No, you can’t just follow someone’s template: at best that will waste your time and energy. No, there’s no simple formula to follow. But you can do better than emulating successful entrepreneurs, you can have a framework for action and an intentional approach to build the beautiful business you’ve always imagined.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.H. L. Mencken
These 5 Entrepreneurial Action Levels form the path to success for members of the Better Entrepreneurial Action Network. The Levels are used to unify the theory and practical implications of human action for entrepreneurial action developed through the Economics for Business project of the Mises Institute. They provide an integrated approach to selecting and assessing entrepreneurial action so that entrepreneurs can take be more consistent and effective action.
In this episode of the Whatever The Heck That Means on YouTube we introduce such a framework for taking intentional action to be(come) a beautiful business. Check it out. Like, and subscribe if you do. Comment your thoughts and questions too.
Over the course of your entrepreneurial journey you will work across all levels to achieve and sustain success. They build on each other, but not as a simple linear progression. As you progress, you will count on your lower levels to support the upper, but also you will often return to work and improve the lower to enable greater results at higher levels.
Similarly, circumstances and opportunities may demand that you work at a higher level than you’ve built up to so far, in which case you’ll assemble scaffolding up through the intermediate level (or more!) to do what needs to be done. After which, you’ll return your attention back down to transform that scaffolding into solid footings.
In a bit of a break from other video-related blogs, I’m including the core ideas from the video in written form below. I’m doing this because I want you to be able to look at the ideas in black and white and really think about how and whether this applies to and resonates with you. I really want your feedback, either publicly in the comments below on the YouTube video above, or directly through LinkedIn or the Simbiotrek (sim-bē-‘ä-‘trek) website.
Entrepreneurial Action Levels
( Note [August 24, 2022]: New names are being explored for Level 4 )
( UPDATE [October 6, 2022]: Level 4 is now known as “Thriving with the Fittest” )
1: Answering the Call
[Accepting, Committing, Preparing]
We become entrepreneurs because:
- We feel a call in our hearts to contribute more to society, to do good, and to help others
- We have discerned that the most impactful and sustainable way of doing that is through business
Level 1 is our home base, our foundation, for everything that follows. New entrepreneurs need to invest in themselves to grow their foundation, and experienced entrepreneurs need to return to Level 1 on a regular basis to “sharpen their saw” and cultivate creative energy and inspiration.
2: Making Plans and Gathering the Clans
[Exploring, Imagining, Trying]
An entrepreneurial endeavor doesn’t come into being from a vacuum. Level 2 is where we are when we’re figuring out:
- Who you might partner with to create it
- What capacities you need to assemble to deliver it
- (most importantly) Who your customers will be and what value it will provide to them
If your entrepreneurial journey were a movie, Level 2 would include the key moments of you assembling the team and the montage of you doing a bunch of “hard work” to set the stage for the dramatic action to follow.
3: Putting out into the Deep
[Launching, Listening, Learning]
“Launch” feels like a big word, but it doesn’t have to be. And you shouldn’t let it be as you advance across the blurry line between Level 2 and Level 3. Yes, there may still be times for a big launch, and some types of product may require it, but with the internet and modern media, the need to make a big splash to get attention is less and less. In our context, “launching” happens with every A/B test of our messaging and every effort to explain our value proposition to a prospective customer.
“Listening” and “Learning” need to become core to how we operate. They continue beyond sales and marketing, through purchase, to your customers’ consumption of your product and service. You need to be completely attuned to your customers’ subjective assessments of value.
That is really the heart of this level of action: DOING and LEARNING.
You’ll know that you’ve firmly crossed the blurry line from Level 2, when you have paying customers and can articulate what you do based on the value those customers have told you they’ve experienced.
While you as an entrepreneur may not always have your focus on Level 3, your company had better, assuming you want to be successful and relevant in the future!
4: Thriving with the Fittest *
[Stabilizing, Systematizing, Sensing]
While (part of) your company needs to keep operating at Level 3, it may be time for you to turn your attention to Level 4 when you are constantly and consistently attracting and re-attracting customers to your offering. At Level 4 you focus on making your own operations predictable so that you can better plan and manage your business. At the same time you are working to make your customers’ experience of value more predictable too.
If you have been struggling to grow beyond where you are, you likely need to come back to Level 4 from Level 5 and adjust what you’ve done at this level.
- [August 24, 2022]: Based on feedback from this video and blog we’re experimenting with the name of this level. Currently, Thriving with the Fittest is the leading candidate for the new name.
- [October 6, 2022]: With the publishing of the Thriving with the Fittest blog (linked below), that is the confirmed name for Level 4. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback!
5: Onwards and Upwards
[Scaling, Adapting, Expanding]
Most entrepreneurs begin their journey with a vision of someday operating at Level 5. Of going from success to success and building strength on strength. Of serving more customers, different types of customers, and creating greater value for all customers, interaction over interaction.
The strategic decisions you make at Level 5, including, and especially, when to focus attention back down to the lower levels, might not make or break your business, but will be the difference between being a good company and becoming a great one.
While the dream of acting at Level 5 is often far in the future, with many successes behind and a strong foundation in place to leverage, needed to acting at Level 5 always happens earlier in the journey too.