Like many entrepreneurs, I was inspired to found my start-up out of a desire for an adventurous, creative career, un-restricted by the rigid processes regularly associated with the corporate path.
However, I was conscious that strategising carefully would be essential to hitting the long-term business goals necessary to bring my concept to life and enable me to continue my adventure. Though challenging, finding a balance between my desire for adventure and the need for controlled strategy was possible. How did I achieve it, and how can you do the same?
Channel an adventurous atmosphere into meeting business goals
As a leader, you have the power to establish the atmosphere at your workplace, and unleash certain characteristics in your employees. Creating an adventurous climate, through office décor, extra-curricular activities and flexible working will foster creativity, as will encouraging these traits in your colleagues. This is the lifeblood of all successful start-ups, as innovative ideas will help you create a strong unique offering.
In order for an adventurous atmosphere to facilitate the achievement of long-term goals, such as developing and maintaining a strong USP, there must be a structured approach to channelling creativity. This is particularly important for employees whose previous experience in the corporate field conditioned them into thinking and acting in a specific way. For these individuals, sharing creative ideas and solutions may be easier said than done, so strategising how to unleash them is key. Immersing yourself in your teams so that you are approachable and establishing an ideas forum is a great way to get people thinking outside of the box, particularly when problem solving.
Throughout the life of your business you will be constantly problem solving. Reactively resolving issues that arise in the development process and proactively problem solving to optimise the quality of your offering. An adventurous mind will not only fuel a passion for this but enable you to come up with innovative solutions.
When you’re not channelling your adventurous spirit into your employees, focus it on embracing disruptive technologies. By working them into your business strategy early on you can distinguish yourself from the competition who’ll struggle to catch-up by the time they become common knowledge.
Surround yourself with people who can ground you
Being adventurous has undoubtable advantages. However, we’ve all experienced our adventurous nature running away with itself. In these situations, it’s essential to have people around who can ground you. When running a business, a willingness to be honest with yourself about the support you need is even more key.
For instance, a desire to establish your own goals independent of other people is natural when launching a start-up. However, if you have minimal practical experience in doing so it’s crucial to be open to the advice of colleagues who do, and take their council on whether your goals are unrealistic for the current stage of your business journey. In my case, I co-founded with my former colleague Benjy Meyer as I knew his ability to bring me back to what is achievable would perfectly compliment my blue-sky thinking.
Plan flexibility into your long-term strategy
If like me you’re in your twenties it’s likely that you have fewer commitments than your older counterparts. In many cases, we don’t have to worry about how our actions will impact upon dependents, and have the time and resilience to bounce back and learn from stumbles we might make on our path. As a result, we can make more adventurous but riskier decisions in the short term. However, when doing so, it’s important to remember that you won’t be in your twenties forever. It’s crucial to carefully weigh up decisions against long-term strategies and goals to ensure that you are developing your skills and maintaining a stable financial position.
Part of this means accounting for potential changes in direction when laying out your initial plan and reviewing regularly to monitor whether you are diverging from it in a healthy manner. This will allow you to sate your desire for adventure without completely derailing your progress or throwing away what you’ve achieved so far.
A love of adventure and dedication to establishing solid long-term business goals are both crucial aspects of successfully running a start-up. While at first glance they may seem mutually exclusive, they can not only operate in the same space but support one another - if you are willing to allow them.