Myth 3: You must stick to your guns, no matter what
Got a great idea? By all means ignore the naysayers and go for it. If criticisms are valid, however, you'd better listen.
NEW YORK (Money Magazine) -- "The concept is interesting and well formed, but in order to earn better than a C, the idea must be feasible," a college professor supposedly wrote in response to a student's term paper outlining the need for a reliable overnight delivery service.
But Fred Smith ignored those discouraging words. "I thought this was a revolutionary idea.... I wasn't intimidated," said the fellow who founded FedEx in 1973.
Herb Kelleher, of Southwest Airlines, has been known to bray, "If it's conventional, it ain't wisdom, and if it's wisdom, it ain't conventional." After all, has anybody ever done anything innovative by consulting a focus group?
REALITY: Yes, actually. If you're intent on creating value - from either a giant company's command center or your guest bedroom at home - you carefully evaluate and absorb feedback.
True, successful people don't change their minds easily, says the Kauffman Foundation's Payne. But they are strategically flexible when they have to be.
In 1984, FedEx launched Zap-Mail, a high-speed fax service. But then cheap fax machines started popping up. "At that juncture," Smith once told an interviewer, "we knew we had to change."
When Sergio Zyman was chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola, he learned that sometimes things don't work out as planned. Remember New Coke? Years later, when he was on his own, Zyman raised $12 million to sell business-planning software. But he soon understood that the market was murmuring bad things about the product. "We had to kill it," he says.
By the time he told his backers, he had concocted a plan for turning the Zyman Group into a consulting firm. Last year the Atlanta company raked in $65 million in sales.
"You need to have enough conviction," says Zyman, "to know that you can find the right answer, even if you don't know it right away."