Are you tempted to skip the difficult aspects of your entrepreneurial journey? Do you find yourself wanting to avoid, delegate, or outsource challenging tasks?
Embracing the tough stuff is essential for building a growth venture.
The Downfall of IBM and the Power of Doing the Tough Stuff: During the emergence of the personal computer industry, IBM, the computing leader, chose to outsource the development and control of their PC standard. By licensing Microsoft’s operating system without exclusivity or an acquisition option, and avoiding the tough stuff of developing or acquiring a PC operating system, IBM unknowingly planted the seeds of their descent into mediocrity.
The Facebook Phenomenon: Lessons in Tough Choices: When three students conceived a brilliant idea for a college campus social platform, they outsourced the demanding task of coding to a fellow student named Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg took ownership of the idea and built the social media giant, Facebook. This example highlights the potential risks associated with evading the tough stuff and surrendering control of critical aspects of your venture.
The Importance of Prioritizing the Tough Stuff: Entrepreneur Mark Knudson, (Bootstrap to Billions) who successfully built ventures in the medical device industry, advocates for addressing the tough stuff first. Knudson’s rule of thumb is to validate the viability of a new medical device while there is still ample financial backing. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly prioritize easier tasks, leaving the tough challenges for later stages. Unfortunately, delaying the test of difficult tasks can lead to financial constraints or insurmountable hurdles that hinder progress.
Cracking the Code of Billion-Dollar Entrepreneurs (BDE): Billion-Dollar Entrepreneurs who build billion-dollar ventures in emerging trends face an even greater need to focus on the tough stuff. In an industry where key factors for dominance are unknown, three strategies can help navigate the challenging terrain.
#1. Focus on the key segment and unmet needs. Identify the segment that benefits the most from the emerging trend and understand their unmet needs. Examples include Bill Gates recognizing the benefits of PCs for small businesses and consumers, while IBM failed to adjust its corporate focus accordingly. Michael Dell focused on the direct-to-consumer model and dominated PCs.
#2. Capitalize on the competitive edge. Anticipate how competitors will try to surpass you and devise strategies to outperform them. Sam Walton’s focus on small towns and on building the necessary infrastructure to supply his stores differentiated him from direct competitors like Kmart and Target. Steve Shank realized that the key to Capella’s success was accreditation. This was the tough stuff – and what he focused on.
#3. Be ready to pivot. Entrepreneurs rarely find the perfect strategy at the venture’s inception and the ability to pivot is crucial. Bill Gates shifted from software development to selling operating systems, while Sam Walton transitioned from small stores to larger retail spaces. Horst pivoted from beauty salons to beauty schools when his hairdressers left him – after he trained them. The tough stuff in hairdressing was training. He sold his salons. started schools, expanded to cosmetics, and sold it years later for hundreds of millions.
MY TAKE: In your entrepreneurial journey, it is crucial to identify the tough stuff and face it head-on. Avoid diverting resources until you have solved the critical problem. Learn from the examples of industry giants who understood the value of embracing challenges and remember that success often lies beyond the comfort zone. By prioritizing the tough stuff, you pave the way for growth, and long-term success.
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