There’s a name given to folks who sign up for expensive club memberships and crowd the local gyms for the few weeks of the year only to drop out of sight come February or March – Resolutioners. They start with fire in their belly and good intentions, but when the going gets hard and results are slow in coming, that New Year’s resolution to get fit goes right out the window.
So as we consider how to continue moving forward with our business goals in the new year, here are three lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Resolutioners:
1. Throwing a lot of money at an idea may only mean that you’re lighter in the pockets a few months later with little to show for it. While regular gym-goers dread the crowded facilities during the first few weeks of the year, most have a benevolent tolerance, knowing that the hefty fees the new members pay will help keep their own membership fees lower – and that the crowded conditions are very temporary. To that same end, taking out loans, going after venture capital or draining your own account to get a new business off the ground must be backed up with a solid business plan and the fortitude to push through the difficult journey ahead if the money spent is going to be of value to your new enterprise. Perhaps funding is needed up front, but often the option to grow organically while proving ideas in the real world hold a real advantage. Taking on debt brings responsibilities to account holders which forever changes your ability to test ideas and explore innovative options without the need to bring in capital right away. Instead, you might explore what is in your power to keep expenses low – forgoing a salary, learning new skills rather than paying for services, or holding off on hiring employees to give you the advantage of testing ideas free of the burden of debt.
2. There is no such thing as easy, painless or quick when it comes to meeting our goals. Resolutioners begin the year with lofty goals, but when the days turn into weeks, the muslces are sore, and self-deprivation is no longer fun, commitment dissolves into self-doubt and giving up. It’s easy to have enthusiasm and energy when our idea is fresh and the praise is flowing from family and friends – after all, our idea is the next best thing since sliced bread. But it is good to remember that there is no getting rich quick when it comes to being an entrepreneur. Consider Groupon, whose founder Andrew Mason first started The Point (which later became Groupon) in 2006. He didn’t take on angel funding until almost the end of 2007 and eventually changed the company’s name to Groupon to focus on one specific idea generated from The Point. So while the press may sometimes paint Groupon, valued in April, 2010 at $1.3 Billion, as an overnight success, it isn’t. It is the fruition of years of hard work and commitment.
3. No one is going to hold your hand. Seriously. If a cheering committee were the answer to meeting one’s goals, Resolutioners wouldn’t give up after signing up for memberships, trainers and classes. In the end, we have to be able to talk ourselves down off the ledge when things get hard and believe in our goals deeply enough to make it through the plague of doubts that hit in the dark of the night. Anyone who has founded a company has spent sleepless nights wondering what kind of idiot they were for launching out into the unknown. But when the morning light comes, the commitment has to be even deeper than it was when we started. That’s not to say we should keep our head in the sand when we see something isn’t working or discover flaws in our plan. But we better not be depending on anyone else to bolster our faith in our idea. As an entrepreneur, we are the ones expected to do the hand-holding, to inspire others to follow, to push forward where roadblocks could easily stall our progress.
Perhaps the most important lesson of all we can learn isn’t from Resolutioners at all but from those who were there before and continue after the Resolutioners fade away.
The best resolution we can make this year as an entrepreneur is this: keep on keeping on. It’s the only way we’ll reach out goals.