Entrepreneurs are truly a unique breed. You might even go as far as to say there are only two types of people in the world: entrepreneurs and everyone else. They’re dreamers and doers, the people who come up with ideas that are crazy enough to work and then set about bringing those ideas into reality. They constantly wear many hats and never stop learning.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy. A lot of people fall in love with the idea of the rewards that entrepreneurship brings and the lifestyle it provides — however, the process of getting there can be a deterrent. I say this because someone’s “overnight success” typically takes months or even years to make happen.
Here are some stats and facts to know about entrepreneurship:
- The top motivation for someone to open a business is that they’re ready to become their own boss.
- 69% of entrepreneurs start their business at home.
- $10,000 is the average startup capital.
- 82% of startup funds come from the entrepreneur or their family and friends.
For those who do venture down the entrepreneurship route and experience success early on or as they continue on their path, it’s important to know that you can’t count on yesterday’s wins to get you through the coming days.
Personally, I don’t think there’s a clear path to running a profitable business. There are methodologies and practices you can put into place, but to say that there is one clear path that will work for everyone just isn’t true. What I believe works really well is the following:
- Having a clear vision for what you want out of life and aligning your personal and professional goals around that.
- Having a market that’s readily in demand for what you have to offer.
- Discipline for your craft. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”
- Being able to embrace failure as part of success and to keep learning.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just about going 100% in with your business idea; I see it also as starting a side hustle to generate any sort of income that can contribute to the betterment of your life. If you make the decision to become an entrepreneur based solely on making money, you’ll come across challenges that won’t keep you in the game for very long.
Rather, focus on what you’re good at and what you’re truly passionate about. Doing so will keep you going when times get hard and keep you motivated to learn the newest trends in your industry. Entrepreneurship should be looked at as a long-term plan.
1. Think Long-Term
Picture this: you just got a few new clients. You’re so excited at the prospect of more business, so you extend your working hours. Soon, you find yourself staying up until midnight a couple of times per week to keep up with the workload. Eventually, you’re working a couple of hours on your days off, too. At first, you really don’t mind doing this because it means you’re dedicated and getting shit done. You have something great to show for it, and your bottom line looks healthy.
It should be no surprise that sooner rather than later, you’re going to burn out if you stay on this track. You’re working more than you used to and sacrificing time off — time that could be better spent relaxing, enjoying time with friends or family, or doing things that interest you. Eventually, you may come to resent your business and want out because it never gives you a break.
This is just one of many examples I’ve seen entrepreneurs make that leads to burnout, but the premise is the same: they weren’t making long-term decisions.
There’s nothing wrong with staying up late one night on occasion to wrap up a client project or get ahead, but it’s not something you want to do for the long term. There’s no way that working 16 hour days plus time on the weekends can be sustainable, especially if you have a family and other responsibilities.
When making decisions, you should be viewing each one through two lenses: the short-term impact and the long-term gains. Know when an activity isn’t sustainable and have a plan to cut it off before it leads to burnout.
2. Believe You Can
There’s something to be said about a powerful mindset. You need to be your own cheerleader when you’re setting goals. Even if you have others around you that want to see you succeed, it’s ultimately up to you to make it happen.
This means believing in yourself. If you can’t buy into your own ambitions, then you’re likely going to fall short of your goal. Break down your goal into smaller steps that you truly believe you can handle. If something seems out of reach to you, step back and ask yourself why.
Perhaps you don’t have all the tools or knowledge you need to achieve that goal, or maybe it seems too complicated based on current circumstances. Whatever it is that’s holding back your faith, see how you can address it so you can give your goals your unwavering commitment.
Remember, everything you see happening around you started as someone’s goal. There’s a lot that can be achieved in this world, including whatever it is you set out to do (as long as you believe you can).
3. Know Your Purpose
People follow the entrepreneurial journey for a variety of reasons. Some of them like the idea of being their own boss and calling the shots. Others think it’s their ticket to a higher salary. You might see it as a way to give back to communities and help others through innovative solutions.
Your reasons are your own. But what you don’t want to do is go into entrepreneurship thinking it’s a get-rich-quick strategy. In fact, the road to riches as an entrepreneur is often long and slow. There are tons of twists and turns along the way that you may or may not be expecting, and once you pass over one mountain, there are usually five or six more looming in front of you.
