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Where is the Starting Line?

522817363_croppedI think the average Joe (or Jane) like us goes farther trying to hit singles and doubles than always swinging for home runs. I have been the guy with the “next great idea” and not had a clue what to do with it. Don’t read me wrong. I have been mostly successful during my years of being an entrepreneur, but it sure wasn’t easy or clear. There was no road map or trip planner. Nobody was there to help me, explain what I write in this book, and open my eyes to very basic things. I just plodded ahead, one step after another. Eyes open. What has to be done and how to do it can become very muddy. I have suffered and overcome my share of “founder flounder,” where there is a goal but no clear path. This book is about adding clarity to the process. It is about helping entrepreneurs find the starting line, then giving them a road map to follow.

As I evolved as a businessperson, I realized that there was more structure to starting and running a business than I realized. When I just winged it, it didn’t always end well, but when I sat down to make a logical plan, things turned out much better. The challenge was:

  1. Figuring out the plan using goals and logical processes
  2. Following the plan with discipline and dedication.

I learned that instead of just spending money creating features because I thought they would sell, asking customers if they actually wanted the features would save a lot of time and money. It sounds logical now, but this was a hard lesson. I built four successful businesses: one service-based (architecture), one asset-based (real estate development), a software-based company (aviation training), and a mixed service and product company (learning software and technology).

After selling the software companies, I “retired” and tried to start two physical product companies. I quickly realized that I didn’t know squat about that. It was a steep learning curve, and they failed before I figured it out. If I had to do it again, they wouldn’t fail.

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