Do you regularly experience the following?
- Your spouse/significant other/friends/family regularly tell you that you should be your own boss
- You look at success stories and think, “I could do that”
- You’re more successful than your colleagues or boss
- You feel like you’re ready to be an entrepreneur
When hearing or thinking these things, it’s really tempting to say, “I’m going to start my own business.”
Here’s the truth. Did you know that over 50% of business owners fail within the first five years?
Look, we’re not trying to rain on your parade. There are plenty of people who make their business a success; however, the true entrepreneurial spirit is few and far between. It takes guts, determination, and a no-nonsense boldness — including having an ‘I will succeed no matter what’ attitude.
Although it’s great that you’re already successful in your career, everyone thinks you should be a boss — and you feel the same. The reality is, it takes a whole lot more than that to start your own business and become a successful business owner.
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve done almost everything wrong early on to learn what NOT to do in my current business.
So, today, we’re going to take an honest look at exactly what successful entrepreneurs do — and do not do — to succeed. At the end, we want you to take a cold, hard look at yourself and decide if you truly have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.
Pursue Purpose Over Profits
There are a number of people who go into business for money alone. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you could always get paid for it, let alone get rich doing it.
Here’s the thing: Working a 9-5 with another company paying you a salary can make up for a lack of passion and/or purpose for the industry. Or frankly, you don’t even have to believe in the company’s products or services.
As an entrepreneur, you won’t have that guaranteed salary, meaning you might spend over 60 hours a week doing something you may begin to hate. In fact, successful entrepreneurs learn to love what they hate doing the most. Most actually could consider they’re masters at it. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your business is in something you not only love doing, but it’s something you wholeheartedly believe in, and it is your purpose beyond profits.
Delay Instant Gratification
Another big issue we see with people who want to become entrepreneurs is the idea that they’re going to earn a ton of money right off the bat.
Making money as an entrepreneur takes years. For every successful startup you see where people launch and become successful within a few months, there are 10,000 other companies still struggling.
Because of this, you’ll need to make sure you have cash flow as soon as you launch, reserve, and continue to invest back into your business. Having the right strategy and marketing plan in place ensures your company will be profitable sooner rather than later.
Be a Great Finisher
Yeah, we get it. You’re thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, so you must already be a self-starter. So you must be a decent finisher, right? That is absolutely NOT true for most entrepreneurs.
That same initiative you’re using to start your business needs to carry forward with you every day of the week. Nearly 40% of entrepreneurs work over 60 hours per week, and they need to be ‘on’ every single day.
If you like having a set schedule, prefer putting in an eight-hour work week, and love the idea of having a ‘balanced life,’ becoming an entrepreneur isn’t going to be the right career move for you.
Procrastination is a very real issue. In your 9-5, you probably have a manager who monitors what you’re doing. Your tasks are frequently laid out for you as well, meaning you know exactly what you’re going to do each day. Even when you do slack off, you still get paid.
As an entrepreneur, TIME.IS.MONEY
When you procrastinate, you’re losing your income, and no one is going to come in and pay you for spending an hour at lunch playing a freemium game. You’ll also need to be able to sort your tasks and create a schedule you can follow.
If you’re afraid of stepping on your competitors’ toes, or don’t want to deal with a rivalry, being an entrepreneur is going to feel like an uphill battle.
Obviously, we’re not saying you should throw mud on your competitors like you’re in an election; however, you do need to play hard to win.
Work to be the best in your field so you can see those customers start rolling in.
Marketing is Senior to Sales
As an entrepreneur, you’re not only marketing your business, you’re also marketing yourself.
Unless you have a lot of capital or work in the marketing business, you’re likely not going to have enough funds to get a marketing team together. This is where your marketing skills come in handy.
Take the time to create a marketing strategy that you can afford and execute. Your business will eventually gain traction, and you’ll be able to eventually hire a marketing professional.
Do Work Hard
We think we’ve gone over this a few times, but it bears repeating. You need to be willing to put in the work.
Being an entrepreneur can seem like a really fun career path, and it is, but you will spend hundreds of hours at your business each month. You’re also going to be wearing every proverbial hat, from CEO to janitor.
If you’re leaving a 9-5 with the idea that owning your own business will be less work, you’ll have a rude awakening once you start your business.
Don’t Go in Blind
Did you know the number one reason that small businesses fail is that the team isn’t suited for the project, while poor market analysis comes in as the fourth reason?
Sadly, we see A LOT of people go in with the idea that they have an intrinsic knowledge of the industry they’re in because they want to go into it.
For example, when I was a kid, there was a school janitor who opened an ice cream shop. Everyone loved him as a janitor, and his ice cream business was successful for a few years, but eventually failed. He went back to our school as a janitor. Years later, he told me he went into ice cream because he liked working with kids, not because he knew anything about the ice cream industry.
When you begin to think about opening your own business, you need to take the time to really look at what the industry is offering and what you know about it. You might find that your dream business simply won’t work in your area.
Hence, it’s most important to get the right support at the beginning to help eliminate any pitfalls ahead of you. Don’t do it alone.
Do Think Creatively
Entrepreneurs are a naturally creative group of people. No, seriously. An estimated 75% of entrepreneurs are considered creative thinkers.
Creative thinkers are willing to go outside of the box and come up with new and exciting ideas for both their industries and companies. They look for ways to be more efficient, save money, and make their company successful.
Have a Problem to Solve
Businesses are successful because they solve problems for their clients.
They aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel, but they are looking to solve something that people actually have an issue with.
This can lead to some really creative ideas, like grocery shopping apps and Uber or Lyft.
However, too many people go in with no problem to solve, instead taking the mindset that ‘if I build it, they will come.’ That is one of the biggest myths in business.
Not only will you have to be solving a problem for your ideal clients, but you will also have to understand how to create an irresistible offer and pair it with the appropriate pricing for the product or service to be compelling enough for the buyers.
Love Working With People
You are going to need to talk to thousands of people over your lifetime, and entrepreneurs are some of the most talkative of the bunch. Not only do you need to speak to clients and customers, but you also need to talk to manufacturers, contractors, etc. You need to be able to talk to people from all walks of life.
And last but not least, you need to know how to hire and train the right kind of people that could actually help drive your business forward. It takes the right set of leadership skills to lead a team of extraordinary employees.
Don’t Get Along With Everyone
You might be thinking we’re contradicting ourselves here, but hear us out.
You don’t need to be friends with every person you meet. You need to lead and persuade, but you’re not likely to befriend all your employees (some might not even like you). You’re also going to need to make tough decisions, like firing or giving tough evaluations.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, but if you think you have what it takes, it can be a rewarding career path.
There are plenty of people who want to be an entrepreneur, but they need to first discover if they have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. From being willing to not get along with everyone to frequently leaving their comfort zone, entrepreneurs are truly a rare breed of individual.
Ready to take the leap? Talk to one of our specialists today to get your business off the ground!