The idea of becoming an entrepreneur and working for yourself is cool and for your information, any ordinary person can become an entrepreneur including you. Yes! You. You just need to admit the fact that entrepreneurship isn’t about experience or special training but about using your own brain, motivating yourself, and building relationships with the right people. So, by now, you should know that there is no big deal in becoming an entrepreneur.
Henry David Thoreau once said “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” That is it. That is exactly what entrepreneurship entails. It is a conscious endeavor.
You could become self-employed, set up a partnership, invest in a franchise, buy a business, build an empire, invent a new gadget or launch a new service. You could work from home or lease an office, set up a website or showroom, work on your own or in a team of 10. You could set up a tiny outfit to target a niche market or a giant company to sell to the masses. Entrepreneurship is all about these things, and more. Not to even talk about the way internet and new technologies are changing the way we do/start business. Just few days ago, I ran into an entrepreneur who runs an agro related business. He named his company Agro-Merchant – he deals with everything farm produce and yet this man has no farm. You want to know how he runs his business? Keep reading.
Every successful entrepreneurs I have come across both physically and virtually share certain things in common – they all grew their businesses by identifying opportunities and persisting in the face of adversity, selling ideas and brokering deals, inspiring their employees and engaging their customers. You see my dear friend, business is fundamentally about people – your mental toughness and ability to build relationships with others.
As we journey into the practical steps into becoming an entrepreneur, I want you to take note of the following points below and I hope one or two points to you:
- There are reasons why people want to become an entrepreneur -: a few fall into it by accident after losing their job or getting fed up of corporate life, some want to turn passion or hobby into the focus of their work, many have audacious goals to grow businesses that will make them rich, others want to turn clever ideas or inventions into new products, services, or processes and there are those who set up on their own for lifestyle reasons, wanting to take control of their work-life balance and claim their personal lives back. Whatsoever your reason may be, it is all for the best.
- There isn’t a template for what kind of people become successful entrepreneurs – they are men and women, university graduates as well as school drop-outs, people having a bit difficulty in reading, experienced managers as well as naïve but enthusiastic moguls in the making.
- Becoming your own boss and succeeding in business isn’t about being good with balance sheets and spreadsheets. Those are the mere tools of business people. What makes a business succeed are passion and determination, relationship building skills and hard work. As long as you genuinely want to succeed, you will.
Now that you have an underlying knowledge about the possibility of you becoming a successful entrepreneur, let the practical steps begin.
Thinking Like An Entrepreneur
You see, the first step toward becoming an entrepreneur requires no action at all. It is not about acting, but thinking. To become an entrepreneur, you must learn to think like one. You need to understand that you must have a passion for what you do and enjoy the business of being in business. You also need to retrain your brain to get used to the sometimes uncertain life of being your own boss and to realize that you need to make mistakes to learn what works and what doesn’t.
- Chase a passion, not cash
Come to think of it. Would you want to sacrifice your happiness just for money – doing the things you have no passion about? The truth remains that your work will fill a larger percentage of your life and if you don’t find yourself doing what you love, you will remain frustrated all your life no matter the amount of cash you have stacked up in your bank account. If you are truly passionate about your work, making money will be a trivial issue.
Wanting to be rich does not generate wealth. Have you ever wondered why some entrepreneurs create huge business empires and become vastly rich but even when they make their millions, they carry on working regardless? They are not driven by money (people who do business for the core motive of money are not passionate but greedy), but the love of what they do. They are often gripped by an almost desperate determination to make their mark and do something better. Let me put it straight to you – The moment you begin to loose passion for what your do, that same moment, you begin to lose business. So let passion be your driving force.
- Enjoy business and people
With passion topping the list, it is just not enough. You need to ask yourself if you are really enthusiastic about the idea of running a business, of striking deals with suppliers, of poring over spreadsheets and managing cash and watching profit, of handling technology problems, invoicing snags and customer complaints. Most importantly is to know if you have an appetite for engaging with other people since entrepreneurship is fundamentally about people and relationship. It is about forging social connections with investors, suppliers, employees, customers, and even competitors.
Even if you have the best business plan in the world, investors are only going to put in their money if they trust you to deliver on your plan. Suppliers need to understand your vision, employees might need some persuading to join your little outfit rather than some more established firm, customers are going to need some more convincing to buy your products or services and it wouldn’t hurt to have friendly relationships with competitors to understand industry trends too. If all these communication and negotiation appears interesting to you, then you are in for entrepreneurship.
- Take responsibility
Now that you know that there is a need to adjust the way you think about your work and life, with that shift in mindset will come changes in how you behave and live your life from now on. Check the table below to see some of the responsibilities you will have to take up now that you are moving from being an employee to an entrepreneur. Corporate life can get terribly comfortable and predictable and you will have to see that in this table
As an Employee
As an Entrepreneur
|1. Regular income||Irregular income & sometimes you have no income at all|
|2. Regular work hours||Irregular work hours & most time, your sleep time becomes your work hours|
|3. Clear role & colleagues who can support them||A need to do everything and anything. You handle all the roles, market your products/service, persuade customers to give you a chance, send customers bills so that they can pay up, you become your own secretary and so on|
If all these sound so boring to you, then you are not ready for the journey. Entrepreneurs love these things. They love the freedom and opportunity to carve out their own careers rather than merely do what they are told to do.
- Enjoy making mistakes
Employees are instructed not to make mistakes; entrepreneurs thrive on them. There is this popular saying that “if you are not making mistakes, then you are not trying something new”. Well that’s entrepreneurs for you. They are willing to try new ways of working and understand what doesn’t work. Too many would-be entrepreneurs allow themselves to be held back by their own failure. They don’t want to go wrong and look and look foolish or stupid, they worry what others might think, they look for approval and when others tell them that their idea won’t work, they stall and chew their fingernails, and wonder what to do next. That procrastination is often enough for the opportunity to slip them by, for someone else with a similar idea to have the guts to trial and test it and bring it to market.
