This is part of my Series on Entrepreneurial Culture.
Sometimes, when Simon Cowell tells American Idol contestants that "you chose the wrong song" or "that was a bit indulgent", it makes me think of entrepreneurs I've seen jumping into the wrong business without enough thinking and preparation. Often, the Idol contestants will sheepishly nod in agreement or mutter some sort of wistful explanation such as "well, the song really spoke to me", or "I saw it and just started playing it in rehearsal". Simon, more so than the other judges then will often remind the contestants that they are actually participating in a competition.
It's of course great to be enthusiastic, but one thing I've learned over the years is that one has to save that enthusiasm and energy for the right opportunities! Starting a new business is such a massive commitment that simply being "enamored with the idea" does not suffice. Too many entrepreneurs looking for their next business look at opportunities through the prism of their eagerness to get cracking right away and don't ask the hard questions about the market, customer adoption, the competitive landscape, etc. Inevitably this leads to a lot of wasted time, money and enormous disappointment. So if you are between start-ups and by nature an incredibly enthusiastic person, here are some things to consider:
- For once in your life, just take your time- do your diligence and don't rush into a new venture
- Put out a lot of feelers and meet with lots of people who see a lot of deal flow in your community
- Surround yourself with a few sober, experienced advisors who can help you assess things
- If you have no domain expertise in the proposed venture no matter how cool it sounds, it's probably a bad idea- so be really careful
- Approach this in-between phase professionally and impose a disciplined approach on yourself
- As candidate opportunities arise talk to potential customers, investors, domain experts and develop a keen understanding of the addressable market, the competition, barriers to entry, capital requirements, etc.
I hope this helps. Let me know your thoughts.