Are you a business accelerator?

Last week I was doing a little housekeeping of the computer kind – creating folders, organizing or deleting old files, disk defrag (yes I’m a nerd). I had the opportunity to open the original business plan I wrote in early 2009 for GoForth Institute (then called Small Business Innovation Centres, or SBIC). At the time, I was still a professor teaching entrepreneurship and hadn’t committed to leaving my cushy job yet to pursue my grand idea. I was still in dream mode.

Looking at that original business plan two years later, what struck me was how little the company I founded and run today resembles the plan. My plan for SBIC was a series of retail, street-level “innovation centres” across Canada where small business owners would find classroom-based education and small business training, face-to-face counselling, networking opportunities and access to microfinance.

Great in theory. Until you run pro-forma financials and discover your chances of ever being profitable are zero. End of that business model!

Fast-forward two years. Now, we have the leading online education program for entrepreneurs in Canada (no street level storefront for us), our education is delivered in partnership with the federal government and strategic partners (who provide the face-to-face counselling and access to microfinance functions), and because we’re online, our education can reach entrepreneurs in every corner of Canada (something the original SBIC concept couldn’t).

What’s the point of this post, you ask? How come the business I run today isn’t anything like the one I planned? The simple answer: I wasn’t married to the original concept. My original business model sucked, actually. It wouldn’t have worked. But I was willing to start and to accept the very real possibility of failure.

Here’s how to be a business accelerator

  1. Be willing to follow your nose to cashflow, wherever it might be.
  2. Be flexible and adaptable – don’t stay married to your ideas if they are not producing results.
  3. Be willing to admit defeat – move on knowing that the right business model will be discovered eventually; hopefully in your lifetime!
  4. Be positive.
  5. Be proud – only one idea out of every 2,000 business ideas is ever acted upon – if you’re an entrepreneur you’ve already taken action. And that’s a good thing. The trick now is to continue to accelerate your success, not prevent it.
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