One of the challenges of entrepreneurship is that much of what you do is new. You have to create new value, find new ways to reach customers, organize new resources into new systems.

You can reduce uncertainty by building on past experience or by learning from the experience of others.

But at some point the road ends and wilderness opens before you. This is the terrain of the innovator.

You have to build experience. It’s expensive, slow, and necessary.

How do you know if you’re going in the right direction?

Nothing exists without betraying some signal of its existence. That means that if you’re heading in the right direction, there should be some indicators that you’re on the right track.

To give a concrete example, I reformulated our marketing plan early this year to focus on referrals. I’m executing the early phases of it. Yesterday, I got on a call with another veteran supplier in our target market and asked for their advice on how to sell our services there. This was to both expand our referral network with a new connection and gather intelligence about the market. The plan that he lined out was exactly the plan that I came up with earlier in the year.

It’s not a stream of new leads, but it’s something. A blip of signal that says, “There’s probably something here.”

What I’m looking for next is some form of sales conversation or an unsolicited referral. Maybe not a fully qualified lead, but someone interested or our company recommended.

The next time you’re standing on the edge of the pavement, gazing off at strange mountains and mist cloaked valleys, the question in your mind should be, “What will tell me I’m on the right track?”

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Featured image is Amerigo Vespucci observing the Southern Cross with an Astrolabium, by Jan Collaert II. Museum Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp, Belgium. Used under CC0