Trevor Blake built three successful startups and sold them for more than $300 million. Now he’s written a complete instruction manual that covers everything the budding entrepreneur or existing business owner needs to know to build the career or business of their dreams.
Unlike the many theoretical guides out there, this is a practical handbook based on Blake’s wildly successful in-the-trenches experience. It incorporates leading-edge strategies that cover every aspect of running a business — including funding, developing systems, and marketing. Blake presents in-depth insight into managing effectively, maintaining cash flow, and adapting to the changing needs of customers in volatile economic times.
One of his most innovative contributions is an emphasis on cultivating the right mindset, and he tells you exactly how to do that. “The secret to success isn’t in the plan,” he writes. “It’s in the person holding it.” His proven methods will give you the confidence to take the entrepreneurial leap and turn your winning idea into an efficient, profitable company.
We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from Secrets to a Successful Startup: A Recession-Proof Guide to Starting, Surviving & Thriving in Your Own Business.
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A winning idea, when it comes, is not like a typical, everyday “good idea.” Trust me, when you have a winning idea, you will know because you won’t be able to stop smiling or pacing the kitchen floor. Meditation and connecting with nature are powerful ways to deepen intuition and expand connectivity into a universe of solutions. The flashes of insight we receive as a result are more like complete blueprints than “wouldn’t it be cool” flights of fancy. They have us smacking our foreheads wondering why we never thought of them before, since they now seem so clear, so obvious, so perfect. Truly inspired, winning ideas induce a sense of wonder and awe.
That said, insights can take their own sweet time, and they usually arrive when we least expect them. Before I started my first company, I knew what made me mad. I knew what I wanted to fix. But I didn’t know how. Every day for several weeks I meditated and connected with nature. Lots of ideas sparked in my mind, and I was careful to jot every one of them down. However, none of them were quite right. Then one day I took quiet time just before checking out of a hotel room.
An hour later, I was walking through a busy airport terminal when the solution to the problem came to me in a flash. It was not a vague idea or a notion. It wasn’t a sketch. It was a detailed architectural blueprint, as if a diagram had unrolled on the floor in front of me. All at once, I saw the whole business model that could work to get those patients their medicine and make a profitable business. I actually stopped walking and let out a laugh that had other travelers thinking I had flipped out.
For my second company, the idea came to me while I was driving shortly after taking quiet time. I had to pull over and start writing feverishly on sticky notes. When I had it all written down, I continued driving to my appointment, but I could not get the idea to go away. So I canceled the appointment, turned the car around, drove home, and immediately set about turning the idea into a real company.
This is why you should never be more than an arm’s length away from pen and paper.
How can you distinguish a garden-variety good idea from a genuine “winning idea”? What do awe and wonder feel like? In a way, it’s like love. You know it when you feel it, and if you’re unsure, you probably aren’t feeling it. But I like how Emmy-nominated TV personality, filmmaker, and futurist Jason Silva puts it:
It is an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world in order to assimilate it. One of the ways we elicit wonder is by scrambling the self so that the world can seep through. In doing so we feel such a blast of energy and expectation that we literally want to rocket to the moon. We feel stupefied amazement every time we think of our dream. It is rapture. It is magic. Only in these moments do we experience the power of a lightning strike in our minds and nerves. It is rhapsodic. It is what I saw in my wife’s eyes every time we talked about it. She glowed. She floated. It was as if every time we talked about it, I had just placed a tiny puppy in her arms. That is awe. That is the state of ecstasy that must accompany a dream for it to have any hope of ever becoming reality.
Why is it so important to feel this strongly? First, it’s how we identify a winning idea. But just as importantly, we need to be truly inspired by our dreams, since we will need that motivation to do all the hard work they require. According to one 2015 study, experiencing a sense of awe promotes altruism, loving-kindness, and magnanimous behavior. The researchers described awe as “that sense of wonder we feel in the presence of something vast that transcends our understanding of the world.”
This is similar to the peak experiences described by Abraham Maslow, who wrote that these are “especially joyous and exciting moments in life, involving sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, wonder, and awe, and possibly also involving an awareness of transcendental unity or knowledge of higher truth (as though perceiving the world from an altered, and often vastly profound and awe-inspiring perspective).”
Thus, winning ideas inspire awe because they represent a profound desire to change the world in order to help others. They are solutions to problems that transcend ourselves. Yes, we may be happy for ourselves, too, but what really energizes us is feeling that larger sense of purpose, to be playing our part within the interconnected matrix of society and the world. Every time we think of our dream, we should want to dance on a mountaintop and scream with wonder and delight.
Enjoy the moment. Revel in it. Then immediately take steps to make that winning idea a reality.
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Trevor Blake is the author of Secrets to a Successful Startup. He founded and served as CEO of three different medical technology companies, which went on to sell for nine-figure sums. He lives near Seattle, Washington. More information at www.TrevorGBlake.com.
Excerpted from the book Secrets to a Successful Startup. Copyright © 2020 by Trevor Blake.