Walt Boyle Jr. is a serial entrepreneur (he was on the founding team of Citysearch.com) and corporate maximizer/strategist based in Denver. I’ve known Walt since we were at Carolina together and have been lucky enough to collaborate with him on several ventures since. He's smart, funny and innovative. Here are some lessons learned from his entrepreneurial adventures.
Anyone with a single "do-good" bone in his or her body should find it easy to think of local and national organizations, associations, not-for-profits or civic, government and educational communities that would benefit from the creation of a strategic alliance with them, big or small. Aligning with others can help your business stand out while simultaneously raising awareness for the respective organizations. A win-win-win: business, community and karma.
Love is blind.
The time to seek objective feedback is now -- again and again. It's way too commonplace for an individual to be so close to one's own business model that s/he can't recognize what needs to be heard. Seeking third-party qualified objectivity is key, especially in the early stages. Investing more time, money and love into your idea alone won't guarantee success. Sometimes, a vision continues to get pushed up a hill because the pusher is already soooo invested in the "pushing" -- even when objective signposts might say something different, like "Stop". Alternatively....
The easiest word for people to say is "no". It's short (just two letters long), to the point and negative. "Won't work" rolls off the tongue pretty easily, too. Learn the difference between cynicism and constructive criticism. (Demand the latter). If what you are embarking on were easy, everyone would be doing it. Armchair cynics and termites are close cousins. Ignore nay-sayers, but do your research. [More tips on how to stay strong]
Know your strengths and embrace your weaknesses. If you can I.D. and own those areas in which you're personally lacking (and we all have them) you can hire and partner smartly to ultimately embolden your abilities, offerings and credentials. There's wisdom in knowing thyself. There's brilliance in smart augmentation.
Know thy enemy.
Stay on top of your competition by subscribing to their email newsletters, social sites and blogs. The strategic insights you gain can be amazing, without really trying.
Sometimes precise experience in an employee is less important than brain-power, energy and passion. Smart and highly accomplished individuals can learn what they need to know. Personalities can strengthen or weaken a team. The total package is a person who can ultimately make your business smarter, better, faster, stronger.
You've seen it -- the person behind the counter who'd rather be doing anything other than helping you. You can't fake passion. Others can read it. Your personal antidote? Do what you love. Follow your heart. Believe in what you're doing. Success will follow.
Next in the series: Communication tips for entrepreneurs