THE INC. LIFE

What Do Successful Entrepreneurs Have In Common? They Give Up These 11 Things

It’s a long, uncertain road to entrepreneurial success, and you won’t get there unless you stop doing these things

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BY Annabel Acton - 10 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The promise of entrepreneurship is enormous. Create something you love, with people you love being around and make millions in a few years? It's no wonder 63% of Millennials want to star their own business. Of course, it rarely plays out that way, as Silicon Valley unicorns are celebrated disproportionately. The reality for most entrepreneurs is a lot of hard work, peaks, troughs and dizzying levels of tenacity. To make it as an entrepreneur, these are the critical things that you'll need to give up.

1. Let Go of Perfectionist Tendencies

Agonizing over something until it's perfect and ready to launch not only slows down progress, it also means you can be blind or resistant to necessary changes once you've launched; as it's easy to become too welded to your 'perfect' version. Launch in beta. And live there too.

2. Let Go of Your Bubble

Seeking outside feedback is critical, and good entrepreneurs make a habit of it. Ask for outside input early and often. And make sure it's from a wide array of people. Building a product or service because you and your friends like it is not a good enough reason. Your Lyft driver, your hairdresser or your baby sitter are all market research waiting to happen.

3. Let Go of Your Ego

You are not your work. If it fails, it doesn't mean you are a failure. Some things you thought would not work well, will work tremendously well. Others you thought would skyrocket, will inexplicably flop. These are valuable lessons. Not an indictment on your character.

4. Let Go of Playing It Safe

No-one is waiting around for your product to launch. They already have too much on their plate and are bombarded by a myriad of messages every minute. To stand out, you can't play it safe. Swing big and think about what it would take to wake people up from their sleepwalking. 

5. Let Go of Pleasing Everybody

Polarity is a good thing. If you isolate and offend some people, you will have an equally emboldened group of loyal supporters, who love what you're doing. The worst possible outcome is vanilla. Don't be vanilla.

6. Let Go of Rigid Expectations

Successful entrepreneurs must be open to alternatives they may never have envisaged. This is all part of pivoting, and involves swallowing your pride around things you might have been determined to stick with, that don't end up serving you well. Let go of what it 'should' look like, or you'll risk seeing opportunities right there in front of you.

7. Let Go of Reactionary Thinking

Peaks and troughs are part of startup life. You have to learn to roll with the punches and not over-react to every hurdle or hiccup that comes your way. Be clear on your bigger vision, and commit to that unwaveringly. Let that be your guide when times get tough.

8. Let Go of Benchmarking

If you try to benchmark yourself to other founders and their successes, or your friends with regular jobs, you will very quickly come undone. There is no set path for startups, some rise quickly, some rise slowly, and most of them fail. Keep focused on why you do what you do.

9. Let Go of Seriousness

Adding a little lightness, play and adventure to your everyday work will make the time spent toiling away more pleasant. But most importantly, it will also give you a competitive edge by making you fresh, energized and open to more pointed insights and unusual ideas.

10. Let Go of Going It Alone

Ask for help when you need it, not once the moment has passed. Keep good friends and trusted founders from outside the office close to you, so you have an outlet where you can truly tell it like it is. Turn to them openly, honestly and frequently and invite them to do the same to you. No-one had all the answers, and those that come together solve their problems faster.

11. Let Go of Working Insane Hours

Yes there's a lot to get done, but you are no good to anybody if you burn yourself into the ground. Make taking are of yourself a priority. Fuel up on good food, solid sleep and great people. Entrepreneurs have to be prepared for the long-game.