A lot of people struggle with the entrepreneur definition. It’s easy to envision not having a boss, working whenever and wherever you like, and making serious money. It’s true, running your own business has a lot of perks. But most people only have seen the entrepreneur definition that’s floated in movies or TV, the kind of Rockstar success that starts profitable ventures wherever they go.
What they don’t see is all of the individuals who try and fail every year to become successful. The failure rate for new small businesses is extremely high. Only a small sliver of companies breaks even, much less go on to bigger success.
We don’t say this to discourage you, but you should know what you’re in for. Learning about what it takes to make money on your own as you follow your dreams of innovation is the first step every true entrepreneur must take. It’s how you discover if you’ve got what it takes.
There’s No Blueprint
The first thing every aspiring entrepreneur should know is that there’s no blueprint. There is no step-by-step guide included in starting your businesses. People start their own companies coming from all walks of life and circumstances.
Some people have an idea that turns into a passion and they’re off and running. Others have a million ideas but can’t get any of them to make a profit or get off the ground. Some aspiring entrepreneurs just can’t find anyone to back them financially, others fail even when they have millions in venture capital behind them.
A lot of people start businesses because they develop skills over a long time and feel confident branching out on their own. A lot of entrepreneurs finally found success when they hit a wall in their traditional careers and felt they had no other options.
Recognizing that there is no clear path to success is one of the best lessons in business entrepreneurship. There are no guides or rules. In entrepreneurship, you often make your own.
Find A Mentor
Yes, there’s no blueprint, but that doesn’t mean no one can help you. If you’re determined to build a successful business, find someone who has who’s willing to mentor you along the way. Lean on them as much as possible for advice and insight.
Mentors are wonderful because they’ve lived through it. Yes, they haven’t made the product or service you want to sell, but maybe they’re in a related industry. Additionally, they can walk you through what to expect when it’s time to get a business loan or seek out venture capital. They can direct you to resources and how to bring something to market.
Many people get nervous about approaching someone to mentor them. They’re surprised to learn how willing and sometimes eager successful businesspeople are to mentor younger or less experienced entrepreneurs. They’ve spent years or decades honing their craft and love being able to share it with others.
Be mindful not to overburden your mentor. You don’t want to come off needy or over-reliant. Schedule regular meetings or calls and make sure you have what you want to discuss laid out. Be respectful of their time and take full advantage of the opportunity offered to you.
It All Starts With An Idea
We don’t want to overplay the importance of “the idea” here. Yes, we’ve all seen stories of folks who have been seemingly struck by lightning and come up with an idea to start a social media platform. Those ideas are few and far between. Too many people who dream of entrepreneurship struggle with not having any viable ideas.
The truth is, though, that the vast majority of successful business ideas are those that marginally improve on what’s already in the market. Someone finds a way to make a running shoe a smidge lighter. Another person can make a beautiful table faster and with a new process than the established industry leader.
Most entrepreneurs have simple ideas that are based on a set of skills and knowledge that they already possess. It’s just whoever finds the time and the space that starts a business and changes people’s lives. And that person most certainly can be you.
Entrepreneurship Definition Is All About Execution
You can have thousands of ideas and all of the best intentions of the world, and you still won’t start a successful business. The entrepreneurship definition should include a line that says it’s 10% idea and 90% hard work. Executing a business plan and building out your idea is a massive challenge.
It’s why most people aren’t entrepreneurs, honestly. It’s a lot of hard work. Innovation takes effort. Economic growth doesn’t happen just because someone saw an opportunity. They saw the opportunity, wrestled it from the hands of many other people, and made it theirs.
If you do decide to start a business, expect long hours and a lot of sacrifices. Some people are lucky enough to have safety nets. Perhaps they’re young and without a lot of obligations. Most young entrepreneurs are more willing to take risks because they don’t have a lot riding on success or failure. It’s an advantage.
However, older entrepreneurs have a lot going for them as well. They have experience working at large corporations and know what’s on the line. They can have a self-directed career full of passion and challenge where they have total control over making money.
As you branch out on your own, what you’ll soon discover is no one is going to care about your business as much as you do. None of your employees, if you ever get to that point, are going to put in as many hours or pay as close attention to the details. It’s all on you to execute and get your business rolling.
Leverage Your Strengths
The entrepreneur definition doesn’t give a lot of credence to having a cool idea and then starting a business totally outside your wheelhouse. The entrepreneurial graveyard is littered with people who didn’t understand the meaning of entrepreneurship. They have a great idea one day, but nothing about how to do it.
That’s fine if you have a lot of resources at your disposal and can hire the right people to execute, but at that point, you’re more of an investor instead of a true entrepreneur. Instead, you’ll likely have the most success if your business idea has something to do with your specific skillset.
How many times have you heard someone talking about the mobile app they want to make but they don’t know how to code? Or maybe they have an idea about a new restaurant concept but have never worked in the food and beverage industry.
Just because you have no experience or expertise in a certain area doesn’t mean you’ll fail, but the odds are stacked against you. Most successful business entrepreneurship happens when people fill a need that they can address by doing it better, cheaper, or faster.
