How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur

Have you ever dreamed about becoming an entrepreneur? Do you have some grand vision or ambition of what do you want to achieve in your life? There are many stories of successful individuals disrupting and changing the world every day. Just imagine being one of those people. Imagine having chance to change the lives of other people for the better. Following the path of entrepreneurship is one of the ways to achieve it. In this post, I will give you a few tips to make this transition easier and smoother. Stop waiting and make your wildest dreams reality.

Pick the right type of business

OK. You are either confident or crazy enough to take the leap of fate and become an entrepreneur. Congratulations to this revelation. The first question coming on your mind will probably be, where should you start? The best option is to follow your passion. I know cheesy it may sound, but passion is key to keeping a business strategy moving. The hard reality, every veteran entrepreneur knows, is that there will be a lot of cloudy days when your motivation will be at the lowest level. You will want to quit, give up everything and just take a breath.

If you are in this situation, understand that you are not alone. We all, who has some prior business experiences, know how does it feels like to go through this. Anyway, in the hardest times your passion can serve you as a fuel to keep you going. Sure, you can be a successful entrepreneur even if you don’t give a damn about what are you selling, but it will be much harder. However, being able to use your passion as the last resort is huge advantage for every entrepreneur. That is the reason why creating your business around your passion is something you hear so often.

The benefit of having passion covering your back is that it works all the time. Meaning, when you are fired up, your passion will function as a catalyst and accelerate everything. On the other hand, when you will go through crisis, passion will be a fuel keeping your boat afloat and moving. Yes, half-heartedness in your entrepreneurial endeavor will chip away at your drive to succeed. Perseverance is the one thing that’s guaranteed to move anything over time, whether it’s a person, a job or an entire company. When perseverance meets passion, you are unstoppable.

Take Abraham Lincoln as an example. He failed at most of his efforts until late in his life. He had to work from a young age to support his family. He lost his job early on, failed in business and ended in dept. Just a few years later, his sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died. He was defeated in run for state legislature, for nomination for Congress, for U.S. Senate (twice), for nomination for Vice President, and also rejected for land officer position. The thing is that he never gave up. This is a great example of the spirit every entrepreneur should have.

Take small steps

When you decide to be an entrepreneur and start your own business, you can do it in two ways. First one, the more dangerous one is jumping all in. There are success stories about people who invested everything once and came out winners after couple years, but those are rare. These people and companies are almost like a mythical unicorns. Anyway, if you are willing to undergo such a feat, just do it. Otherwise, you should rather focus on taking smaller steps, one at the time.

No matter what way will you choose, keep in mind that good risk management is an essential factor in any startup or entrepreneurial adventure. It is much easier to absorb losses if they are coming in small doses, especially if you have no prior experiences in starting a business. Those will provide essential and productive lessons for the future. Taking smaller steps will also lower the tension and help you think ahead. Still, I am a proponent of all-in approach.

Learn from other people

When you will ask any successful entrepreneur for some advice, you will often hear you should work for others in your field of choice before striking out on your own. Spending a few years of your life in the industry under an excellent mentor is not waste of any type. It will provide you with great launching pad. One book, I am reading at this moment, on this subject is Mastery by Robert Greene. It will guide you through all the phases of apprenticeship, help you find the best mentors for you and gain mastery in subject of your choice. Here, is an interview with Robert Greene.

Understand, to become a successful entrepreneur you don’t have to undergo every challenge and risk everything you have. Meaning, you don’t have to start from the scratch. Instead, learn from your predecessors’ mistakes and successes and generate as many ideas about how to improve upon their model as you can. Next, find someone willing to teach you, mentor you, in-person and think about starting your business elsewhere when you leave. Remember that having access to mentor is one of the best and fastest way to learn.

What if you have no direct (personal) access to anyone? In that case, make use of everything you have available. Read books like biographies and business related literature to understand how business leaders think. Read a lot about your role models and learn from them. Also, use Internet to learn as much as possible. These materials can serve you as a mentors in some degree and help you gain necessary knowledge. However, books can get you only so far. You should still strive to get to touch with other successful entrepreneurs as soon as you can and as often as you can.

Know how to promote yourself

When it comes to success, confidence and a good elevator pitch are crucial for every entrepreneur. One of the most important tasks you as a founder have is to promote your business. That’s the fact. The first marketing in any company comes from its founder. So, take some time and learn as much as you can about how to share your vision without coming across as “salesy.” If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.

There are many tactics and information with various results you can learn from. However, the best strategy that works all the time is simple: focus on the customer. Understand what pain or problem your customer wants to get rid off or solve and suit your message to it. Remember, you are selling the solution to the problem.

Take action and build momentum

What all successful entrepreneurs have in common is that they are movers and shakers. As an entrepreneur you can’t afford to analyze every detail. Otherwise, you might become paralyzed and stuck on one place. Remember that trying to analyze and perfect every little detail of your business will never get you anywhere. It will only serve you as an excuse and there is no place for procrastination in the world business. Understand, being an entrepreneur is not like 9-5 job. It is a 24/7, no-vacation-or-sick-days adventure that demands constant forward momentum.

When you will want to start new venture, make a brief assessment at every step and move on it immediately. It will be uncomfortable for you in the beginning, but you have to learn to trust your instincts. They will lead you forward. When in doubt, take action to build momentum.

Create a plan and think about the future

When you read about successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, you will find that all of them have something in common. Their business ventures were not based on an extensive plan and all of them had some vision or goal in mind. Over-thinking the business plan is a mistake young entrepreneurs often make. They are trying to come up with 50+ page essay covering every possibility and option. Fortunately, a successful business plan does not have to be a book. A 10-page plan is digestible yet long enough to include everything you need to start.

