Human Capital

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’ve probably seen Shark Tank once or twice recently. If you’ve been living in a hole, or just live off Netflix, the concept is relatively simple. A contestant presents his or her idea to a panel of judges from varying successful backgrounds and the panel decides if the contestant’s business plan is worthy of an investment. It’s not particularly groundbreaking, but there’s a reason shows like this are so popular. It’s because people around the world share the same dream of success.

There are very few original ideas out there, and even less that make sense as a long-term investment.  The media puts success stories on a pedestal so people like you and me see the Uber phenomenon or Snuggie sensation and think, “Hey! I can do that!” But for every great Cinderella story, there are thousands of hard working entrepreneurs that don’t make the grade. For most people, ideas don’t pay the bills.

Every successful business owner shares similar qualities: determination, patience, endurance, courage and adaptability - among others. With every idea comes a level of innovation, but a owning a business isn’t about being the first, it’s about being the best.

People who do well are the ones who stick with their dream, no matter what hurdles they come up against. Starting a business usually involves copping a lot of criticism, not only from outsiders but from close family and friends. People won’t understand your message, they won’t believe you can achieve, and they’ll make you doubt yourself. The key is to keep selling it. You have to transfer your self-belief to the people around you. And quitting is not an option. An entrepreneur can’t be afraid to have a go, no matter what the critics say. There has never been a successful businessperson who hasn’t made a mistake; I myself have made plenty of them! It’s the preparedness to make those mistakes, and the readiness to learn from them that builds success.

Transforming an idea into a business isn’t just about the right attitude and having the dedication to make it work. Businesses, both start-ups and otherwise, need capital to operate. The importance of money is both indispensable and non-negotiable, no matter what your business goals are. But there is another resource that’s irreplaceable when it comes to transforming an idea into a business.  It’s what I like to call human capital, or people investment.

A good business can’t operate with one person alone. Different people have different strengths and weaknesses, and it is the dynamic of a well constructed team that makes all the difference. As with any idea, the original light bulb is important, but the incubation process is what defines its viability. In my company, I find that the interaction, experience, beliefs and attitude of my extended are what transform an “ah-ha” moment into something that’s actually conceivable. 

People investment isn’t just about cultivating a great environment; it’s about finding people who have been there and done that to mentor the process. Any entrepreneur who wants to transform an idea into a lucrative reality has to have an advisor who will ask the tough questions. Too many people think they can do it all on their own, and this is where most inexperienced entrepreneurs make their first mistake. Think about the people you know who spend $200,000 to buy a business and end up earning $50,000 doing a job. That’s the difference advice can make. It’s an investment to find out what your idea is worth. What’s $1,000 in comparison to years of potential waste? We all know that nothing is for free, so make your first investment one that will not only count today but every day on the road ahead.

In business, execution is everything. An idea might be one that can change the world, improve the way we live, or give us a whole new outlook on how we see our future. But it is the way in which an idea is brought to fruition that gives people the real opportunity to see its potential. Dreams are often bigger than reality, but it’s reality that shapes the way we build our success.