Leveraging your strengths also helps when adversity comes, or the market turns against you. You’ll have more willpower to weather the storm because you can fall into a routine where you’re working out of habit with the material you’re familiar with.
Find Out What Resources Are Available
Entrepreneurs have a lot of resources available to them for support. There are organizations like the Young Entrepreneur Council, technology incubators, and business associations where business owners share ideas and build the entrepreneurial spirit.
Joining an organization can be a lot like having a mentor. You can go to them to share successful business practices and lessons learned. They can talk about a new opportunity or help you with social media marketing. It’s another avenue business owners can leverage for learning as they push their companies forward.
Even though most entrepreneurs are hyper-focused on profit and innovation, you shouldn’t forget about effective financial management and tax efficiency. Keeping taxes low and tracking expenses put more money back into your pocket to invest in your business. It can mean the difference between success and failure.
Tend To Your Network
The best thing entrepreneurs can do is surround themselves with like-minded individuals who support you and what you’re doing. We’re not talking here about meaningless LinkedIn connections who you’ve never met. When you start a business there are going to be times when you’re discouraged and think about quitting. Having the right people around you who want you to succeed will matter.
Don’t just settle for your existing network. When you start a business, you never know where the opportunity will come from. You need to be in the mindset that helps you meet new people and develop relationships. You don’t need to be heavy on salesmanship, but growing your network is one of the best indicators of entrepreneurial success.
Start by searching for and attending industry events. They can be specific to the kind of business you’re starting, or a group that caters specifically to innovation and entrepreneurship. You’ll meet people you can partner with or guide you in the right direction to find answers to your questions.
Another important thing to note is that most entrepreneurs raise capital from their close connections. You’re not going to have easy access to venture capital until you’re a successful serial entrepreneur will multiple wins under your belt. If you need to raise money, it’s likely your first venture is going to be funded by close friends and families.
Knowing When To Hire
If you’re fortunate enough to make some sales or win some clients, you’ll eventually get to the point where you’re stretched too thin. Obsessive entrepreneurs can have a hard time letting go and hiring people to take on some responsibilities. Indeed, part of the entrepreneur definition is an almost maniacal focus on results. You feel like unless you’re doing it, it won’t get done correctly.
Eventually, though, as your business succeeds, you’re going to need help. Hiring the right people at the right time is critical to your company’s growth. Managing employees is the true test of an entrepreneur. It’s one of the biggest milestones on the entrepreneurial path. Can you lead people to achieve? How do you motivate others to accomplish what you assign them? Are you good at dealing with personal conflicts?
Luckily, organizational behavior and leadership are things that can be learned. Many successful business owners are introverted, better at working alone, or have bad tempers. They are, however, willing to learn and grow into their new role as leaders and managers.
To have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, you’ll have to learn how to push people when necessary and when to build them up when they need it. No one’s going to be doing it for you, but this is the challenge you’ve decided to take on.
Hold Yourself Accountable To Realistic Goals
Too often we associate entrepreneurial success with changing the world and having millions of people following your company or brand. The fact is, the vast majority of successes across the country are small and medium businesses serving the local communities and employing small teams.
It’s fine to have grand plans. Just recognize that the entrepreneurial definition leaves a lot of room for people who want to support their families while doing something they love. Owning a business is a great way to manage your lifestyle, make a great living, and make a difference in other people’s lives.
We say this to emphasize that you don’t need to make the goal of your business to become a billionaire or reinvent how people drive cars. Starting a business should be about finding a way to do something you’re good at that people are willing to pay you for.
Start by setting achievable goals that stretch you a bit. They shouldn’t all be grandiose with a high percentage of failure attached to them. There’s something to be said for shooting for the stars, but realistic milestones will give you cause for celebration and keep you on the right track.
Even the people we want to emulate so much like Bill Gates or Mark Cuban started small. Their big success was built on the backs of several small successes and failures along the way. They’d be the first to tell you that entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey.
Do Something You Enjoy, And You’ll Never Work A Day In Your Life
That’s how the saying goes, anyway. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not always going to be true. There will be days you’ll hate what you’re doing. A lot of people who start a business left a cushy job with a stable salary and benefits. They took on a lot of financial risks to start something on their own. There are always going to be days where you wonder what if you’d stayed in your corporate job a little longer?
However, nothing can replace the feeling of carving out a piece of economic growth that’s all yours. You’ll feel it in your bones with the first sale you make or seeing the prototype of the product that’s been bouncing around your head all these years. Only people who lay it all on the line get to experience the euphoria that entrepreneurship brings. Like so many things in life, the lows make the highs that much sweeter.
If you’re dreaming of a life where you call the shots and control your destiny, then entrepreneurship is for you. It takes more than an aspiration, though. To become a successful entrepreneur, you have to embrace the grind, to feel the passion deep within you that you’re going to make it no matter the cost. People will be drawn to work for you and partner with you. As long as you can execute, success is there for the taking.
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