The road to successful entrepreneurship is often a long and winding road. The problem with this is that many young entrepreneurs can feel like they don’t know which steps to take first…or in which direction. Without authoritative guidance or clear direction, any endeavor – business, personal, interpersonal – feels uncertain at best.
But here’s one encouraging thing about becoming an entrepreneur. Many people have found success in an unconventional way.
If you are in the early stages of entrepreneurship, you may encounter setbacks or adversity on your path to success. That is normal. Don’t let that stop you.
Advertiser Alan Sussman is an example of someone who took a challenging and unconventional path to success. Below are four of the strategies that got him there. Embrace these strategies as you embark on your unconventional path, and rest assured that you are in good company.
1. Turn fear into fuel.
Sussman ran away from an abusive home at 14. As might be expected, he lived in a state of dread. However, Sussman chose to capitalize on his fears. Rather than give in, he used fear as fuel to build resilience, determination, and independence.
Sussman is in good company when it comes to channeling fear as a success motivator. Popular author JK Rowling of Harry Potter Fame is known for her story of overcoming adversity. Today she is one of the most successful authors in history. Rowling is an enterprising writer considering how her books have fueled a film franchise and numerous products.
However, by the time Rowling began writing her world-famous books, she was between her jobs and a living on government funds. In her Speech at HarvardRowling told listeners that she credited her success as a writer to recognizing her own worst fears and building her life on what she called “solid foundations” to hit rock bottom.
Fear is often the best fuel for creativity. Once you realize that your fears have no power, you are freed to move forward to greater creativity and innovation.
2. Education is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Sussman is also one of a surprising number of college dropout entrepreneurs. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Geffen Records’ and DreamWorks Studios’ David Geffen are in the same boat. The two highly successful entrepreneurs also decided to drop out of their studies and forego studying. Instead, they used their personal experiences, intellect and creativity to build highly successful businesses.
For some, formal education is a wonderful tool and leads to success. However, if you’re not sure whether an apprenticeship is the right decision for you, don’t worry about giving up a degree.
Take the time to discover your interests and passions. Use this as a starting point. Modern technology has made it possible to learn a trade without sitting in a classroom or spending thousands of dollars on a college degree. Embrace opportunities that interest you and build connections along the way.
3. Build your business around your strengths and interests.
Long before Sussman found his way into advertising, he took the time to explore his talents and the things that really interested him. After dropping out of college, Sussman even tried skydiving and worked in the music industry. While working on promotional jingles, he finally discovered his passion for marketing.
Self-discovery is an important and necessary part of any entrepreneur’s development.
All too often we dive into an area or come up with an idea that doesn’t perfectly match our skills or passions. Thinking critically about what you enjoy doing and how you excel can help guide your career. That said, it depends on having enough confidence and flexibility to acknowledge when something isn’t a perfect fit and willing to adapt.
4. Boldly drives the day forward…passively doesn’t sell.
Most of us are familiar with the iconic, rounded corners of Apple products. But did you know that this design change was one of Steve Jobs’ many specific, clever, and innovative preferences? He pushed for the rounded corners and nowadays this design has become synonymous with the Apple brand. You will hardly find a more iconic technical design. And Jobs was another college dropout! Of course, Jobs was known for being pushy…to put it mildly.
When it comes down to it, at least one of every entrepreneur’s priorities should be pushing the envelope. That means they will inevitably face resistance. Whenever you embark on a new path or generate a new idea, you know in advance that to succeed you need to be brave. Passivity gets you nowhere.
Creativity is at the core of any successful business and also at the core of overcoming challenges. When you encounter difficulties in your life, be it in your career or in your personal life, approach the problems creatively.
If you’ve decided to take the unconventional route, remember that resistance is inevitable, but creativity is essential. Take notes from the leaders in your field, follow what works for you, and remember that no two paths are the same.