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The Single Worst Thing You Can Do As An Entrepreneur

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Recently, my wife and I were reminiscing about the TV shows we watched when we were kids.

We started talking about shows like Laverne & Shirley, The Monkees, and Happy Days.

We thought it would be fun to watch these shows with our kids, so we went on Netflix and rented the first season of each of them.

The shows brought back a lot of great memories. Particularly Happy Days...as The Fonz is one of the great TV characters of all time.

One of the Fonz's lines really struck me. As you may remember, the Fonz used the phrase "Sit on it" to essentially tell others to "buzz off."

It's a pretty funny phrase when you think about it -- sit on it -- as it's not really that derogatory.

But, it turns out that in entrepreneurship, it is one of the most derogatory phrases you can possibly use.

Let me give you an example. The other day, I spoke to an entrepreneur (let's call him Joe) with a neat idea. But there's no possible way Joe's going to be successful.

Why?

Because I met someone with the same idea two years ago at an angel network meeting. And that entrepreneur raised money for the idea and has been working on it and improving it every day since then.

So, even if Joe is the better product developer, marketer, leader, etc. he can't succeed. Since his competitor now has a 2-year advantage over him.

The WORST thing you can do as an entrepreneur is to "sit on it" or sit on your ideas. Rather, you must act on them. If not, someone else will. There are simply too many other entrepreneurs out there.

The saying "the richest place in the world is the graveyard" is really applicable here. Why is it the graveyard? Because that's where the billions of ideas go that were in the heads of entrepreneurs who never acted on them.

If you have an idea for a new business, you must take the first step. Or you really can't call yourself an entrepreneur -- you're just a "dreamer." Sorry to be so blunt about this; but it's the truth.

So take the first step.

I believe the first step is to develop your business plan. The business planning process forces you to really think through your idea, prove it's viable (or not), and create an action plan for transforming your idea into reality starting now (not later).

So, if you've been sitting on an idea, STOP. Take action now. Don't let Fonzie say "sit on it" to you.


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Annette Colbert-Latham says

Thanks for the inspiration, I share this all of the time. A friend of mine, tells me you must act as if you can't fail, and walk on water.
Posted at 1:57 pm
Dave Lavinsky says

You're welcome Annette. Agreed...you have to have the mindset that you will succeed, and then constantly take action so that you do succeed!
Posted at 3:34 pm
Benson says

When you receive an idea, at least 1 million other people have the same idea. God provides the resources to the person who starts acting on it. If you do not act on the idea, you do NOT really believe in it.
Posted at 4:23 pm
Bill Inman says

Taking immediate action is critical. Rarely does everything go exactly according to the 'perfect' plan. It takes action to discover the right path/business model. Good post.
Posted at 4:50 pm
Laureen Rwatirera says

This is sooo true! I couldn't agree more! We dont hear this often enough.....Thanks for the article!
Posted at 5:22 pm
Victor Kacalek says

Why didn't I write this (a long time ago)? I could have, ya know .....
Posted at 7:19 pm
Mesmin Niangne says

I have an idea of invention. How do I go about protecting it with no money in my wallet? then How can I go about developing it? Thank you for your assistance.
Posted at 7:23 pm
Reginald says

Great article David. I could not agree with you more. I have started working on my idea 2 years ago and have finally gotten it ready for the public. I am so excited.
Posted at 7:38 pm
Dave Keillor says

There are situations where you can be too far out front. If your product is too far out of the main stream, you may be described by the old saying, "The pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs." The post WWII independent car makers are a good example. In a number of cases, their styling and mechanical innovations were way ahead of the curve -- so far that it put their products to far out of the main stream. Competition can be a good thing if it validates your product.
Posted at 7:51 pm
Chris says

Mesmin, you might be able to use a poor mans copyright. Write it out, then mail it to yourself. Of course, don't open the envelope. There might be other things you need to do, registered mail for what not.
Posted at 9:51 am
brent says

Dave - great point, and I personally have made the mistake of being ahead of the market - it hurts. But at the same time, evaluating whether or not you are ahead of the market is one of the things you look at in the business plan, so Dave's advice not 'sit on it' and get your biz plan done still applies.
Posted at 12:53 pm
Josh R says

Hi my name is Josh and I love your blog. But I have a question, I all so have a great business idea that has been burning in my Heart and my mind. The question that I have is whats the first step? I put togeather a great power point presentation, and thats about all i have. I know that I need a business plan but is there ant way for me to raise money to get started. Thanks I look foward to speaking with you through e-mail thanks have a great day.
Posted at 4:51 am
Robin Meakin says

Approach a company you can work with in-house, and obtain an agreement that you will retain some ownership over the IP rights once you have worked for them developing the plan together. Keeps everyone working as a team and pools real expertise!
Posted at 11:37 am
Christina says

Excellent Post - Thanks for the inspiration!
Posted at 10:14 am
charmelle says

Great article thank you for the inspiration
Posted at 9:36 pm
Susan says

I now have two restaurant business plans to write. Two weeks ago, I bought the business plan module to write a more effective business plan for a friend who is buying a bar and grill, and today I find out that our senior community is building the dining room and kitchen THIS SUMMER. Now I've got the tools to write both plans. One for an existing restaurant and one for a brand new "restaurant" that will serve the most important people in our community! I should be working with GrowThink more, I think!
Posted at 10:41 pm

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