There’s never a shortage of stories about entrepreneurship, whether it’s about the challenges faced by the growing number of women launching businesses or the latest data on startup success rates. They offer a wealth of information and sometimes help to build communities and networks for emerging businesses – a big help in connections and capital – but there’s a tendency to downplay the personal.

Consider the experience for Austrian Lukas Gopp, and his business partner, the Chicago-born Octavio Garcia. Both product designers worked for prestigious Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet, among others, in careers spanning a combined 34 years. They loved the elegance, they loved the precision, they loved the creative process. Yet they yearned to express other parts of their personality in good design.

That’s how the Gorilla watch – one that celebrates their love of powerful muscle cars, without losing the refined touch – was born. “Leaving the comfort of world-renowned watch houses to found a new place of expression,” the pair explains of their journey. “Challenging our creativity further, testing new limits.”

It’s the driving impulse that resonates with entrepreneurs who, in a variety of contexts, find themselves limited in their work lives and want to break free. In fact, it’s so common that former eyewear designers Neil Ferrier and Jeremy Hadden – the dynamic duo at Discommon Goods – basically launched a startup to serve other entrepreneurs with a platform for exploring their ideas outside of their home companies.

"Our designers go unnamed - Why? Most of them are heads of design departments in globally recognized brands,” they explain. “We offer them an outlet to moonlight, some creative freedom, but more importantly, a guarantee that we will make whatever badass gear they design with us.” They’re tapping into the motherlode of entrepreneurship and ideas without having to walk away from day jobs.

That’s not an option for everyone, because most small business launches involve risk and lots of it. Yet their stories illustrate the passion for personal growth behind every successful small business – and more than a few that grow into household names. For people who can strike out on their own, or are planning and saving money for the day when they can, it’s often because they feel perched on a professional plateau and know that the engaging challenges and next level they seek lie beyond it.

When it comes to that personal growth, there are some consistencies and character traits that emerging entrepreneurs will want to develop. First there’s the risk we mentioned: If you’ve never been the adventurous type, or even if you are but waited patiently for the opportunity to live it, accepting the uncertainty of entrepreneurship and the possibility – some might say the likelihood – of failure can be daunting. You’ll need to grow in confidence, in persistence, in motivation that may be entirely intrinsic until you develop relationships within a community to add other dimensions to your sense of identity.

There are plenty of tools available to today’s startups to help you with taxes or time management or tracking inventory. There aren’t any software packages, though, to help you build the sense of trust a successful entrepreneur needs. By that we don’t mean the trust customers have in your products or services, because that’s what exceptional quality and good marketing are for. We don’t mean the trust your suppliers and B2B contacts have in you, because that’s what accounting or good logistics is for. No, we mean the trust you have in them, which is critical to truly hearing and acting on straight-talk feedback from all of your stakeholders and constituencies. If you’re going to grow your business, you need to trust others – investors, customers, city agencies, supply chain clients – to help you do that.

Automotive equipment companies know tools, but they don’t always know how to plug into community service and connect with customers in a different way. Family-owned supermarkets know food, but they aren’t always sure whether adding cooking classes or a delivery service makes sense. Quality appliance service or interior design will speak for itself, but a one-man shop or one-woman show has limitations.
It doesn’t always come naturally to the independent-minded business owner, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to make every decision or explore every path in a vacuum. You won’t be successful without the ability to trust others, and there isn’t an app for that so you’ll have to do it the old-school way and be intentional about listening to viewpoints. In many cases, you may want to consider a board structure or other more formal approach beyond those casual-business meetups or Facebook reviews.
Building a reputation for your business and a better future for your family is a goal, but behind the logo and storefront sign is who you will become in the process. More disciplined, more transparent, more aligned with your community’s vision – it’s all up to you. But if it’s only you, you’ll be limiting your ability to thrive.

Author's Bio: 

Dan Blacharski is editor-in-chief of US News And Review.