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OnRamp Business: 4 Insanely Productive Habits of Successful Young Entrepreneurs

4 Insanely Productive Habits of Successful Young Entrepreneurs

Written By: Dan Steininger, President and Co-Founder of BizStarts
As seen on the February 2, 2015 post in Milwaukee Business Journal OnRamp Blog.

Michael Simmons interviewed some of the most successful entrepreneurs and asked them to share their advice for young entrepreneurs.  It’s always valuable to learn from those who’ve gone before you but don’t make it your Bible.  

Simmons points out the “entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart as it requires founders to forge their own path, gather resources and take on huge financial risks – all in hopes of avoiding the fate that 80 to 90% of startups suffer: failure.”

Simmons identified successful entrepreneurs who could offer unique and concrete habits entrepreneurs can adapt immediately in their personal lives and businesses that can have a game changing impact in how entrepreneurs can handle all of this.

–Co-founder Jesse Lear of V.I.P. Waste Services

“Every weekend, I go on a long hike in a place that I’ve never been before.  I do the research in advance and sometimes, I drive as far as an hour away.  My hikes are anywhere between one and four hours long.  I take an old-school composition notebook with me, and I let the thoughts come; I don’t force anything.

The habit helps to relieve stress and unpack the ideas from the week.  It’s kind of like meditation.  By constantly evaluating ideas and how they fit into your business, you can slowly render them into reality and watch your imagination  unfold.”

–Founder Phil Dumontet of Dashed

“Reflect on critical open questions through different lenses.

Most of the technologies we’ve ended up inventing and developing, and most of the strategies we’ve ended up pursuing, have been borne by a long cultivation of an open question, followed by the nurturing of a slow hunch.  I am able to tolerate open questions for months, or years.

Open questions could include queries about how to find a co-founder for your business idea when people have their own interests and projects to work on or how to sell your new product to an entity that is typically averse to risk.  (Answers:  Work with them on their projects to who your worth and tempt them with interesting questions; show how to dramatically reduce a risk they already bear.)

Usually, the simple answers that come quickly do not satisfy me.  But instead of giving up or forgetting it, I work at the problem each day from different angles, under different lenses–which can include but are not limited to: looking at extremes, considering what essential assumptions are and how to test them, and discovering how a different industry might solve a problem.  Eventually I find some real traction with an idea that seems novel and has a good chance of working.”

–Co-founder Danielle Fong of LightSail Energy

“Set three specific goals weekly and monthly — ignore everything else.

There are a million things you can do to improve your business.  The problem is, if you try to fix or improve them all at once, you end up not making much progress in any of them.

You need to be relentless in following your goals.  At least once a day, I find myself asking, “Is what I’m working on directly helping one of the three goals?” It’s easy to distract yourself with tasks that aren’t critical.  You just need to stay on top of it.  This helps us accomplish big things quickly.

To hold ourselves accountable and stay on the same page, we have weekly meeting on Fridays.  During these meetings, our company sets the goals for the upcoming week and see where we are on the previous week’s goals.  It’s a lot easier to say “what went wrong this week” then “what went wrong this quarter.”

— Co-founder Patrick Ambron of BrandYourself

“May habit is that I create lists for everything for one hour as soon as I get to the office every morning or the day before at the end of the day.  I record these lists in Notes on my iPad, computer, and iPhone.  I also use Gmail Tasks so I can link my lists to emails.

It forces me to thing through my day, my week, my year, and my long term plan before beginning to execute.  This improves my organization and clarity.  In the past, I got caught up with the day-to-day details, and I took my mind off of the big goals.

There is a great YouTube video that I love, which inspired me to start the habit.”

View Dan’s blog post on OnRamp >>

About the Author
Dan Steininger is the president and co-founder of BizStarts. BizStarts facilitates the creation of new companies in southeast Wisconsin. He currently teaches courses on innovation for the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education for business leaders. Contact BizStarts >>

About OnRamp
OnRamp offers conversation and connections among the entrepreneurs who are shaping Wisconsin’s economy, and brings corporations and start-ups together at statewide events. View other OnRamp blog posts >>

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