Thursday, May 19th | 18 Iyyar 5782

May 3, 2011 9:30 am

The First Step

avatar by Ari Teman

“Where do we start?”
“Just show me where to begin…”
“What’s the first step?”

These are common questions from would-be entrepreneurs. Yet, if you’re asking them, you may be doomed to remain a “would-be” entrepreneur.

I’ve been blessed to be a part of many start-ups and to see many more. A few have been successful. All have been learning experiences. And one of the key lessons is: Innovators don’t look for a starting point, they just start.

There are a few reasons why waiting for a signal or map rarely works:

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First, if you’re truly innovating, there is no exact map. Yes, it’s often wise to model other successes; however, the likelihood is you’ll be coming from a different vantage point. You’ll need to draw your own map.

Second, the map will change. Even if you come up with a perfect business plan, you’re going to need to adapt. Apple didn’t start as a phone manufacturer. Verizon didn’t offer TV service. You cannot remain beholden to a preexisting map.

Third, and most importantly, is you need to be your own signal. If you’re waiting for someone or something to motivate you to do X, then you’re not the person to do X. Innovators have down days, too, but we’re crazy enough to push through them. Leadership comes from within.

There we get to the real issue: Fear.

What is stopping you? Fear of failure? Fear of loss? Fear of embarrassment? Perhaps you face what Virginia Satir called the greatest fear: fear of the unknown. Or, perhaps you face the fear of greatness and the fear of falling from it.

In almost all cases, being an innovator requires putting your head in the sky and risking it being slammed down to earth. And guess what: It will be! You’re going to have pain, embarrassment, critics and naysayers, disappointments and mistakes. These will hurt. Hard. And then you’ll get up and do it again, because failing is painful, but regretting the steps you didn’t take is worse.

The first step to starting anything is to start.

Recommended Reading:

Guy Kawasaki: Art of the Start
Seth Godin: Linchpin
Scott Belsky: Making Ideas Happen

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