Blog: Pavan Muzumdar

Post 4: Putting It All Together

I have often struggled with the question:  How do you define success in entrepreneurship?  

After all, not all financially successful entrepreneurs are happy.  And, I know some happy entrepreneurs that aren't exactly wildly successful financially.  Sure, they make enough to pay the bills, but aren't really raking it in.  They do however, enjoy what they do and have been able to support their lifestyles and passions.  

So which one is successful?  A rich, unhappy entrepreneur, or a happy one with modest means?  I don't know the answer, but I have recently thought of one metric that works for me: Staying in the game.

To me, staying in the game is a function of having enough financial success and enough happiness (a catch-all for personal, professional, and emotional satisfaction, contentment, drive, etc.) to support you and keep you going.  It's that definition of success in entrepreneurship that brings me to my personal roadmap using the ideas in this blog.

Step 1:  Manage your personal portfolio

In my first entry I talked about taking small option-like risks.  That requires having a strong foundation on which to take these risks.  The risks that you then take don't take you out of the game.  The downside is a little lost time and/or money.  The upside should be limitless.  This is also the reason why I don't believe it's a good idea to "bet the farm" on any single venture.  Sure there are people who have mortgaged their homes and gone through hell to come out very successful on the other side.  But from a portfolio management standpoint, that's probably the last thing you should do.

The better approach would be to continue to risk small amounts of time and money.  Look for the 1-ft bars.  Some refer to this process as fail fast, fail often, and fail cheaply.  But learn from every failure, and redefine failure to be a successful learning experience.  Edison never gave up looking for the ideal incandescent light bulb filament material because each failure was notched as successfully proving one more material as inappropriate for that use.  That's what kept him going.

Step 2: Build your personal ecosystem

Whether it makes us dumber or smarter, the Internet gives us ways to connect with people that we never had before.  If used wisely these days it is easier than ever to build a personal ecosystem of resources and providers that can provide the critical nourishment a young company needs. ??We have so many opportunities and forums in which to do this today, online and in person.  All it takes is showing up and participating.  For example, the GLEQ (Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest) a Michigan-based business plan competition for which yours truly volunteers as a coach is an awesome forum in which to connect with other entrepreneurs, coaches, and judges.  

It's these kinds of connections and collaboration that really ramp-up the wealth creation, as I mentioned in my second and third posts.

Step 3: Execute

Create the foundation, take the risk, make the connection, and finally, take action.  That completes the circle.  To me, action is the process of transferring the value of your creation to someone else – in other words selling.  There's nothing like validating an idea as having someone pay for it.  If you can then continue to do it repeatedly and sustainably, you have a business.

Continue the process and redefine success and failure. Don't lose your shirt and eventually there will be enough financial success with which to create a larger foundation and take bigger option-like risks to do it all over again – if you want to.