, most of us are too comfortable to consider the possibility. A mindset like this can be a serious problem for budding business founders.
T. Harv Eker, author of the book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, notes that "nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined."
Comfort is the death of innovation, which is the startup founder's lifeblood, so one should seek discomfort to find the most value. Push yourself next year.
2. They don't plan for contingencies
Entrepreneurs are often so focused on doing what they're already on track with, they rarely see what's on the periphery. This myopic view loses sight of business innovation, and it promises larger troubles down the line. The savviest entrepreneurs understand this, so they design their companies to be flexible and agile.
In the startup world, quick change doesn't mean a business is in distress, it could be that it's discovered a 'killer app' and wants to quickly refocus on the new lucrative niche. If a company finds a new purpose or market for its product, it'll require determination and preparedness, and if it lacks either then the chance will come and go.
As Markus Mikola, the CEO and founder of corporate document system ContractZen observes, "The problem with most startups is that they are blindsided when change comes fast. Whether it's coming from an external stakeholder or a board member, you never know when you'll need to be ready to help someone perform their due diligence about you."
3. They try to do too much
The process of founding a business is the art of taking lofty visions and converting them into a practical, working product. This is a tricky balancing act, forcing entrepreneurs to reconcile their wildest fantasies with the realities of running a business. It often manifests in 'feature creep' and over-design, which translates to overspending as well.
The truth is that as much as it is about running a business, entrepreneurship is also about understanding the right times to go all out.
Focus on dedicating more resources and efforts to tasks that are practical, deliver greater value, and emphasize the product's unique offering.
4. They delegate poorly
Being a startup founder and entrepreneur is a lonely position--something I personally empathized with in my early startup days. It involves working on things by yourself and often being your own motivator and cheerleader. But as companies grow, founders who might be used to doing everything themselves must now divide their efforts and delegate.
This change can be difficult for a variety of reasons. For one, entrepreneurs are understandably passionate and possessive of their businesses. Difficulties in letting go and accepting help from "outsiders" is common. Additionally, after working alone for so long it may be hard to see the immediate value of accepting help. For a company to grow, leaders must realize that they can't do everything and still focus on the future.
Your ability to share the workload is vital, as it lets you focus on the things that really matter instead of the minutiae--and it builds a team culture based on trust and specialized expertise. Be self-aware of when you need to delegate and use your valuable currency of time wisely.
Step it up in 2019
For entrepreneurs, the risk is not getting started, but rather having the courage to keep going. As a founder, you face a life of challenges and risks. Instead of shying away, the ability to stare at the unknown in the face and be unwilling to flinch will let you thrive.
Overall, resilience is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. So, whether you're a successful, serial entrepreneur or are just starting out, remember that there's always room to fortify your entrepreneurial foundation.
Everyone can step it up in 2019--so make it count.