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Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
When I was growing up on a ranch in the hills of northern Canada, problem solving and creative thinking were just as precious as the knife in my back pocket. Sometimes my ideas were the only tools available to do the job.
I remember a time when I was in high school and when a cold front blew in the hills of Alberta. The average was about 40 degrees lower than that night, and I had a wake up call for 17 hours with 200 head of cattle to feed. The sun was still asleep when I retired from the bed and went to start the tractor. The “tick, tick, tick” of the starter was a sure sign that today, it would not happen for me.
I started to catch two hay bales at once and pack them by hand in the feeders. On my fourth trip to the manger, the hay bales began to seem a little heavier and the snow was much deeper. To my twelfth trip, I was exhausted and madder than hell in my situation.
I was determined not to leave this tractor too cold. So, I thought if I supplemented the plug-in with a wood stove to heat the small building where we were storing the tractor, I could start it in the morning. However, I learned quickly that if I did not wake up once a night to replenish the wood stove, the heat does not last. So I did it.
I learned from these frigid Canadian winters that all the good ideas have to be tested. And the tests require hard work and continued dedication. Whether to heat the shop with a wood stove or my plans to go to college, I had to be creative and work hard every day.
The time I spent at the engineering school has tested all I knew. In school, we learned to look at a structure and see its weaknesses and its strengths. I learned to find the value of what is good in a subject and how to improve what is bad. My diploma taught me to think like an engineer, but my cowboy roots remind me to bring a little common sense to a world where we often complicate things.
So what does this have to do with “Ready-Fire-Aim”? On the farm, you are sometimes limited in your time to study a problem: when the cows need to be fed, all you have to do is use your gut and common sense and get started. I call it “Fire”. You may have enough information, but doing something is better than doing nothing. Once you’ve started, don’t blindly follow the plan, but be ready to learn and adjust, like when I learned that I had to get up at night to power the stove. Once the tests and learning completed, you can really target your final plan.
So when I started my first business, I turned (it seemed to me, and it seemed like it would work). I knew it would be both challenging and rewarding and that I should be ready to adapt several times and, ultimately, to target my plan with testing and learning. It’s not because you’ve grown up on a farm in Canada that you can not be a successful entrepreneur. But it’s not because you have a good business idea that you will succeed.
I think every entrepreneur should ask these seven questions before embarking:
1. Do people want what I can offer?
Before you get started, ask yourself, “Are people interested in what I have to offer, and can I build it?” Make sure you have the expertise to make a good product. for your customers. Customers are your lifeline and they should always direct your decisions.
Related: 7 Myths About Starting a Business I Believed
2. What resources can I use?
Sometimes the resources you need are not those you have.
However, succeeding is ingenious. When I chose to create a technology company in Spokane, Washington, I knew I had to overcome some obstacles. One of the difficulties to be located outside of Silicon Valley was to find high level of experienced programmers who can design sophisticated technology. I went for men and women with roots in Spokane who had a productive and successful career elsewhere and who might be interested in returning.
One of the best benefits of Spokane is that it is surrounded by some of the Northwest’s elite universities, which means that I had committed young students who were willing to work hard for every opportunity I could to them give. I used the resources available to me to bring what I had not.
3. Will I need a mentor?
In my view, the most important resource that you can acquire is a good mentor. The best are those that have been around the block and have the scars and battle wounds to prove it. My mentors have seen my mistakes before I do make, and I owe much of my success to their intuition.
If you need a mentor, you will find more often than the best were themselves supervised.
4. Who should I surround myself with?
The people with whom you shall compass determine the success of your ideas.
When I was traveling on the road to a rodeo to another, I learned the importance of keeping good company. I did not have to spend too much kilometers in the truck with someone who had a bad attitude before realizing how bad it was for me.
When things get tough, you want edifying people, trustworthy and passionate about their work.
Related: Why five people around you are key to your success
5. How will I develop my network?
Your network will become the most valuable thing you take with you every day. People who have gone to school with you, friends you have known since childhood, or someone you met last week can all benefit you in one way or another.
I have a unique network of people I know in the world of rodeo. In 2006, while I was traveling for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, I met a group of Brazilian cowboys who happened to be among men of the smartest business I have ever met. Then, the computer has a lot of business in Brazil because of this cowboy connection.
You never know how the people you meet might one day influence your career.
6. What can I offer employees besides money?
Find trustworthy people and workers has value only if you offer the same type of relationship. I always aim to offer people a job that I think they will be just as beneficial as my business.
When I chose to create a company in Spokane, I knew that I could offer to my employees more than just a paycheck. I sold them on the beauty of the interior Northwest and the many benefits that this city has to offer. Beyond that, I knew I could give them opportunities they could never get in a highly competitive environment. The experience that a person can acquire by being part of a startup is undeniable.
7. How can I benefit the community?
I learned that the contribution is equal to the compensation. The more you do and bring to the community, the more the community will give to your business. If you bring jobs and the opportunity for people to have successful careers in your community, you will start to see tax incentives, developers willing to offer you rent offers or other benefits.
This is true in business and in life – the more you give, the more you get back.
So, are you ready to shoot?
My motto has always been: “Fire. Ready. Goal.”
The truth about starting a business is that if you have confidence in your idea and you believe without doubt, success is in your hands.
When you have an idea, act quickly. You pull starting to talk to investors, by obtaining information from potential customers and building a prototype. You prepare by analyzing the collected data and refining ideas. A smart entrepreneur learns from mistakes, taking what is good and improving what is not. You can feel confident enough to aim.
For some people, the goal becomes difficult; the product could still be improved and you will never have enough data to be absolutely certain. This step requires some blind faith and a serious addiction to your instincts.
But if you are able to answer the questions above, your instincts will lead you in the right direction.
Related: 4 ways your business benefits of giving back