Saturday, November 13, 2010

You did that on purpose!

I bought a car phone in 1983, when they were very (very) expensive. At the time, I was a college student, with aspirations of going to medical school. I had no real job, but I had a fancy sports car (very spoiled – the only son of a very Italian family). And I just had to have a car phone. Did I mention that I was spoiled? I never did go to medical school, but I have since sold many a “car phone” in my career – and many of those sales were to Doctors.

Inside each and every one of us is a passion, a particular trait or talent which bears our name. There are those who have had the good fortune of turning their aptitude and strengths into a livelihood, transforming their hobby into a business. Is this on purpose, or by accident?

In recent years, due to abysmal economic circumstances, many people have found themselves without traditional jobs to support their families. So they began to dabble in less traditional occupations, discovering unexplored, unfulfilled niches and opportunities. The is full of such opportunities. Unfortunately, 80% or more of all new business ventures fail within the first 24 months. Alas, there are no short cuts to success, no matter how good the opportunity might appear.

Over the past few years, many new businesses were indeed created. And in some cases, many of these new businesses grew and flourished. But as demands came pouring in, many accidental entrepreneurs found themselves overwhelmed, unprepared, having never realized that their passion could take hold. Orders had to be turned down, the pace of production inevitably slowed, and the level of success stalled.

An accidental entrepreneur is a wonderful thing- as these daring individuals stumble across pockets of innovation and potential. But how does one maintain momentum and ensure that the growth of a new business isn't slowed or even killed before maturity?

An accidental entrepreneur begins their business without a plan, never dreaming that their hobby or passion could make it in the marketplace. But now that it has, without a plan, without vision, valuable goods and services become buried in tidal waves of growth. When this occurs, it is important to step back, slow down, and re-focus. What is the true nature of the business? What might have started out as an emergency “paycheck replacement” strategy is now a living, adolescent “entity” that needs good parenting. It is never too late to develop a strategy, to learn proper business procedures and processes, and evaluate points of profit and loss in order to allow a business to truly grow and prosper in healthy, sustainable way.

Accidental entrepreneurs should never lose heart or give up. Many successful businesses began accidentally. Hobbies can be transformed into corporations, but at some point in time, the creators stopped, stepped back, and formulated a proper business plan. True vision, purposeful strategies, and concrete guidelines steered them to their level of success.

So, I never did get my MD license plates, and I never did get to park next to fire hydrants legally. But I did get to say “I’ll call you from the car” long before anyone else thought it was possible. And that was no accident.

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