To Succeed in Business, Abandon Your Go-It-Alone Mindset

To my chagrin, I realized I dropped the ball completing my article series based on Bill Murphy Jr.'s "The Intelligent Entrepreneur" (subtitled "How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship"). Time to get back to business! Rule No. 4 reminds us that our success depends on other people -- you can't do it alone.

To my chagrin, I realized I dropped the ball completing my article series based on Bill Murphy Jr.'s "The Intelligent Entrepreneur" (subtitled "How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship").

Time to get back to business!

When this intrepid blogger left off, we were exploring Rule No. 3: "Think Big, Think New, Think Again." And since I'm sure by now you've forgotten the first two rules, they are "Make the commitment!" and "Find a problem, then solve it."

Rule No. 4 reminds us that our success depends on other people -- you can't do it alone!

Leveraging "social capital" involves:

• Building a solid network around you that provides support, encouragement and access to needed resources.

• Creating a team staffed with folks who have complementary talents and experience -- which obviously requires that you know your own skills and strengths, and can recognize the gaps that need filling. In Bill Murphy Jr.'s words, "Generally, that means making sure you have what I think of as a big idea person and a get stuff done person".

• Investing in relationships on the basis of reciprocation - be willing to give way more than you hope to get. This can seem tricky to physicians who don't feel they have much to offer other than their medical knowledge. Let me remind you that starting a business is not for shrinking violets - you need the imagination and a certain degree of hubris to recognize your potential value to others, even if it's offering some hand-holding during the mother-in-law's illness!

The successful entrepreneurs portrayed in "The Intelligent Entrepreneur" coped with natural introversion and awkwardness around networking, made a point of meeting and getting to know interesting people, and acted boldly from time to time to introduce themselves to people they recognized as potentially important players in their aspirations.

To build a great start-up team, here are a few pointers from the book:

• Use your existing networks -- this is such an important topic, I shall revisit it in the next few months.

• Decide where you want to work. Get as close as you can to the centers where your kind of business thrives (e.g. Silicon Valley for tech start-ups).

• Use technology to build your networks and to hire.

• Don't waste time with networks that don't deliver -- "it isn't about quantity, it's about quality."

It should also go without saying that, in order to deposit social capital in the bank, you have to acknowledge the contributions others make to the success of your efforts. Your trusty assistants, your generous networking buddies, your mentors who make introductions and show you the ropes -- all need to hear you thank them.

On a personal note, I have made 2011 all about The Entrepreneurial MD Team, having engaged my first business manager, whom I found via my network! It's a very exciting step!

Next, we'll tackle Rule No. 5, which will be a surprise coming on the heels of Rule No. 4.