This morning, I was reading an article with advice for first-time panelists, which suggested that creating “controversy” can be a good approach on a panel discussion. This got me thinking more deeply about how entrepreneurs should go about building their businesses. Many businesses simply follow a path that has already been set by others. While this approach can lead to a successful business, it will rarely lead to extraordinary results.
Pave Your Own Business Focus
You could certainly create a business that simply follows in the path of others. For example, you could open just another clothing store or restaurant that resemble businesses that already exist. Taking this approach can certainly help you make a living. But it will rarely lead to astronomical success.
In Zero to One, the authors point out that the most successful startups are those that create something out of nothing. In other words, business start from zero and get to one. Finding a business idea that will allow you to break the mold is often the key to building a truly exceptional business that will exceed all expectations. To be sure, you need to make sure that the business is not TOO far out there, but you success favors the bold.
Pave Your Own Marketing Path
Beyond being bold in choosing what the focus of your business will be, marketing often favors the bold — especially amongst startups and small businesses. A traditional example is GoDaddy, which used risky (and risqué) advertising buys to help it build its presence as one of the premier domain and website services.
In less traditional businesses, think of Gary V, who built his brand by using cutting edge social media and internet marketing techniques. He took a risk to be authentic and real, and his risk paid off. For entrepreneurs and startups, it pays to be on the leading edge of social media and other marketing mediums. The early adopters are nearly always the most successful participants in these marketing avenues. Sure, you will probably invest some time in some avenues that don’t end up going anywhere, but one big hit will be enough to make up for multiple failures.
If you are looking to make a living, you can play it safe. But if you want to build a truly exceptional business that has the potential to thrive and help you prosper, you will have to take risks. Paving your own path can be lonely, but it is the surest path to success.