Ready. Fire! Aim.

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Ask any entrepreneurial wannabe what’s holding them back and they’ll say, “I’m just not sure if I have everything I need.”

Ask any successful entrepreneur to name the key to their success and they’ll say, “Moving forward without having everything I needed.”

There are two immutable laws when it comes to starting a business or any new venture. The first neatly packages a box for comfortable perfection. The second… well, let’s talk about the first law first.

The First Immutable Law of Every Successful Entrepreneur: “Never proceed without a plan.”

This goes without saying. How many times have you heard the adage “failing to plan is planning to fail”? You may admire those who can think on their feet, speak off the cuff, or spout things off the top of their head.

While you no doubt appreciate improvisation just as much as everybody else, here’s a secret:

You know those improv groups you love to see on TV? Their ability to ad-lib impresses you, right? You wonder, “How can they do that so well?”

Here’s how: they plan it out.

It’s not like they script it. They most certainly are improvising. What appears to be a seamless riff from one player to another, though, is really a pre-arranged theme. They don’t know what the other player will say, but they understand that once a code word (or prop) is used, it signals a certain theme.

For example, the troupe collects a handful of random thoughts from the audience. They then sit in chairs. The first one acts like he’s driving. The rest knows this is the “family vacation” schtick. And on it goes.

They planned. Before they went on stage, they had it all mapped out.

In a similar fashion, all successful entrepreneurs have a solid plan before they start up. They know where they want to go, have a good idea on what they expect to need to get there, and have identified milestones to measure that success and more.

The Second Immutable Law of Every Successful Entrepreneur: “Nothing goes according to plan.”

This is the “and more” part at the end of the preceding paragraph.

No matter how precise you plan, how meticulous your methodology, how exact your detail, you can only be sure of one thing: it won’t work. Some unexpected variable, some freak act of nature, some minor miscalculation will send your best laid plans spinning into oblivion.

That’s where those milestones come in. They not only measure your success, but they provide a flashing indicator telling you it’s time to pivot.

Believe it or not, experienced entrepreneurs plan on this. Some call it “contingency.” Others call it a “midcourse correction.”

The bottom-line is no entrepreneur launches into a start-up phase without understanding something new and different may come out at the end.

I’ll give you a personal example. In 2009 I started something I called “FiduciaryNews.com.” At that time, only a few nerdy financial service providers understood the term “fiduciary,” let alone its importance to 401k plan sponsors.

My plan was to create a news site to help those corporate executives saddled with the burdensome responsibility of tending after their employees’ retirement savings. No one else was doing it. I was first to the finish line. Plan sponsors the world over would flock to me and my firm asking for much needed advice.

It was a beautiful plan.

In theory.

The reality was quite different. It was potential clients that read my articles, it was my competitors. And very soon it was regulators seeking to rein in the most egregious of those competitors.

Did FiduciaryNews.com therefore fail?

Not in a million years! In fact, after more than 1.1 million pages, a White House citation in support of a major national policy change, and dozens of exclusive interviews with leading figures, some might look at FiduciaryNews.com and call it an unqualified success. (FYI: I’m not. Can you guess why?)

This is just a typical “Lemons to Lemonade” story. Entrepreneurs experience this phenomenon all the time. Why? Because they actively seek failure.

OK, let me rephrase that. Entrepreneurs actively seek progress, the coming thing, the next generation. Along the way, they’re willing to endure any failure that tries to trip them up.

In fact, to a successful entrepreneur, failure merely represents a milepost saying “time to pivot.” In fact, what you might call a “failure,” an entrepreneur will call a “temporary setback.” A few tweaks here, some minor adjustments there, and – voilà! – the result yields something far greater than originally planned.

Entrepreneurs have a natural advantage. Being overly energetic, they have a bias towards action. They spend the least amount of time necessary to get ready, then they’ll fire. Only after they assess the results of that first shot will they take a moment to aim.

Sometimes they get lucky and hit a bullseye on the first round. Sometimes it takes a thousand rounds (just ask Edison). Either way is fine with them.

Do you see yourself as ordinary? Do you worry you don’t have the stamina – the drive – to follow the route of the entrepreneur? Do you feel you’ll never get the chance to do something truly extraordinary?

Then this will be the most important thing you read in a long time.

Spoiler alert: Entrepreneurs hit it out of the park more often than most people only because entrepreneurs take more swings of the bat. In fact, your batting average might be no less as good as that of a successful entrepreneur. You just don’t know it because you haven’t stepped up to the plate often enough.

Here’s the money quote: Very rarely does the opportunity arise for an ordinary person to make an extraordinary contribution.

This is one of those times.

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