If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then you only need to do one thing: Invent, develop, and market a product or service that customers really need or want. There are, however, a few caveats:
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It has to be an innovative solution to an important problem and far better, cheaper, or easier to use than competitive solutions.
You must be able to make enough money doing it to justify the investment in time and capital.
You have to have a laser-like focus on making all that happen.
That's all way easier said than done, I know. One of the reasons for that, and a big issue that holds most people back, is that last part, the need to have a "laser-like focus." The good news is it also happens to be the easiest hurdle to overcome because it's entirely within your control.
To that end, here are 10 things you absolutely need to quit doing right now if you want to make it as an entrepreneur:
You live online. Wasting time on Facebook. Playing with apps. Emailing and texting. Buying every stupid little gadget ever imagined. You quit doing all that, you'll have more time to actually get things done than you know what to do with.
You look for a lottery ticket. If you're after an easy way out, a quick fix, a silver bullet, an overnight viral success, I can tell you one thing for sure. You won't find it. Ever. That's just not how this sort of thing works.
You're building your "personal brand." If you're in the self-help genre and you want to be the next Tony Robbins or Tim Ferris, then promote yourself. Be my guest. Unless you are the product, focus on the product and its customers, not you.
You play small ball. Successful entrepreneurs don't do things halfway or half-assed. Focus on one thing, go all in, get it done, and do it right. What about serial entrepreneurs? Most people who call themselves that aren't. Also, the key word is serial, not parallel.
You network randomly. Relationships are critical to business success. Networking and schmoozing are key to forming relationships. But randomly connecting with thousands of strangers online won't help one bit. Be focused about it. And remember: one real, reliable relationship in the real world is worth a thousand online connections.
You troll for Twitter followers. If you're Ashton Kutcher or Kim Kardashian, that's great. Otherwise, it's nothing but a distraction--a complete and total waste of time.
You want stuff. Hopes and dreams are great, but one thing that successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they're lean and mean. They're willing to sacrifice. That's what helps to keep them focused. Necessity is the mother of invention. Wanting and owning lots of stuff is not.
You ask people how they can help you. Instead, ask them how you can help them. Believe it or not, that's the door opener for opportunity. WIIFM (What's In It For Me) isn't really about you, it's about understanding the motivation of the other person.
You have useless ideas. Yes, I know the story of 3M's Post-It Notes. It was an accident. Whatever. If you're paid to do pure research, that's great. Otherwise, start with a problem or a need, not a solution or an invention. Mark Zuckerberg wanted to rate the looks of female classmates. Shallow as that may be, it had a purpose.
You search for inspiration and positive reinforcement. If you're lost, that's fine. That's a very good way to find something. When you do, just make sure you're passionate about it. If not, keep looking. But if you have a low tolerance for obstacles and challenges, that's not a good sign. It helps if you're a self-driven problem solver, as opposed to a whiner who needs a lot of handholding.
And one more thing: Stop trying to be more productive. Our obsession with personal productivity is, ironically, one of the biggest timewasters ever. The only productivity tips you need are on this page. If doing away with any of that stuff amounts to a big sacrifice, join the club. That's just how being an entrepreneur works.
This column originally appeared on Inc.com.
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