Many people dream about leaving their job to start a business. The allure of making a lot of money and appearing on TV as a success story is tempting.
Shark Tank, anyone?
Being a successful entrepreneur provides those rewards and many others. Since being an entrepreneur is so advantageous, why isn’t everybody doing it?
Nobody can guarantee that you will be successful if you take the path less traveled.
Entrepreneurship has as many pitfalls as perks, and many aspiring entrepreneurs have discovered that the hard way.
Some lost everything in their pursuit of money and fame.
Having expertise and education in a particular field is important but there’s definitely a collection of traits one needs to make it work.
Studies show that most successful entrepreneurs have similar beliefs, personality traits and mentalities.
We hear the success stories of the accomplished entrepreneur but it’s not often that we see the journey that brought them to the finish line.
Here’s the truth.
They encountered numerous setbacks and failures to reach their success.
Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different methods before finally inventing the light bulb.
Henry Ford failed in two businesses before starting the Ford Motor Company.
So, what’s it take to be today’s Edison or Bezos? Let’s start with taking the plunge to be your own boss.
Make The Decision
Dreaming about being a successful entrepreneur might make you feel good, but it won’t bring you closer to it. The day you decide to do it is the day you’ve actually set things in motion.
You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?
Once you’ve made the decision to embrace the journey, the first step is to determine if your idea is viable. That means determining if a market exists for the service or product you plan to offer. (1)
The key question to ask yourself should be:
Does the market need what I’m offering, and will they pay for it?
If the answer is yes, then you have a viable business.
Viability is essential, but it doesn’t come without its share of risks.
One of the most crucial aspects of any venture is identifying any inherent risks, and asking yourself whether or not you’re up for handling them without quitting.
The reason that most people choose entrepreneurship is that they are natural risk-takers. They love the excitement that the unknown brings and thrive in challenging environments.
Starting a business has inherent risk.
Although most entrepreneurs are positive about their venture, success is never guaranteed. To minimize risk, entrepreneurs should evaluate several factors.
The first risk is financial.
Funds are required to start the business, so entrepreneurs need to determine a budget and conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Beyond that you really have to know whether you’re willing to risk all or some of your investment.
If the entrepreneur borrows money from a financial institution, can he or she pay it back if the business fails? (2)
The other factors that entrepreneurs need to consider include market, competitive and reputation risk. Starting a business from scratch will require the entrepreneur to work long hours, resulting in limited family time. Is he or she prepared to make those sacrifices to succeed?
After evaluating the risk, entrepreneurs who decide to delve into their venture will experience a certain lifestyle.
A Day In The Life Of
The students of Draper University asked Elon Musk for his advice about starting a business. His response was, “It's like eating glass and staring into the abyss. Don’t do it.” (3)
Although Musk’s message was outwardly dour, he was likely pointing out that most people tend to idealize being one’s own boss.
In other words, they put entrepreneurship on a pedestal and overlook the sacrifices and the stress involved.
While entrepreneurship can be difficult, many successful entrepreneurs have said that the journey was worth it for them.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said that he wakes up at 3:45 am. Richard Branson is up at five. They wake up early to use as much of their day as possible. Many entrepreneurs use the early morning hours to check their email, watch the news and prioritize their day.
They schedule their day so that they don’t waste a second. Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, has the most important meetings first so that he doesn’t have to make important decisions at the end of the day when his energy has depleted. (4)
Working 15- or 16-hour days is common for successful entrepreneurs. Elon Musk ends his day at 1 am by checking his emails. Since days as an entrepreneur are long and fraught with problems, what makes them stick it out?
“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did,” said Steve Jobs.
Almost all entrepreneurs agree that you have to love what you do to be successful at it. Your passion for it is all you have left when everything goes against you.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said that every day of his life is a vacation. He wakes up at six forty-five and spends 80 percent of his day reading. Buffett echoed Jobs’ words about loving what you do and said that he doesn’t need to work; he does it because he loves it. (5)
The biggest challenge that most entrepreneurs face is cash flow. Without money, no business can survive. One of the biggest reasons that businesses fail is due to poor cash flow management. (6)
Every entrepreneur needs to create cash flow management to ensure their business’ survival. Surrounding yourself with astute financial advisers such as accountants and consultants helps in making good decisions.
The other challenge that most successful entrepreneurs faced was raising capital. That wasn’t only applicable to starting the business but also for innovation and growth.
Apart from borrowing money from financial institutions, entrepreneurs used crowdsource funding, angel investors, and selling of shares.
To conquer all the challenges of business, an entrepreneur needs to possess key characteristics.
Believing in yourself and your business is the key to its success. If you don’t believe that it’s going to work, who will?
The reason that Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk were the pioneers of their industry is that they believed in their ideas when most people couldn’t realize the utility in their products.
We’ve mentioned risk, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the aforementioned entrepreneurs had high-risk tolerance. A study concluded that 96 percent of start-ups fail. (7)
Another characteristic all of them had in common was the stubbornness to pursue their passion. Bezos left a Wall Street job to start Amazon from his garage. Gates dropped out of Harvard University, and Musk used millions of dollars from the sale of one company to start another.
When the going gets tough, only the ones who don’t quit survive. Numerous entrepreneurs have stated that the key to success is persevering when everything seemed to be going against them.
“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they don't quit,” said Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels. (8)
If you have the skills and characteristics, are all the problems that entrepreneurs face worth it?
Jeff Bezos started in his garage and obtained a net worth of $153.5 billion. (9) Elon Musk is worth just over $20 billion.
Successful entrepreneurs obtain massive wealth, but the more important aspect is what the money allows them to do.
Bill Gates has donated more than $36 billion to charitable causes. (10) Jeff Bezos donated $2 billion to fund non-profit schools and homeless charities. (11)
Then there’s the matter of something called job creation. A politician said that governments don’t create jobs, businesses do. Without entrepreneurs, economic prosperity and job creation would be impossible.
Bezos’ company, Amazon, employees more than 600,000 people. (12) Gates’ business, Microsoft, employes more than 130,000. Most of those employees have a few dependants that rely on the salary received from these colossal organizations.
What about the legacy that successful entrepreneurs leave behind?
Almost a hundred years after their death, Andrew Carnie and John D. Rockefeller are business owners who remain unforgotten. They achieved so much success in business that they have been subjects of success studies and referred to often.
Walt Disney passed away in 1966, yet his theme park remains. John D. Rockefeller passed away more than 80 years ago, but the Rockefeller Center is a historic landmark.
Who Can Do It
Some entrepreneurs have succeeded and most have failed. Regardless of their background and outcome, all of them had one thing in common - they were risk-takers.
As Bill Gates said, “To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.” (13)
We’ve seen college dropouts make billions of dollars. Some Hollywood actors started off by living in their car while pursuing their dreams. Although failure is probable, success is possible.
The least likely people considered to succeed did just that. They endured countless setbacks and had several failed businesses. It was their perseverance that propelled them to success.
They attained wealth, respect and became philanthropists. Most of them have or will leave a legacy behind.
Having a job grants you the security of having a paycheck. It doesn’t require much risk. It also won’t make you rich and leaving a legacy is highly improbable.
All of us have the ability to make a decision to become an entrepreneur and to take risks. We have the opportunity to create jobs and to build buildings.
The question is, will it be you?