One of the most important lessons of the highs and low’s in Steve Case’s career is to learn from both your successes and your failures. His passion did not make him impulsive, but rather steered him through the difficult times and sharpened his focus. As you build each layer of your opportunity
pyramid there will be risks to take, but just remember make sure you go back to the passion at your essence, which defines what you are trying to achieve.
Case’s story should show you that no matter how little money you have to start your business, you can make a go of it. Look for creative ways
of marketing, as Case did by creating a company name that “sold itself.” In order to achieve Case’s level of marketing prowess, you can’t forget
the criteria he used, and still uses to this day, when assessing a potential opportunity.
These three criteria are critical:
• Have a big idea.
• Look for platform opportunities, not just product opportunities.
• Invest in people who can change the world.
Remember big ideas that take time to develop. His businesses were not created overnight; they took many years. Patience is vital for business owners and managers. One of the key ingredients in Case’s growth plan was putting together a good team. This takes time. Synergies need to develop for a cohesive unit to emerge.
Even if you’re not in a management position, you can still inspire others. If you work hard and show confidence, your talent will be recognized
and you can be given opportunities you never thought were possible. Remember, leaders are looking for the next generation to help the company grow. Case would be the first to tell you it’s the people in the company who add value and growth potential, whether the organization is Zipcar, AOL, or the children’s clothing company Lolly Wolly Doodle.
Case’s biggest piece of advice is one everyone should embrace: “If you are in it for any reason other than passion, it’s hard to be a successful entrepreneur.” I have seen small business owners and CEOs who have lacked that passion, and it doesn’t take too long before the business suffers. Do you want it bad enough? Are you consumed by what you want to do? That’s the drive Case is talking about. It’s this type of drive that will comfort as well as energize you as you approach the next level of the pyramid. It’s your sustenance.