It was a beautiful spring morning in Oklahoma as I climbed into the small Cessna aircraft with my flight instructor. I was midway through getting a pilot’s license and this lesson would be spent practicing stalls and turns around a point. After 45 minutes of grinding around the skies, I was instructed to return to the small suburban airport and land. I was anticipating, with a certain amount of excitement and fear, what was to come next. My instructor got out of the plane and stated, in a nonchalant manner, that he was going to get a Coke and I should complete a few touch-and-goes while he was relieving his thirst. I could tell he was trying to bolster my confidence by making it sound like it was no big deal.
This was it, the moment I had both anticipated and dreaded; my first solo! Taxiing the aircraft back to the start point with only me in the cabin was a new experience. After all, my destiny was truly in my hands. It occurred there was no one to bail me out if I did something really dumb.
Advancing the throttle, I executed a normal takeoff, proceeded around the pattern and made a textbook touch-and-go. I repeated this two more times before completing my final approach with a perfect landing. I have to admit I was aided by beautiful weather, no other aircraft traffic and no cross winds to distract me. Nevertheless, I couldn’t hold back a sense of pride as I secured the plane and swaggered back to the office to meet up with my instructor and his congratulations.
It has been many years since that spring morning in Oklahoma. Many other successful flights followed as well as a career as an entrepreneur. Numbers of businesses were started, some more successful than others. I have always looked back on that first solo experience and appreciated the business lessons that it taught me.
Desire– I really wanted to fly an airplane and if you want to start up a successful business you have to have the desire and passion to do so. Be prepared to work and follow-through when the tough times come as they most certainly will.
Preparation- I didn’t just jump in an airplane and decide to go for a flight on a whim. I spent months preparing, studying and developing the necessary skills. The same thing is true with business; whatever specialized knowledge or skill that is required for your area you will need to acquire. The truth is that the Internet allows you to do most of your preparation in front of your computer.
Planning and Market-research- I had to assess whether or not I stood a favorable chance of becoming a pilot. Did I possess what it took to succeed? You need to determine, in advance, if there is a need for your business. Does anybody want to buy what it is you want to sell? You find that out by asking questions; market-research.
Launch at 100%- When you start, give it your all; no dipping your toe in to test the water.You can cruise an airplane at 60% power but, it takes full throttle to get off the ground! You may go into autopilot later but for now it’s “pedal to the metal”.
Begin with the end in mind– When I took off on that first solo flight I had to believe that I was going to get the plane back on the ground in one piece. The same is true in business, have the end result in mind before you ever start.
Listen to your environment– When you fly an airplane you are more off course and you are on; you are constantly correcting. The same thing is true of business; the marketplace will dictate how you need to change. You just need to be attuned to it.
Be willing to take a risk– When I took off that day, I assumed a certain amount of risk, and after all, bad things could have happened. A startup business involves risk, but, it’s not a crazy risk like taking a nap in the middle of the freeway! If you’ve done your preparation and have acquired the necessary skills then the risks you take are manageable.
A final note on the economy– Is now a good time to start a business? After all, it’s pretty crazy out there! You can make a lot of money running a business when things are stable. When things are chaotic however, you can make a fortune! During the French Revolution, Robespierre stated, “I lived for the days when the blood flowed in the streets!”Translation; chaos breeds great opportunity in business if you have the right product or service. Find out what people need to have in a down market and give it to them; they will chase you down to buy!
Do your homework and have a great flight!
Dennis Whitlock has been a business owner for nearly 20 years. In the process of offering employment to literally hundreds of individuals, he has witnessed, firsthand, the key elements of successful job searches. If the economy has you uncertain as to your career future, you may wish to consider a radically new and proven approach to finding a job