Five Habits to Help You Start: remember the “A” words

by William Keyser (aka The Startup Owl), Managing Director of Venture Founders LLC

Are you plunging headfirst into your business startup because you know no other way? Feel you have no choice? That’s the way it is.

I suggest you squeeze your priorities and fit in one other process. Take a deep breath and reflect on these five “A” words about your business values, or your way of being in business—both now and later.

We are schooled in the externally valued 3 “Rs”: Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmatic. Now you are a big person, I would add a fourth “R”: Reflection, a internal activity. This fourth “R” is what the following five “A” words are all about.

Avowing: Openly define your larger purpose to yourself and others—before you start
writing a business plan. Consciously know and share your beliefs and values. Prepare
yourself and others involved in the startup so that these beliefs and values will impact the
business and the way it is conducted. The benefits include: enhancing your good feelings
about what you are doing; creating a clearer business ethos and identity to drive your
business forward and make it stand out in the market; avoiding practices that could lead to trouble with colleagues, customers and others involved in the business.

Attending: Observe and notice what’s going on around you. Be awake to what’s at stake.
Attend to the issues of importance: your family, your business environment, or the wider
world. Investigate all the resources available to you and behaviors, both yours and other
peoples’. Trust your intuition and those ‘little voices’, but be sure to make sense of the data you need to inform and drive the business as it changes. “I haven’t got time for that, I’ve got to get the wash out.” You’ve heard that haven’t you? You may even say it yourself. If you hear those words, hesitate a moment, attend to what might be important.

Allowing: Stay present. It’s easy to say and difficult to do, especially for an entrepreneur. The mind is full of things past and future, ringing bells and pressing for attention. If you keep those chattering monkeys at bay, you’ll find answers to problems coming from amazing quarters—often from places you’d least expect. When facing problems, listen quietly and remain open to potentiality, especially in tricky, vexing or querulous situations. Then solutions may appear as if from nowhere. Cultivate the art of possibility.

Acting: Yes, yes, entrepreneurs know all about action. They make things happen. But often the best business school thinking on decision making calls for careful analysis, data collection and logical problem-solving. Of course, this is wise, and yet you need to have trust that you can do it now—with conviction and a sense of urgency. Follow the flow, expeditiously. If you delay and decide only when you have what you think are all the facts, you may find out that what you assumed was hard data, was only opinion.

Affirming: Have the courage to be honest with yourself and others. Have the confidence
to assert your convictions positively. Be prepared to stand for the beliefs and values that
you declared before you started the. This may mean admitting that an action was wrong.
How many times have you had an encounter with a company representative that would
just not admit a mistake and continued to defend his position with, “it’s company

These five “A” words should give you great impetus and also save you a lot of pain as your business lifts off and sustains your original dream. Put them on a card in front of your computer screen, to remind yourself.

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