Take the Blinders Off
By Rob Basso
When you are young and inexperienced in business, you run into snags- a lot of snags. But as nice as it might seem to be able to predict all the challenges you’ll face, there is an upside to not seeing those lurking hurdles.
Having this sort of no-worries-in-sight belief system lends a certain freedom to the way you pursue opportunities. This is especially true when you’re entering new terrain, such as introducing something that the new market has not necessarily seen before.
As Broadway producer Ken Davenport puts it, “I don’t know the definition of the term ‘boundary.’ So I just go forward and don’t allow anything to get in the way. The moment I label something as ‘difficult,’ I slow down.” However, it stands to reason that an entrepreneur will find a way around the snow bank or simply storm right through it.
When you’re young, ambitious and hungry for success, you’ll stop at nothing to gain momentum, seizing opportunities that the more seasoned deem unworthy or even foolish. But Joe Corcoran held so much conviction for the fun to be had at the show Tony and Tina’s Wedding that he put his heart and soul into making it work. “It was my first show,” Corcoran says. “Had I had more experience I may have passed. It has 27 actors, an audience of 150, and requires us to serve a meal. There was not high gross potential. It had two venues: a church, and then everyone went down the block to eat. My naïveté caused me to believe in the show so much that I pursued it. If I had known then what I know today, I might be a bit more jaded- which could have prevented me from following my passion.” Tony and Tina’s Wedding became one of the most buzzed about shows and Corcoran’s success was astonishing.
In my own personal experience, I was never much for working for someone else. So when I was looking to make some quick cash over the summer while in college, I bought a couple of ice cream truck routes and hired some friends as drivers. However, I soon realized that no one hands you a rulebook that breaks down protocols when you go into business. When you don’t know the boundaries of expected practices, there is nothing to hold you back. Then again, without boundaries, you might step in some pretty murky water.
That was the case with my ice cream truck business. Surprisingly, the routes were profitable, and my drivers were entrepreneurial in maximizing sales by knowing which streets generated the most customers at what time. But little did they know they were actually encroaching on someone else’s territory. Suddenly, they – and by default I – were immersed in an ice cream turf war where we looked like poachers. We held a meeting with the other driver and came to an understanding. Since we were losing profits now, I figured out a way to make the money back. We priced ice cream cones at $1.50 knowing that kids would have two quarters left over. We would then ask, “Would you like some lollipops for later, they’re 25 cents.”
In business, as with any other endeavor, the hurdles can seem to just keep coming. But the more often you’re able to leap over them, the more proficient you will become at seeing things from new angles and remaining resourceful. When honing your entrepreneurial chops, keep the following in mind:
- Push past the “no,” even if this means coming up with alternate plans in order to stay on track.
- Hold steady, even when the stakes are high.
- Hang in there as long as the venture is viable. But be sure to understand your threshold, and remember that everyone’s different.
- Always apply logic when appealing to the people who can make a difference in your quest.
- Think twice about crossing boundaries and stepping on toes; both of these can backfire.
- Never let ego get in the way, and recognize when it is time to fold.
- Take the time to reevaluate your circumstances. Even if your venture fails, it may still have assets that prove valuable to the market.
- Remember that while struggles can be brutal; they are also ripe with learning opportunities that you will likely never forget.
- Never give up completely; a failed venture could have another life sometime in the future.