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What Color is the Sky in Your Entrepreneurial World? Are You Dealing with Reality?

"Reality isn't the way you wish things to be, nor the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are."

Robert J. Ringer,
Entrepreneur, Motivational Writer/Speaker

Early stage entrepreneurs often have so much passion and belief in their business concept that they become blind to the realities of the world around them. I've read a number of business plans that made me wonder what the color of the sky was in this entrepreneur's world.

And while you might think that this would be more a problem with early stage companies, many, years into their business, seemingly, continue to operate in an alternative universe, not so much out of passion and belief, but now ego because they've been around and survived.  But that said, still not really understanding what is truly happening both inside their company and the market around them.

It's one thing to believe in your business and market, either through passion or ego. Quite another to understand it.  Are you dealing with reality in your small business?

Reality requires that you, the entrepreneur, make a difficult trip to the mirror and ask yourself some fairly tough questions. Here are some questions that may give you some indication that you need a reality check, no matter where you are in your business growth cycle.

Do you have no "ugly children?"
That is, do you consistently believe your company has no weaknesses and your product has no "holes?" There is no perfect organization nor perfect product. And worse, it isn't economically feasible to have either. Believing in your people is one thing; perceiving them to be all "A" performers is another. Believing you have a "kick ass" product is one thing; believing it has no shortcomings that you have to sell around, is yet another.

Do you have real in-depth knowledge about competitive offerings?
Or do you believe that no matter what, yours are better? Do you know who you compete with , where and why? Do you know where and how they are better?How do they price and sell?And more importantly, what can you learn from them?

Is your glass not just "half full" but "overflowing?"
It's one thing to be optimistic - the literal "glass half full" mindset. Quite another to simply be a dreamer where your glass is always overflowing! Do you over-promise and under-deliver?Do you have unrealistic expectations of employees, partners and suppliers and are, consequently, always disappointed?

Do you surround yourself with people you can trust?
Trust meaning employees and advisors who won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. Are naysayers silenced in your organization?  Is everybody drinking the "aren't we doing great" Kool-Aid?

Do you listen to your customers?
When's the last time you conducted a survey that asked the late Mayor of New York, Ed Koch's favorite question, "How am I doing?" How often do you listen to customer's requests for new features and functions? Or do you know what they need? Do you believe that customer loyalty is earned once and kept forever, so they don't really need much attention or support?

Operating in reality is critical to entrepreneurial success. Don't let passion or ego blind you as to what is real; what you need to understand to be successful.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things.  He's been there.  May success be with you! 


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