Another key factor every successful business has is adaptability. Understand that every venture goes through a four stages process of the life cycle—from startup to growth to maturity and eventually to the transfer of assets. What’s more, market is not stationary and stable. It cycles through different stages on its own as well. In order to make your business resistant to these changes make sure to keep your business agile and your plan updated to reflect current needs and opportunities that will appear on the market.

Next, remember that running a successful company is a day-to-day challenge. It is easy to lose sight of the long-term goals and visions, so make sure you have the time and mental space to think about where both your business and you are headed. Write those goals down and keep them in your eye sight. Whenever you will feel like getting out of track, take a look at this document.

Another way to keep track of your current situation and future is keeping a journal. Having a journal will help you gain perspective on how you are progressing and dealing with the challenges you face. Use this journal to record everything you have on your mind. This include business ideas for new ventures, the things you are afraid of, the lessons learned from failures, previous successes, assumptions from observing the market and customers and so on. Simply said, get used to think on paper and write down everything.

Build a reputation

There is a great quote by successful investor and one of the richest people in the world Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Understand that in any business your reputation is what makes the difference. Why do you think so many people will rather pay more for products from companies like Apple, Amazon, GE, Nike or Starbucks? All of these companies and others built a solid reputation not only in their industries, but on the global market. In short, people trust them.

You don’t have to be billion dollar company to focus on follow the steps of these companies. It does not matter how big your company is. You can be a solo-entrepreneur focused on building smaller ventures and staying agile, but the fact will be the same. You will never succeed as an entrepreneur without building your reputation first. You can start building your reputation by maintaining a blog about your industry, volunteering your time and skills and being a part of the community in your industry. Just remember that expertise and trust will be a huge advantage.

Build your “A team”

First, the company is only as good as its weakest link in the chain. Second, company is built by people. The takeaway? In order to succeed, you have to find people with the skill sets and attitudes that support the culture of your company and brand. You want to keep only the best people in your team, the a players. This will foster innovation in your company and enhance your reputation. Having a great team of people with strong relationships will take your company on the next level. Remember that successful business is built on great people.

Learn empathy

Let’s follow the previous advice. Don’t believe that crap that business is not personal. If business is about anything, then it’s about the people. There are employees you have to take care of and customers to help. This all means one thing. You have to learn empathy. Forget about negativity and wasting your time, energy and money. This will only harm your reputation. Understand that success largely depends on making mistakes and taking the responsibility for it. You have to own your failures and face challenges head-on. The same thing applies to people you work with. This is what makes a great business owner a leader.

Making mistakes is critical step to learn. There is no better way to learn and improve than through trial and error. So, when one of your employees do a mistake, don’t release the dogs. Instead, make sure he will learn from it and never repeat that mistake again. This approach will make the company much better place to work and your employees happier.

The same applies to you as well. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and don’t let your business destroy your personal life. Taking care of yourself both mentally and physically so you can stay in the game for a long time. This means to exercise on a regular (daily) basis, getting enough sleep and following good diet. Also, don’t forget to take time to relax and play. Remember, if you work hard you should keep the balance by playing hard as well. Don’t postpone these things for later because they are what drive your attitude, motivation and relationships.

Take a look here at some examples of daily routines of successful CEOs. They all follow some kinds of structured daily schedule including the activities mentioned above to stay sharp and in the best shape. Otherwise, they would not be able to endure all the stress and demands of their business.

Always be willing to experiment

Before you can start your new life’s journey as an entrepreneur, you have to understand that every industry, and every business, faces constant change. You will need to stay flexible and keep changing if you want to be successful in the long-term. Like Bruce Lee said, you have to be like water. Meaning, stay away from following rigid models.

This does not mean you should bet your whole business all the time. Instead, focus on doing small experiments and making rather small changes. Use internal spinoffs, hackathons and pilot programs to try out new ideas in a safer way. Then, collect the data you will get and evaluate the results. If the experiment will seem to have positive effect, implement it. Otherwise, move on and try something else. Always be looking for chances of improvement and innovation.

You can be an entrepreneur in any age

The last thing you should understand is that in business, age is just a number. Today, we are constantly flooded with stories of success, many of them featuring people below thirty or even twenty years. If you are already above this line, nothing is lost. The truth is that many successful entrepreneurs started later in life. Take the author of Harry Potter J. K. Rowling, the creator of KFC Colonel Sanders, creator of McDonald’s Ray Kroc or founder of Wal-Mart Sam Walton as an example. They all started their wildly successful businesses much later in their lives.

Remember that age has nothing to do with how successful entrepreneur you will be. It is just a number. You can start your business whether you are in your twenties or just reached sixty. The only thing that your age will influence is the amount of experience you have. These experiences can give you a unique outlook on your business and find opportunities others would not see. Sometimes, starting out older will give you a better position and higher chances than to younger people, even if they are more educated.

Closing thoughts on be a successful entrepreneur

I don’t know if you are born as an entrepreneur or not. It is not important so I don’t even care about that. What is important is that everyone has the chance to take the leap and at least try it. Believe it or not, you can be the creator and master of your destiny. Stop relying on other people. Take the reins of your life into your own hands and get all what you want from life. Remember, being an entrepreneur is not just art or science. It is a lifestyle. It also has nothing to do with your age. It is in your blood. You live it and breath it every day. The opportunity is here. Take it.

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By Alex Devero

I'm Founder/CEO of DEVERO Corporation. Entrepreneur, designer, developer. My mission and MTP is to accelerate the development of humankind through technology.

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