A Beginner’s Mindset
Being a beginner can be your special advantage, instead of a drawback.
A beginner understands that temporary failure is part of enduring success.
A beginner is free of expectations. Experts suffer from so much pressure to live up to expectations from themselves and others. But beginners—we are free! We are free to create and fail, and try again, and have a detour, and then succeed.
Respond to the inner critic with a reminder that you are learning, the way you would shut down a bully.
Even if you are experienced in your industry, consider looking at what you are doing through fresh eyes to see a different perspective.
Don’t delay. Don’t wait to acquire any type of additional skill or insight. Begin now.
Deepen Your Focus
Your creation depends on your attention like you depend on air.
Set a Single Intention: Setting a “theme” for your deep work moment will help you stay strong against distractions of other urgent but less important tasks.
Create a Container: Whatever space you associate with your best focus and productivity, turn it into a cocoon of quiet that you can retreat to regularly without disturbance.
Set a Time Limit: If you don’t take an intentional break, your body and brain will take one for you, by finding ways to wander off or space out. Setting a time limit will also empower you to respect a healthy work/life balance.
Practice Every Day: Cultivating the ability to focus requires practice. The more you do, the more you can do.
Keep Your Momentum
The flow of progress is forward. Keep the momentum going, no matter what.
While momentum must be forward, it need not be fast. Sometimes you’ll need to sprint, and sometimes a shuffle will do.
Ask yourself each day: What is the best next action I can take today?
Let the voice and needs of your customers be your guide. Their stake in your success is the most objective.
Seek and absorb advice from others, but always trust yourself to make the final decision, even if it is counterintuitive to mainstream beliefs.
Because our startup is a creation close to us, sometimes things can get personal. Use mindfulness and meditation to observe your project from a distance and gain objective clarity on the best next steps.
Leverage Your Resources
Interrogate your need for venture capital, knowing that many startups neither need this type of funding, nor are they a good fit for it.
Consider alternative funding sources before deciding to give away a large chunk of equity.
Apply passion, ingenuity, and determination to the process of finding the first few paying customers for your business.
Work with these early-paying customers to ensure you are providing a full solve to their problem—that is, that you’ve found a secure product/market fit.
Start With Needs
Find problems by walking in your customers’ shoes.
Seek to solve a problem before seeking to start a business.
People are needy, which means business ideas and opportunities are abundant.
Don’t solve just any need. Make sure it is one that connects with you and fills your heart with a sense of purpose, as though you were chosen for it.
A deep purpose for what you are doing will provide the staying power needed to endure.
Explore your competition to design your positioning in the market.
Don’t try to please all of the people. Be specific in the problem you solve and whom you solve it for.
Craft a positioning statement that specifically addresses your customer, the problem you solve, benefits you provide, and your company’s purpose for existing. Continue to assess that statement as the market provides you with further insight.
Adopt an abundance mentality. In the business jungle, there is enough soil and sunlight to grow and nurture most species in the market.
After you peek at your competitors, bring all of your attention back to optimizing the value and impact of your own startup.
Finding Your Partners
As you evaluate candidates for roles at your startup, seek a willingness to grow and a passion for your mission.
The people you hire should demonstrate the ability to grow, learn from failure, and have a tendency to value work and perseverance more than innate talent.
Take the DiSC® assessment to understand your behavior tendencies, and use it as a guide to hire people to balance your behavior.
Evaluate candidates’ energy, looking for centered energy, neither spilling nor withholding.
Keep your team small to maximize efficiency and sustainability.
Keep Your Options Open
Make peace with encountering obstacles and closed doors—they are both expected along the startup way.
An obstacle is difficult but not impossible to surmount. You can detect an obstacle because overcoming it makes you stronger or gives you a new ability.
A closed door is so difficult to surmount that it weakens you.
Learn to understand the difference between an obstacle and a closed door to find your focus and move forward.
Take Care of Your Body
Mess with your body and your body will mess with you.
Honor your basic needs, including sun, nourishment, sleep, and hydration, and respect the natural cycles and rhythms your body operates on.
Find people who provide a space of unconditional acceptance for you to celebrate or despair, whether a best friend, spouse, or therapist.
Listen to your emotions, and become aware of your pain. Accept that you are not alone in your pain, and that it is OK to create in pain.
Human connection immunizes you against burnout. Make sure to nurture positive relationships with close others who believe in you.
When you feel the urge to quit, retreat instead, and allow the mental, physical, and heart space to work wonders on you and propel you to the next step.
Scale It Responsibly
Attract opportunities by staying visible in very targeted ways and allowing yourself to be found.
If an opportunity doesn’t fully compute, trust that something better can and will come along.
Keep squeaky-clean financial and formation records.
Strive for profitability, as this is incredibly attractive to potential acquirers.
In the face of a dilemma, achieve clarity by conducting a cost/payoff analysis at an emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial level.
This transaction is only consummated once—so make it count.
When you build something great, be prepared to let it go. Every masterpiece, whether a business, a piece of art, or a child, will someday need to take on a life of its own.