Entrepreneurs usually don’t even take a salary in their first year in business. And those who do pay themselves usually end up taking less than what they were making when working for someone else.
A higher salary is a good goal to have, but it’s not something you can expect right out of the gate. Instead, focus on your purpose and let that be your driving force.
4. Merge Passion and Practicality
Business success is all about balancing your risks. If you only take steps that you’ve measured, studied, and calculated, you won’t be trying anything new. You’re likely to get lost in the sea of competitors.
On the other hand, if you fly by the seat of your pants and let your passion make your decisions, you’re likely to make too many wrong turns for your wallet to handle.
The key is to balance the two. Understand what your passion is and keep your inspiration, but find practical, reliable ways to make it profitable.
For example, perhaps you have a real estate agency and you have a mission to bring homeownership to low-income families. As wonderful as that goal is, you won’t be able to reach it for long if you give away your services for free to make home-buying more affordable. You need to find other ways to make your dream happen.
5. Do Work You Love
Being engaged in your craft so that you are consistently motivated, driven, committed, and productive will help you thrive as an entrepreneur. Sure, there will be days when you want to lay back and focus more on self-care without having to solely think about work. But know that when you’re doing what you love for work, it stays top-of-mind regardless of what you’re doing and becomes an integral part of your life.
Other key reasons to do work that you love:
- You won’t just be working for vacations or weekends.
- You will have a greater purpose than just making money.
- The money will absolutely follow.
- You won’t feel like you’re just stuck doing chores you hate.
- You won’t half-ass your work.
- You will want to add real value to your target customers.
6. Keep Learning
Having the humility to openly state that you don’t know everything and that you’re in a state of learning will help you excel. Because let’s face it: doing business with a know-it-all can feel like a constant uphill climb. In fact, the clients that I’ve had a longer-lasting relationship with are the ones who walk in and know exactly where their expertise lies compared to mine. Doing this allows us to work collaboratively.
When you push yourself to continually learn, you’re also able to do the following:
- Be more approachable.
- Begin to look at how you can position your offering around your target customers’ needs and challenges rather than just serving your own.
- Keep up-to-date on trends within your own industry and can be steadfast with changes.
- Build your knowledge base and apply that to your own business.
7. Get Used to Failure and Rejection
Failure is often the price of success. Many times, it takes trial and error to get your product or service just right. And even then, you may find yourself facing setbacks that keep you from success.
Some of the world’s most famous names failed multiple times before they ever struck it big. Warren Buffett was rejected by Harvard Business School when he was 19 years old, which led him to Columbia University and two investors who helped to shape the model for Berkshire Hathaway. Steve Jobs’s first Apple development, the Apple I computer, sold just 175 units, and he was eventually kicked out of his own company. If he were alive today, experts believe he’d be richer than Bill Gates.
But just as failure doesn’t automatically disqualify you from entrepreneurship, instant success doesn’t mean you were born for this journey either.
At some point, you’ve got to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities to grow as an entrepreneur. A few early successes might not prepare you for future challenges. Likewise, many entrepreneurs don’t have what it takes to fail over and over with nothing to show for it.
It’s really important you learn to love the process of it all and within that is where you tend to see the failures and rejections the most. Going through the process, being patient with it, and pushing yourself along the way will lead you to success. The goal is to make sure that you have enough grit to not give up before you hit the ground running. Remember, entrepreneurship is a long-term lifestyle. No shortcuts.
Wrapping It Up
As a general rule, entrepreneurs have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. They’re the ones who ask the tough questions and dive deeper into things that typically never hit other people’s radars.
Entrepreneurs tend to read a lot, especially books written by experts in their field or self-help books that can help them develop successful habits that will prove useful in their ventures.
Most importantly, entrepreneurs that are always asking “Why?” are the ones who are able to uncover problems that need solving and develop solutions that solve those problems. We see this happening a lot in the tech industry, specifically with software-as-a-service solutions that are being developed to tackle just about any type of problem in any industry. If you are someone who loves learning and improving, you might have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.