CEOs of startups and emerging companies are always looking for useful advice and ideas on brand building and how the management of their early stage brand can help them move from where they are now to some elevated place they want to be. Many early stage business leaders know what they want, and the direction they’d like to go, yet the “how to do it” part remains elusive.
Accomplishment has no silver bullets. Getting things done and making things happen isn’t magic, it’s real work–actually it’s great work! I’m sure you’ll agree nothing is more satisfying and fulfilling than turning possibilities into achievement. The questions I get asked most often from early-stage business leaders are “how do we make it happen?” and “where do we start?”
What they really want to know is “how can I start at the top and work up from there?” Few are willing to start something at the bottom. Everybody wants a shortcut to the top.
Don’t get me wrong, if you find a shortcut–a faster, better, cheaper way to accomplishing your business goals, by all means go for it. There are many shortcuts to be found on the road to your success. The important thing one must understand about shortcuts is they are only made available to you AFTER you start at the bottom.
Every great accomplishment starts at the bottom. The bottom being the place where you have no prior skill, knowledge or experience. Every accomplishment begins with your willingness and acceptance of being at the bottom — unaccomplished!
Having to face being at the bottom is one reason why many early stage CEOs won’t get their business to the top. They never gave themselves a fair shot because many don’t want to risk failure and they don’t like feeling unaccomplished. It’s more comfortable to stay where they are even if that means staying stuck wondering what to do next.
There is no formula for moving forward toward an accomplishment you desire. You just begin at the bottom and don’t worry too much about the “how”.
Every accomplishment begins in the mind
Everything that ever was, is now, or ever will be begins as a formless thought in the mind. Nobody is better at innovative ideas or creating value for people than entrepreneurs. I’m confident you’ve been thinking about lots of ideas to move your company and your brand forward. Regardless of the amount of ideas you are thinking about, the trick is to make the organizational commitment to follow the one that has lots of creative juice, then forget about the others (for now). All accomplishment involves the art of sacrifice – and so it is with brand building.
At the early stage of business growth it is necessary to make a decision to go “all in” on one idea at the exclusion of all other alternatives. This level of organizational creativity and focus builds energy and energy is motion – motion is progress.
Start small, really small
Once a decision is made to focus resources on representing a highly valued (relevant) and differentiated value proposition to customers, it’s tempting to take big swings at making things happen at the beginning. In my own experience working with emerging brands, it seems more useful to take really small incremental moves toward building brand equity. For many growing companies it’s easier to “digest” a small goal rather than attempt a big stretch so early in game. Allow your organization to get its “legs” first, building confidence internally and with customers bit by bit. It’s amazing how much gets accomplished in small bits over time. And when it feels right, go ahead and stretch.
Ideas take their own sweet time to come into form
Unlike predictable gestation periods for living organisms, creative ideas take their own sweet time coming into form. There’s simply no way to know with certainty how long accomplishing anything will take. There are three attributes inherent in any accomplishment: patience, persistence, and time. The first requires unbending faith, the second repeated action, and finally the last element takes what it takes. The good news is you’re in control of two out of three of those attributes. Not bad odds.
Think of the bottom as the foundation of the bigger future
Anything worth accomplishing is worth placing on a strong foundation. Think of starting at the bottom as the foundation for a bigger future. At the bottom, you’ll discover the value of focused energy, faith, action and trust in yourself and the people in your organization. Build your accomplishments on those foundational elements and you’ll be absolutely astonished at your progress.
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