This article was originally posted on garywhitehill.com
As the global economy undergoes more changes (and it will continue to do so) even more people will choose to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. Changes to corporate mindsets, downsizing and other upheavals in the “safe” world of formal employment are forcing many to embrace entrepreneurship, and start their own small businesses. Add to those the people with the burning desire to “be their own boss” and you have plenty of new entrants into the wonderful, frightening, exciting and exhausting world of being a business owner.
Whatever your reasons for considering entrepreneurship instead of formal employment, there are a few traits you will need to cultivate in order to succeed.
It sounds like a no brainer, but the most important factor in your success in entrepreneurship is passion for your business. We’ve all had jobs we hate, and let’s face it – it doesn’t inspire you to work incredibly hard, or give your all, does it? Don’t think just because you are working for yourself, that will change!
If you’re bored to tears or just plain hate working on your business, you’re unlikely to give it the energy it needs to succeed. So find something you love doing, and you will have a solid foundation for building a successful new business venture.
2. Plan, Plan, and Then Plan Some More
There’s an old saying ‘Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.’ That’s never been more true than when applied to entrepreneurship.
You need concrete, quantifiable goals, as well as a 30, 60, 90 day strategy on how to get there. Having a plan provides a framework, something fixed to work toward, which will help keep you focused. Get your eyes on the prize and a plan onto paper before you start trying to set up your new business. A handy trick is to imagine your goal is already achieved, and then think back through the steps it took to get there.
3. Be Disciplined
It sounds romantic and exciting to “be the boss,” doesn’t it? Trust me – it’s not, especially at first anyway. In fact, before you get to that fancy corner office with five assistants, there is going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears poured into your entrepreneurship dream. You need to work harder for yourself, and your business goals, than you ever would for any boss. That means an unlimited and indefinite amount of hours dedicated toward achieving your goal – keeping your nose firmly to the grindstone. Remember, luck is an accumulation of hard work.
4. Be a Cheapskate
Whether you have a big budget or not when you first venture into the game of entrepreneurship, you need to learn the value of frugality – bootstrap your way to success. Most small businesses fail to take time to break-even, let alone become profitable. Thus, when you’re starting out, finding cheaper and more innovative ways to accomplish tasks is one of the best skills you can learn. Think outside of the box and in terms of leverage. The longer you can stretch your capital, and the more you can save – the better for your business and your mental sanity.
5. Understand That You Are Always Marketing and Selling
ABS – Always Be Selling. Most of us think that marketing and sales is a task. However, when you jump into the wonderful world of entrepreneurship – more than at any other time in your life – everything is about marketing and selling. Don’t be shy to network, discover what your clients want, and broadcast to others that you want their business.
Treat every moment as a selling opportunity, and you will see results:
- Carry business cards with you everywhere
- Have a thirty second pitch ready at all times
- Make a point of meeting people who are your target market – those who should buy your product/service
6. Know That Your Client Is the Most Important Person in Your Business
Success or failure in entrepreneurship hinges on your ability to make your clients want to do business with you. Since repeat business is the backbone of any successful business – your client’s happiness should be priority number one.
Remember the little things. Something as simple as calling a customer back can swing the balance in your favor. Always, always, always put your client first. Build relationships, and you will see your business grow right alongside them.
7. Remember That In Business, Image Is Important
Okay, this one is a bit of a catch twenty-two. You need a professional business image, but you haven’t got the budget. Luckily though, projecting the right image is not all about flashy cars and the right business address. With the information age, you can work from your living room and still have a professional image.
All you need to do is:
- Make sure you are always well dressed and well spoken
- Have a professional looking (not necessarily expensive) website and email address
- Have professional looking business cards
When you’re first starting out, simply focus on little things – those which you can control with the resources you have. The fancy business address can come later, but make sure to get the basics right first.
And….. Now for the Good News
If you’re reading this and wondering where to start on your quest for entrepreneurship, there is one good piece of news for you. Entrepreneurs are not born – they are made.
If some of these things seem beyond you, learn them. Take a course in selling if you have to. Download planning software if you need some help becoming organized. Figure out where your weaknesses are, and work on them in small bits each and every day. In the aggregate you will achieve an exponential return on your investment.
Everyone has the capacity for entrepreneurship in some respect, if you want it bad enough (and you can), success will undoubtedly find you.
As a successful, under-30 serial entrepreneur, Gary’s game-changing endeavors have been featured on television and in magazines and newspapers across the nation. Gary is a member of the AOL Small Business Board of Directors and the founder of New York Entrepreneur Week (NYEW), The Relentless Foundation and Whitehill International, each of which reflect his entrepreneurial drive and relentless energy. Visit his website and follow him on twitter.
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