At one point or another, almost every person has a grand idea for a business. Some people pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and venture into the uncharted waters; others abandon their efforts for something “safer.” Of those individuals that take the plunge, there is only a small group that succeeds and profits.
There are thousands of guides, books, seminars, videos, and how-to articles (like the one you are reading) dedicated to discussing the path towards becoming a successful entrepreneur. But, the truth is that rarely do these materials consider how hard the road ahead is because, if they did, no one would be left in the audience wanting more.
It’s easy to paint a picture where the entrepreneurial world is filled with whimsical startups that skyrocket to six figures overnight, but the path to that echelon of success is littered with once-been entrepreneurs and failed businesses. This isn’t meant to dissuade you from following your dreams and becoming your own business owner, but rather to push the point that it is far from easy, despite what any get-rich-quick entrepreneurial book may have you believe.
That said, owning your own business is an incredibly rewarding experience, whether you succeed or not. There are a lot of questions at the beginning, but there’s something soulful about seeing a dream or an idea to its end. And, the hard work and lessons learned along the way will be invaluable, no matter what your next venture is.
While there is no secret formula or shortcut to success, the following kernels of advice and insight will help you on your way.
Failure Isn’t An “If” But A “When”
Failure comes in a lot of shapes and sizes; some failures are bigger than others. There’s no guarantee for entrepreneurs except that, at some point or another, you’re going to face some failure. Even the best in the biz take significant risks that don’t always end up being so fruitful. It’s part of what makes becoming an entrepreneur so unique and rewarding.
Significant failures will hurt, a lot. They may put an end to your entrepreneurial dreams altogether. But, failure is as bad as you let it be. If you let it keep you down, then it will. Real success comes from your ability to turn a negative into a positive. A small stumble may just open the door to a much bigger opportunity for success.
In a lot of ways, your small failures offer invaluable learning opportunities. The sooner you can learn to accept these failures and appreciate them as an opportunity to grow, the faster and easier you will find it to pick yourself up and keep going stronger than you were before.
Planning And Taking Action
There isn’t a business owner or entrepreneur alive that would advocate against careful planning. Without a detailed plan, your chances of success are diminished even more because you don’t have the roadmap you need to show you where you’ve been, what routes have earned you the highest returns and where you should be moving next. A great plan is the skeleton of a successful business.
Many would-be entrepreneurs get caught up in the planning. You often hear of business experts talking about having an actionable plan. Far more often, however, you listen to entrepreneurs talking about ideas that never come to fruition. Your method is only as robust as your ability to follow through and act. Many entrepreneurs take a safer route and become a franchise owner, affiliate, or white label reseller to mitigate some of the risks.
Entrepreneurs have to be fast-moving and even faster acting. Plans are grand, but too much planning can cripple your progress. Successful entrepreneurs understand when it is time for brainstorming, planning and reflecting and when it is time for action (most of the time it is the latter).
If you want something done, you have to take action and go out and get it. Success is no different.
Speartip Your Startup
Speartipping your startup means having a singular focal point; something that you are going to do better than anyone else and drive through the competition. You can call it a unique selling point, your niche market, golden purpose, or any other creative term you can come up with; it is the one thing or strategy that you are going to be the best at. This is critical advice for startups, as many of these fresh businesses try and hit the ground running and doing everything at once. That’s a fast way to burn yourself (and your business) out.
When you sharpen your business with just a single focus or direction, it becomes much easier to produce quality efforts that will rival the competing companies that have been in the game longer. This is a critical strategy in gaining an edge in the market and drawing the attention of customers. Whenever there is an opportunity to offer something better or unique from the rest of the market, you’re going to have success.
Entrepreneurs are often plagued by having too many great ideas pulling them in seventeen different directions at once. In the words of Adrian Monk: “It’s a gift and a curse, but mostly a curse.” You can ensure that it is a gift by taking it one great idea at a time. Once you’ve established a solid foothold with your spear tipped startup idea, you can begin exploring new avenues.
If You’re Not Grinding, You’re Losing
There’s no shortcut or secret ingredient to success. But, there is one not-so-secret factor that will make or break your chance at success: hard, tireless work. This may go without saying, but a shocking number of budding entrepreneurs are already dreaming of sitting on a beach, working from a laptop and sippy drinks and they haven’t even left their nine-to-five job yet. If you’re averse to hard work and long days, don’t bother.
Again, this is the illusion that many entrepreneurial guides and experts cast on audiences; this idea that anyone can succeed at becoming a successful entrepreneur (as long as you follow their advice, of course). That’s a beautiful sentiment, and it sells seats at seminars, but it’s not the truth. It takes some serious determination and drive to succeed in starting a fresh business or raise that great idea you have to something real, tangible, and money making.
Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t a nine-to-five gig. It’s a constant and never-ending grind. The more you put in, the more you get out of it. But, you have to be willing to invest the time and the money if you want that laptop at the beach and drinks with the umbrellas.
Listen And Learn, Always
Your grind is never over, and neither is your opportunity to grow and learn. Your journey towards becoming a successful entrepreneur is going to be a never-ending lesson, and every day there is a new teacher. Thus, you should always have your ears and mind open to the thoughts that others share, whether they are your business partner, an employee, a fellow entrepreneur, your grandmother, or anyone else with a bit of advice. You never know where or when the insight you need to succeed is going to come.
Tomorrow is always going to bring new challenges, many of which you’ve probably never seen before or had to face. Having a roster of veteran entrepreneurs and business owners available for you to brain pick and acquire insight from is an invaluable resource to have as a budding entrepreneur.
The best part is that the majority of the best entrepreneurs out there never rest (a gift and a curse, but mostly a curse, remember?), so there’s always a new Twitter post or blog for you to pour over and extract actionable information from. Just like the entrepreneurial grind, the more effort you put into learning, the more you’ll get out of it.
There’s no sugarcoating it here and, again, that isn’t meant to disenchant you from becoming an entrepreneur. If you’ve already stepped across the threshold and taken the plunge in starting your own business, don’t panic. In fact, you should be thankful because you’ve just entered an incredible journey that, no matter the outcome, will be rewarding on the scale of life-changing.
Being thankful is something that a lot of entrepreneurs forget about and don’t practice enough. All too often do business owners find themselves in a swamp of doubts. Every entrepreneur, even the great ones, has found themselves awake at night asking questions like, “Why are my profits so low?” or “Why is my business not growing?”
All of these late night wonderings are essential questions to ask, but they shouldn’t distract you from what’s happening around you. You have the unique pleasure of being your own boss, creating something new, making connections with customers and a bunch of other opportunities that many people never get to enjoy, for better or worse.
It takes a special person to be a successful entrepreneur. Whether you’re about to take that journey for the first time, still teetering on the edge, or already on your way to (hopefully) becoming a successful business owner, you’ve got a crazy ride ahead of you. The best advice is to strap in and enjoy it.