The following is an edited excerpt from The Entrepreneur’s Framework: How Businesses Are Adapting in the New Economy by Joshua H. Davidson.
Let’s say you want to get good at basketball.
You decide to head out to the courts and get in some practice on your free throws and layups. While mastering those moves may be what appeals to you the most initially, it’s not the very first thing you need to work on.
No, the first thing that you actually need to learn is how the sport of basketball works. You need to build up your basketball IQ. You’ll never get good at free throws and layups until you understand the fundamental events in the game that lead to them.
However, even after mastering the fundamentals, you don’t jump right into free throws and layups. Not yet. What you should do is start focusing on the essentials of the game, the most straightforward mechanisms that allow you to play the sport. Dribbling. Passing. Proper shooting techniques. You continue to practice these daily, every minute on the minute, until eventually, it becomes second nature to you.
You apply this same strategy to the moves that originally attracted you to the sport — yes, your free throws and layups — while learning and perfecting the complex pieces of the game.
Sure, layups and free throws are what interested you initially. But by this point, if you’re still in the game, it is because you’ve caught the bug. You want to become better. You want to join a team and actually compete against others. You’ve only just begun the journey to learning how to play basketball. Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals of the game, you can begin to understand how to become masterful at the game, and therefore how to win. The layups and the free throws are now in your bag of tools.
Entrepreneurship is no different.
I’ve seen countless first-time entrepreneurs jump into this game, without first taking the time to learn how the game works. I’ve also seen entrepreneurs who have, against all odds, seen short-term success but fail to grow or last because they never took the time to educate themselves on the rules of this game.
I’ve also seen too many entrepreneurs quickly become complacent with the tools at their disposal, without ever taking the time to learn how to connect those tools to a bigger strategy. Once they’ve found a formula they’re comfortable with, they never discover the new ways they can play the game.
Masterful basketball players think of the game more like a chess match than just an athletic contest between two different teams. If you want to be the best on the court, you learn about defensive and offensive strategies, what a 1–3–1 formation is, which position is responsible for what, when to foul, when not to foul, proper usage of timeouts, the history of the sport.. .the list goes on and on.
You also learn about yourself as a player. You fine-tune your fitness, your meals, your macro-nutrients, your sleeping patterns, all to give yourself that competitive advantage.
You continue to learn and practice. You continue to train, trying to find that edge. You watch tapes of your competition, trying to find weaknesses to exploit.
Over time, you start to realize that you’re not the only one who’s hungry.
Your teammates, your coaches, and your competitors all feel the same, work the same, and focus on the same. You use this as motivation to work even harder, faster, better.
Not everyone can be a professional basketball player. There are certain things you cannot build, such as athleticism, size, and natural raw talent.
Entrepreneurship, for better and for worse, doesn’t create such a physical barrier for inclusion. This creates the illusion that anyone with a good idea can make it in this game. But there is a reason why so few of them do.
There are thousands of individuals out there who shoot tremendous free throws or make decent layups time after time. But you don’t see them playing professional basketball, do you? It takes so much more than just being good at one small part of a complex game. It requires a holistic understanding of all of the parts of the game that you’re playing and how to put them all together to be successful.
The same is true if you want to win big in entrepreneurship.
You need to learn the fundamentals, the strategies, and the rules of navigating through the New Economy. Once you have that understanding, you can then start practicing the plays.
You also, perhaps most importantly, need to learn the “why” in yourself. What I mean about the “why” is, what are you doing besides being an entrepreneur? Entrepreneurs who have found their “why” will not tell you that their chief motivation is “entrepreneurship” or “making money.” They may tell you that they want to provide clean drinking water to people who didn’t previously have access. They may tell you that they started a YouTube channel to educate people on their finances, to help others avoid making the financial mistakes they once made themselves. Your “why” is whatever mission you want to fulfill, and if you need to start it yourself, entrepreneurship is the vehicle to get there.
Once you understand the “why”, you’ll be able to understand the “how.”
This is where you begin diving deeper into more complex, advanced strategies in order to win the game. You’ll learn how it relates to all of the following pieces that make up The Entrepreneur’s Framework: self-awareness, empathy, leadership, short-term and long-term thinking, economics, operations, and purpose.
To learn more about how to succeed as an entrepreneur in the New Economy, pick up The Entrepreneur’s Framework: How Businesses Are Adapting in the New Economy by Joshua H. Davidson.