Every entrepreneur will have a different road to success – some will have a winding, dipping and difficult highway of hurdles and challenges, while some will have a straight run to a destination (and some, might have the latter only to be met with a pothole as they’re heading at speed to the next exciting pit stop).
What gathers each business journey in the same experiential basket is the fact that there’s no one way to achieve success and more importantly, there is certainly more than one definition of what success actually is.
For the world’s thinkers, doers, makers and believers, there are a few common places they’ll pass through on their ongoing journey – they may pop up in a different order, happen on different journeys altogether – that define the real path every entrepreneur will wander down.
We partnered with Lexus, a brand that knows the value of thinking outside the box and taking the road less travelled, to gather a few of the pivotal pit stops you’ll encounter on your journey to success:
1. The entrepreneurial epiphany
Commonly known as ‘the lightbulb moment’, this is the beginning of all your late nights, premature grey hairs and constant stream of coffee: this is where your entrepreneurial journey truly begins.
As the first step on the journey, it’s the moment when you find your true purpose as a future entrepreneur – going firm on your main idea, discovering your true purpose and passion as well as deciding on next steps, gathering information about how to progress and building, brick by brick, the resilience necessary to begin that venture. It’s here that you realise your idea can change the world and from that moment on, you can’t not see it through.
“When you really know your brand, your purpose, that makes everything so much easier – you’re not just chasing the latest trend,” Who What Wear founder Hillary Kerr has echoed of her now global venture begun with co-founder Katherine Power. “Authenticity is what resonates with people.”
Remember this moment when times get rough: write your purpose on the first page of a journal, on a post-it note on the inside cover of your favourite novel or wherever you’ll be able to come back to it and remind yourself of the reason you started.
2. Going firm on your point of difference
There’s something that makes you different, isn’t there? Something about your idea, your business model, your passion as opposed to someone else’s… If there wasn’t, there’d be no reason to do what you’re doing.
Your outsider’s mentality and your unique point of view gives rise to something that isn’t like what’s come before and while you might face opposition because of it, there comes a moment in every entrepreneur’s journey when you realise the very thing that may have been making it hard for you to break through is the very thing that will set you apart.
Dimmi founder Stevan Premutico, for example, faced 30 slammed doors before he finally got his start-up off the ground – then spent the next few years fighting off investors from his own front door. He later sold the platform to TripAdvisor for an undisclosed sum (but had $10 million turnover five years after launch).
It’s hard to see potential in something that’s never been done before (especially to outsiders you’re spending you’re time trying to get on board) but staying authentic to your ‘why’ and your vision for the business ultimately pays dividends, whether it be in the monetary or the personal currency – or hopefully both.
3. Landing your first sale or client
It’s often an uphill battle just to get people to back your idea but to get them to invest in it? Well, that’s what we call a real breakthrough.
Whether it be your Nan or a smitten stranger, the first time you finally have someone paying for what you’re worked tirelessly to produce can make all those previous hours of blood, sweat and tears worthwhile.
There will be other notable breakthroughs, like the standout sale one for State of Escape founders, Brigitte MacGowan and Desley Maidment.
“It was a definite pinch-yourself moment,” said Desley of the day global fashion influencer Olivia Palermo gave their young brand the nod (Brigitte remembers jumping up and down in her living room) by buying two, not one, of their neoprene, Bassike-stocked handbags. “She’s obviously on the world stage in terms of fashion… so we were like, ‘Hmm, okay, another tick of approval!’”
Celeb or family member – a sale is a sale and it’s usually a sign of things to come.
4. Finding the learning in the mistake
As the old adage goes, there are no mistakes, only lessons and every resilient entrepreneur will wholeheartedly agree. What you take from those mistakes will often mean the difference between success and failure.
One Night Stand creator Jamie Green is the perfect example of an entrepreneur who knows how to turn a low point into a launch pad.
“[I learnt] a lot of stuff, like piloting an idea before you throw absolutely every single cent that you have at it… [and involving] yourself in the market that you’re going to enter as much as possible,” Jamie has told Collective Hub of the lessons he learnt from his first failed venture. “So if you’re entering the fashion market and you’ve not been in the fashion market before, indulge yourself there for three months and go to every single meeting you can go to, read magazines about it, really educate yourself well before jumping ship.”
5. Reaching a big (or small) summit
You set your goals in life and in business and every time you kick one, there’s a reason to celebrate. Whether it be making it to the end of the financial year with all your papers in order, locking down your first staff member or seeing an ad for your brand in a respected media outlet, you’ll have that moment when success seems that little bit more achievable. Despite your fear, doubt and setbacks, you’ve made the seemingly impossible, possible. Revel in it, enjoy it, take in the view and then, get moving again. Reaching a high point isn’t the end of your journey, it’s the beginning of your self-belief to push to even greater heights – now that you’ve reached a high point, you know it’s time to spread those wings even further.