To be a successful entrepreneur you will need a good idea, money, a little luck, and hard work (lots of it). 90 % of the most successful people fail the most, meaning you must first lose something (your initial investment) before you gain anything (profits, equity, etc.). Russell Simmons lost 10 million dollars the first five years of starting Phat Farm which is now a multi-million dollar company. You don’t necessarily need a lot of experience or resources to be a successful entrepreneur but you will need passion and persistence. The ability to turn everyday ideas into a business is what makes ordinary entrepreneurs extraordinary people. This talent or gift if you will is what makes them different and unique at the same time. Most start with very limited resources and separate themselves from competitors through their personal efforts. They move fast and make good decisions to gain a share of the market before going the distance with bigger competitors. Even though their age, race, or sex is not always the same it is easy to spot an entrepreneur and their business. They may become rich from their idea but all start by looking to change the way things are being done by satisfying a need that is not being served. There is a difference between a good idea and an actual opportunity. Being able to distinguish between the two can save you time, effort, and not to mention money!
The entrepreneur is the driving force that creates a vision and pushes the company towards that vision through the ups and downs of business. Being an entrepreneur is one of the scariest, thrilling, worrisome, yet exciting things one can experience. But before you can be an entrepreneur you must first understand the concept of entrepreneurship. There are many different types of entrepreneurs including social, home based, virtual, serial, and traditional just to name a few. The most commonly accepted definition of entrepreneurship is the practice of starting a new organization or revamping an old organization usually to respond to identified opportunities. It is at this point that you should know that a large majority of new businesses fail. The most successful people become that way because they are not afraid to try something new, then they learn from their mistakes and try to mirror what made them successful the first time. The biggest argument you will hear is that the difference between an entrepreneur and a small business owner is mainly the fact of how they want to grow the company. Small business owners tend to run ventures that remain small and geographically bound only making a few million in revenues(if that) through out the life span of the business. Entrepreneurial ventures tend to make millions within the first 3-5 years while looking to grow both nationally and internationally, trying to exploit the opportunity to the fullest. Other common characteristics of entrepreneurial ventures are that there driven by opportunity, focused on innovation and use creative destruction to create new value by shaking up the marketplace. While small businesses represent the majority of jobs available in America, entrepreneurial ventures generate the most new jobs.
So how do you know if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur? Well it starts with the type of business you are looking to start, because every other decision will be affected from that point. While planning for the business the goals you set should give you a good idea if you are looking to create a national or global presence or sustain a key presence in your local community. Neither choice however has a lower risk involved than the other. Both are calculated risk takers that manage risk and make decisions based on what they believe their chances of success to be from the research that they have conducted. Both are comfortable with uncertainty, understanding that even the best financial forecast is not 100% accurate in determining exactly when a business owner will be able to pay themselves a steady paycheck. Uncertainty should not just be limited to a financial stand point since it can also be seen with the economy, customers, suppliers, legal and government issues, competitors, employees, as well as technology to point out a few. However, even uncertainty brings opportunity. The question is will you answer when opportunity knocks? As the owner you will have the biggest impact on whether your business grows and operates at its full potential.
Taking the leap into-Entrepreneurship
Up until this point you have read some of the characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur. The saying, “Practice makes perfect,” is absolutely true to every aspect of life, especially being a business owner. Book knowledge can be a great tool to help you avoid making many mistakes but nothing can replace the hands on experience you get by actually seeing what works for you. You have all the skills, the business that you want to start and the passion to make it work through thick and thin. But before you make the leap of faith, let’s make sure you are ready in some other aspects-since it is better to be over prepared.
The time it takes to start and run a business will require a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. This means that young or old your personal life will take some hits. The support of family and friends will be needed, as they need to have an understanding of what starting a business is going to mean to your family life. Since many chose to have another job as a source of income during the start-up phase your free time will mostly be spent growing your business.
Being an entrepreneur takes it tolls physically. Operating lean and mean is great for business but it often means that you spend longer hours doing yourself what you would pay someone else to do. This means that to accommodate for those 14+ hour work days, 7 days a week you must remain on top of your game both physically and mentally. Proper nutrition and finding the time to exercise will help keep health related problems to a minimum-it’s hard to enjoy the fruits of your labor from a hospital bed.
Know what aspects of business you are good at and hire others to feel in the gaps. Many owners think that the must be great at everything the business does. This is not the case even though it does help to have a good understanding of how to do everyone else’s job just in case they get sick or something. From an entrepreneurial standpoint building teams were you are the weakest link is not necessarily a bad thing.
Along with knowing what aspect of business you are good at you must also know what you are comfortable with. Are you OK with being the boss and having employees that are older than you? Dealing with different personality types of employees? Making financial decisions and managing money? Starting a business that requires a lot of debt before you see a profit? Going years before you actually see enough of a profit to give yourself a steady paycheck? These are just a few things you must consider and have a back up plan…or two just in case you run into them down the road.
Rome was not built in a day and neither will your empire be. The fact of the matter is that being an entrepreneur is far from a get rich quick scheme. However you chose to measure your success it will take time, effort, and a lot of patience.
Be realistic with yourself. Your business is your baby, and just like you I want to see you nurture it until it grows into a successful company. I regret however, that I must also keep you in touch with the harsh reality that most businesses fail (remember (90 % of the most successful people fail the most). You are taking a chance and by all means you will have to be one of your biggest supporters but don’t get so caught up in your dream that you allow yourself to be crushed by reality. An “A” entrepreneur with a “C” idea has a better chance to succeed than a “C” entrepreneur with an “A” idea.