Being a founder of a company is a tricky career path. Unlike the typical corporate-ladder structure, there is no roadmap telling you how to run a company. But I have learned that when the path is unknown, it is important to listen to your instincts. Follow this checklist to use your gut and become a better founder:
Burn your security blankets.
At the beginning, I sometimes got stuck on a project for too long, because I was too comfortable to admit it wouldn’t work. I ignored data right in front of me. After investing a lot of time, energy and capital, it’s only natural to become attached to a project or idea. You can even convince yourself that you’re doing well when you’re not. But when you get overly content, you’re not listening to your gut anymore; you’re not even listening to facts. Remain objective. Step back and look at the raw data. What is it telling you? You need passion to make something work, but you also need the intellect to cut bait when it isn’t working.
Break open the suggestion box.
Sometimes, having one person’s instinct in agreement with your own is the push you need to move an idea forward. On the other hand, a questioning voice can help you think differently and save you from a critical mistake. Steer your gut in the right direction by calling on trusted advisers when you need a second opinion.
Never betray your instincts.
An adviser may have more experience than you in some areas, but that doesn’t mean it’s applicable to every situation you’ll face when launching your business. Scrutinize each adviser’s point of view, background and areas of expertise against your own. Value others’ opinions and weigh them appropriately, but don’t take them as gospel. You’re the only keeper of your vision, and if the data and your intuition are backing it up, you’re probably right on track.
Escape a false sense of productivity.
While founding your own business, there are a million ideas and items that can sidetrack you. And it feels good to be busy. After all, busyness signals progress, right? Be careful: a false sense of productivity won’t get you anywhere. What’s more, juggling multiple tasks at once can cost up to 40 percent of your productive time. Keep your business, and your instincts, on track by setting big goals. Each day, I try to accomplish three smaller steps that are directly in service of my goals and avoid getting roped into projects and conversations that aren’t. Every day, I’m grateful I followed my gut and launched my company. In entrepreneurship, the risks are yours to bear, but so are the achievements. Make following your passions less scary by always looking to the data, keeping trusted advisers around, setting and celebrating goals and trusting the instincts that guided you in the first place.