Reflections on ‘Startup of You’

Q: It’s well known that a business startup requires business expertise in marketing, finance and administration, among a number of other areas as well. But what I don’t hear is what a new business requires in terms of the personal implications, as well as the commitment. Is there such a thing as personal innovation for the individual in addition to business innovation?

A: Innovation, both personal and organizational, is the foundation for initiation, improvement, growth and success. Personal innovation is a way of life that energizes the individual’s aspirations for personal achievement as well as the organization’s ability to find and develop opportunities for growth and profitability.

It is essential at the beginning of a new venture to pause to reflect upon the personal as well as the organizational mission and values that will drive the venture. Each element of personal innovation is crucial, and no venture should start without addressing these critical issues: vision, community and character. These elements represent the foundation of “The Startup of You,” the entrepreneur.

The first element of The Startup of You is your personal vision, which is beyond an organizational vision of the business. A personal vision statement addresses your legacy and how you will make the world a better place. It has to be real and attainable, and should guide your personal efforts at all times. It is the answer to the question: “Where am I going and what do I want to achieve personally?”

The second element is community. Everyone has a number of communities and interacts with them on a regular basis. It is among them that opportunities can be found to develop as a contributing member of every community one touches as a valued partner in making a difference for the better. We should approach every community with the attitude not of “What’s in it for me?” but rather, “What’s in it for others?”

The third element is character. Elements such as honesty, trust and integrity are at the top of the list. Every personal startup should have these elements and others as well, which will identify one as a person who can be trusted to operate an ethical and moral business. That makes it a business people would patronize because of the customer experience.

One needs to have a personal plan as well as a business plan, one that guides efforts at becoming a better person and a force for a better community. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of wanting his children to be judged “not by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character.” What more can we ask than this?

SCORE offers free mentoring to clients in search of help in developing their organizations, whether as startups or existing business. Call 301-766-2043 for more information.