The road to startup success is long and winding. If you look carefully you can often find a few handy traffic signs to help you along your journey. Wherever your destination may be, if you look hard enough and travel smart, you can discover a way to get there faster.
They’re called proverbial traffic signs, or rules for the road, and they are usually right in front of you. You only need to pay closer attention to see them.
Here are 5 tips that are sure to help you accomplish your dreams with more ease than you ever thought possible:
Know Your Destination
Before you get on the road make sure you clearly define your end goals. The first step you take before embarking on a cross-country road trip is to punch in destination coordinates into your GPS. The same concept applies before tackling business goals. You should begin with the desired end in mind.
Map Alternate Routes
There will always be alternate routes available when traveling to your destination. However, it takes a savvy entrepreneur to identify which path is worth traveling. If you want to go places and get there in record time, you need to think beyond the immediate and obvious contributing variables. You can’t simply consider approximate miles and estimated arrival time and call it a day.
You need to account for traffic, unexpected accidents and possible road blocks. Begin by asking yourself, “How can I accomplish my goal in the quickest and most effective way possible?” Then map out at least 20 ways to make that happen. Don’t shorten your list when you hit a creative block — sometimes it’s the last answer that renders the best solution.
Identify Your Vehicle
Once you’ve selected the most efficient course, consider the mode of transportation you’ll need to take that ride. What compromises are you willing to make to get there faster? Do you need to change your skill sets or will your current “vehicle” get you to the same mile marker? Are you willing to risk financial security, even temporarily? Do you need space for others? Most importantly, decide if you have what it takes to be in the driver’s seat.
Use Your Mirrors
When you’re on the “road to success” you’ll inevitably hit a few potholes. Often you don’t see them until it’s too late and you’re stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire and a headache. So, keep your eyes open and proactively be on the lookout. Talk to like-minded entrepreneurs, share your ideas, reflect on your past and stay true to your vision.
It’s easy to get off-course and miss the exit if you’re too busy checking your rear view for what you’ve left behind. Maintain your focus, follow the signs (and your instinct) . . . and yes, U-turns are okay! Mistakes are bound to happen. Learn from them and keep moving forward, only this time put the pedal to the metal.
Put the Top Down
What’s the point of a road trip if you’re not going to enjoy the ride? Roll down the windows, put the sunroof back, or lower that convertible top and embrace the winds of change whipping across your face. If you’re excited about where you’re heading, you’ll travel faster — it’s that simple.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Ashley Mady, president of Brandberry, is a brand builder with a proven track record in design, marketing, licensing and merchandising. A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog. Connect with @KickAshMady on Twitter.