As an adviser to new businesses, I’m a strong believer that no one succeeds alone in business.
Yet I find that many entrepreneurs struggle and fail with the transition from personally developing an innovative new idea to building all the relationships necessary to transform their idea into a successful business. These relationships include investors, an operational team, and customers.
I found that challenge confirmed and amplified in an inspirational new book, No One Succeeds Alone: Learn Everything You Can From Everyone You Can, by Robert Reffkin, which chronicles his own ups and downs through many companies, to success at real estate platform Compass.
He credits his own rise to this strategy, and I certainly agree with his key guidelines on how to get there:
1. Dream big — this inspires strong people to join you.
You won’t learn much from a small dream or an idea that has minimal risk, and you won’t inspire the people you need to help you. Thinking small won’t stir their passion, create meaning, or spur creative thinking. Strong people love an “impossible” challenge with a large opportunity.
2. Move fast — speed highlights energy and impact.
Moving fast is about going from not knowing to knowing as quickly as possible, and everyone loves to maximize this learning. The world around you is moving faster and faster these days, and not moving fast likely means you are not keeping up with the people and customers you need to succeed.
3. Learn from reality — test new ideas and get feedback.
Learning from reality takes humility, courage, and really listening to others, but it allow you to change quickly for the better, and you will enjoy the journey, as well as the destination. Study what has come before, capture what works right now, and ask customers what they want in the future.
4. Be solutions-driven — to drive success and learning.
Ideas and problems are the opportunity, but collaboration with the right people gives you the energy to achieve great results. This will give you the confidence to surface breakthrough ideas, proactively attack impossible challenges, and lead others to leverage what you and your collaborators have learned.
5. Obsess on opportunities to improve customers’ lives.
The more you listen to other people about opportunities, the more you will see, and the quicker your business will be responding. If you want to do something more meaningful with your life, find a passion for a customer-driven higher purpose, such as a social need or improving the environment.
6. Build relationships with respect and without ego.
Check your ego at the door, since outsize egos make trust and teamwork nearly impossible. Inspire everyone you interact with today to feel like they want to work with you again tomorrow and learn more from you. Give credit and thanks freely, knowing you will be repaid handsomely in other ways.
7. Play to your strengths, and seek strengths in others.
Don’t waste time trying to fix or hide all your imperfections. Spend the time capitalizing on the strengths of others on your team, and focusing on your own strengths, to maximize results and minimize time spent. Trying to be the best at everything that needs to be done isn’t fun and doesn’t work.
8. Bounce back from every failure with passion.
The truest test of character is not how you act when things are going great — it’s what you do and how effectively you use other people to recover when you hit bottom. Many people are willing and able to help you stand even taller, if you show the resilience, learning, and grit to never stay down.
Steve Jobs is a famous example of someone who bounced back from failure. After his early forced resignation from Apple, Jobs learned to rely on the help of many others, and came back to make Apple one of the most successful companies of the past decades.
The real message here is that no matter how good and how determined you are, you can go only so far alone. Your biggest challenge in business is to find those complementary and supportive relationships that can amplify your passion and strengths, and take you to the next level. Together, anything is possible. Start today.