Being an entrepreneur sounds sexy, doesn’t it? You are your own boss, running your own business, setting your own schedule, making more money… who doesn’t want that?
Which is why people dream about this idea of doing their own thing. Yet most don’t have a clue as to what it really takes to start a business.
When I was 14 years old, carrying dirty dishes at an Italian Restaurant in West Bloomfield, Michigan for $2.50 an hour + tips… I said to myself… “Self, working for someone else SUCKS.”
Very wise for a 14 year old, don’t you think? I just didn’t like the fact that I was doing all the “dirty work”, while someone else was raking in all the dough.
This was way before I read any personal development books and all that. But for some reason this thought kept rolling around in my head… “I’d rather own this restaurant than work in it.” Now, I never really wanted to own one, but I did want to be my own boss and do my own thang.
And 3 years later, I got the bright idea of starting my own business with a friend of mine.
I was working for about a year in a jewelry business together with my buddy, so naturally I thought I was ready to launch one. A business I was advised both by my family and by the jewelers my friend and I worked for during the day, to NOT get into.
And of course I didn’t listen to anyone, and proceeded to dump several thousand bucks (most of it I borrowed) into my very first business.
Bought new equipment (on credit). Really dumb.
Made business cards. Dumb.
Leased an office to set up shop. Kinda dumb.
Made a brand new ring, got in my car and drove all over town, walking into every jewelry store trying to land some orders. Very smart.
We had some orders, repair jobs, and small projects here and there. Long story short, a year later we were OUT of money and OUT of business. Oh, and my dead beat partner (friend) bailed on me. And since I was the one who borrowed the money, I was stuck with repaying the rest.
Although at the time I felt like a complete failure, it was actually the BEST thing that could have happened to me at such a young age. That experience didn’t stop me. In fact it made me want to pursue business even more.
All this happened over 20 years ago, and since then I’ve been involved in many different things, such as direct sales, selling financial services, creating a number of products I sold online, launching 2 different businesses selling consumer goods, and creating marketing campaigns for some big internet players.
While you can write volumes about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, here are 4 absolute musts.
1. You must be super disciplined
Most people who start a business come from the traditional 9 to 5. For some it could have been 8 to 8. But regardless, they had a place to show up, and work to do that was created for them by someone else.
The day you set up shop on your own, there is no one else that’s going to “give” you work to do. You have to go create it yourself.
I got some really good advice from a successful entrepreneur and self-made millionaire.
He said… “People ask me all the time, where do I start. What you do is pick up a rock, throw it up in the air and wherever it lands is where you start. And you keep going and never ever stop.”
Wise piece of advice that stuck with me.
As an entrepreneur you need to be a self-starter. You need to be able to create work for yourself out of thin air. It usually requires a combination of creativity and some hustle. And you need to have the discipline to do it no matter how you feel.
2. Your ideas need to have legs
Meaning, big ideas are great. But these ideas need to address a problem people have and are willing to pay for.
Too many eager entrepreneurs jump in without giving this much thought. They’re so in love with their idea, they don’t consider if there’s a “proven” market for it.
Proven meaning there are people who have already demonstrated their desire and willingness to buy this. If you don’t have a proven market, you better have some money to test your idea to make sure it’s viable.
I hate to break it to you, but people could care less about your product or how much time, effort, energy and money you may have put into creating it. They don’t care how passionate you are.
At the end of the day, the only thing people care about is “what’s in it for them.”
And if that sounds harsh, than you better get out of the kitchen before it gets too hot. Because this is the brutal truth.
You need to find a burning problem people have and are willing to pay for the solution. Or risk having your idea end up in the junk yard full of them.
3. You must be willing to fail
Setbacks, disappointments and temporary failure is inevitable. And dealing with it sounds much easier than it really is.
You must be willing to fail and face rejection.
You must be willing to burn through cash without any return, because at some point every entrepreneur does.
And if you’re not willing to do it, than it’s best to stick to a job.
Where there is no risk, there is no potential for return. Plain and simple.
4. You must learn how to market and sell
Even the best ideas need a marketing campaign.
People aren’t going to beat a path to your door. You have to go find them and show them your product.
It can be an ad, it can be your content like blogs and videos. But however you do it, there must be a marketing plan in place to attract the right prospects for your product. And a sales system to turn those prospects into paying customers.
If you’re contemplating starting your business and becoming a entrepreneur, keep those four things in mind.
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