You see, most ideas won’t work at first, not in the way you first intend it. However, each of your mistakes is an opportunity to learn, to improve your process, and eliminate methods that don’t work. Always see each of your failures as an experiment that will help you find the right formula and until you find it, don’t settle. Interestingly enough, entrepreneurs get it wrong but are determined enough to carry on regardless. They work at their ideas and they adjust their goals constantly in the light of new information on what competitors are doing, what customers are asking for, and what the technology allows them to do.
This is the conclusion of the whole matter – be ready to make mistakes; lots of them. Give yourself a pat on the back every time something doesn’t work because your mistakes will ultimately allow you to figure out how to succeed.
- Commit to getting started
It matters less how you get started as long as you do so. There are too many people who merely wish they could be entrepreneurs. They imagine what it would be like to run their own business. They dream and talk about wanting to become entrepreneurs but, behind the words, there are no actions to make it happen; they find it easier to come up with excuses for not doing it and delude themselves that they are going to do it “soon.”
Many successful entrepreneurs started out fairly cautiously, by working on their new venture part-time while juggling the regular income of their full-time occupation. There is no reason you couldn’t do that to begin with. You see, whatever you do, don’t let yourself become one of those spectators who merely watch and wish it could be them. Make sure you set that time aside to think, discuss, plan, or research without letting tiredness or other engagements or laziness get in your way. I have a request to make and I hope I am not asking too much – kindly invest a few hours a week on getting started as an entrepreneur.
Nurturing Your Idea
Now you may be asking yourself – what business idea do I have? What business are you going to do? Well, that is no big deal. If you are ready to work for yourself, you can always find the perfect idea or business that suits you. You do not necessarily to launch out a novel earth-shattering idea. You can simply by research, talking to people and going online find the idea that works for you. Maybe a way to tweak someone else’s idea, modify a product that already exists, or offer a service packaged up in a slightly different way.
- Ponder, reflect, and contemplate
One way of building a business is to look to your own talents. If you can do something with ease that others find difficult, you might be able to build a business on it. Remember that you have to be passionate about what you want to do, or at least be excited about it. If you don’t like lots of customers asking stupid questions, don’t go into retail. If you can’t stand the sophistication of computers, don’t get into software solutions, no matter how profitable the idea could be.
As you ponder, reflect and contemplate on what kind of a business to build, make sure that your business idea matches your temperament.
- Investigate new markets, niches and opportunities
Another way to look for a winning business concept is to appropriate someone else’s idea. This is called best practice sharing or benchmarking. Business people do it all the time; copying the best of what someone else does, but trying to make it better. The easiest way to appropriate an idea is to look abroad for inspiration. Find an idea that has worked in another country and transfer it home.
- Pick up on market trends
The only thing that stays constant is change. The world, people and society are changing. Look at the world around you and tap into how work and home life and communities are changing. With change comes shifting lifestyles, needs, and opportunities.
- Broaden your perspective
True entrepreneurs seek inspiration from everything they do, everyone they speak to, anything they touch or engage with. They look around themselves and ask: “What if?”
You’ve got to read widely and outside of your industry. Look for styles, trends and influences. Look back at history for ideas too. What might have been considered unfashionable by one generation is often regarded as retro and suddenly fashionable again by the next. Seek out new experiences. New experiences generate ideas and ideas are the currency of entrepreneurs. What different activity are you going to do today?
Assignment: To generate ideas, answer the following questions
- What hobbies do you have?
- What do you love doing?
- When were the recent occasions you had fun?
- What are your three biggest talents?
- What have you seen abroad that you wish you had at home?
- Is there something you love that you can’t find?
- What irritates you as a consumer?
- What service or product would you buy today if it existed?
- What complaints do your friends have as customers and consumers?
- What is your favorite shop and how could it be better?
- What could save your time and money if only you could find it?
- Who do you think provides great service and how could it be transferred to a new product or service?
- What would help people to have more fun in their lives?
- What could you produce faster, better, or cheaper?
- What would help your colleagues to get out of office on time?
- How could you make someone feel safer and happier?
- What could you do to help a parent save a few minutes every day?
- Who do you think has an indispensable product but dire service?
- What do you think people tolerate – but don’t need to?
- What experience would enable people to enjoy their lives?
6. Trust your gut
The right idea will eventually hit you like a bullet to the head. Only with less blood and risk of death, but hopefully just as forcefully. The first barrier to turning an idea into a business is the one you need to overcome for yourself. Of you are not excited by the idea, you’re going to work long days and long, long months bringing it to fruition. If you are not convinced by the idea, you be able to convince others about it.
You’ve got to trust your instincts, your feelings. If you feel good about it, that’s a start. Capture your ideas on paper and work on them promptly.
7. Ignore those who speak negatively of your idea
People will rubbish your idea – but that’s unexpected – it’s human nature to resist new ideas. The newer or more unusual your idea, the less likely people are to see its potential. However, lack of vision is only one reason people might tell you your idea isn’t going to work.
There are unfortunately people in the world who can’t bear to see others succeed. They might feel stuck in their jobs and unable to get out. They probably long to become entrepreneurs but lack the creativity or courage to do so. And they find it easier to pour cold water on the dreams of others than to say anything positive.
Then there are the people who might be genuinely concerned for you. In their eyes, they see you as too naïve or inexperienced to run your own business. They worry that you’re taking too big a gamble; they feel that you’re throwing away the security of income and career.
No matter what their reason is for been negative about your idea, that’s none of your business. They are mere distractors. Ignore them and move on.