Successful Entrepreneurs Know Less Than You Think

Quick and AgileMeet Chad

Chad is a 31-year old sales manager with an MBA. He’s fairly successful, but wants to start his own business.

He shows me his 50-page business plan that outlines his new-media marketing idea. He’s been working on it for 8 months (the plan, that is), and it’s a pretty in-depth document. He even has it in a nice leather-bound binder.

Ooo… Fancy…

Meet Nan-in

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

[From 101 Zen Stories compilation and Collection of Stone and Sand]

Back to Chad

As we begin to talk, he explains why his company will take the market by storm, and turn the industry on its head. He’s been in the corporate world long enough to understand how business works, and now he’s going to be the next Web 2.0 Joe Internet-Millionaire.

I don’t have the heart to bet him a gentleman’s wager of a dollar, that he’s wrong. That he’ll never get it off the ground.

He wouldn’t listen anyway, his cup is too full.

Forget What You Know — Especially the BS

There are lots of differences between a home-based entrepreneur and big business. My favorite is the agility. Move quickly, listen and learn as you go, shift gears as needed — high speed, low drag.

No committees, no huge documents that are never read, no 4-levels of red tape to approve a new idea.

Just agile planning, and action.

But this can be hard for some folks. They don’t like doing things a different way. They think like a corporate drone, rather than an entrepreneur. They think that all businesses should be launched and run according to Business Theory 101.

Frankly, I’ve found that those that don’t know much about business, but know their niche as well as they know themselves, are the best equipped for success as a home-based entrepreneur. It’s counterintuitive, but they have less to unlearn.

Their cup is empty, and ready to be filled with useful knowledge.