I am an entrepreneur. And I became one the hard way: minimal funding, a big idea, and lots of trial and error. Today, as a Master Business Coach, I work with people who want to be entrepreneurs or think they already are. I have the privilege to speak to thousands of people every year, all over the world, about business and how to start one. The one question I never tire of answering is what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. What’s that life like? What do I need to know and do?
Before you dive into the entrepreneurial pool, understand that if you don’t have a clear understanding of what you’re getting into, you might drown. Too many people graduate from business school with the wide-eyed expectation of being a billionaire entrepreneur with no idea of what it takes to survive as an entrepreneur, let alone thrive.
It can’t be that hard, right?
Most have absolutely no idea what it means.
The essentials are those things that they don’t teach you at B-School. It’s a mindset. Believe me, there is a reason that over 90% of all startups every year are broke within two years. Here are seven foundational realities you must fully embrace to call yourself an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must
- SACRIFICE: You’re on your own in most cases. You have no safety net. You have no sales staff. You have no marketing team. You have no income, no 401-K, no health insurance. Sometimes, you won’t have a paycheck. Sometimes, you must decide whether to make payroll or pay yourself. It’s all up to you. So how bad do you want it?
- FAITH: If you don’t have an unfailing belief in yourself, you may be very alone and lost. You must believe in yourself, even when it feels like no one else on the planet believes in you. You must believe in yourself and your vision. Bankers like that. Spouses like that. Investors love that. Employees model that. There is always that bell-weather moment in an entrepreneur’s life where you will realize that you’ve done enough planning and research, and it’s now time to take a deep breath and step out in faith. Are you ready to do that?
- WORK ETHIC: Most successful entrepreneurs are successful because they are willing to work hard and with extreme focus. They adopted the idea that the job isn’t done until it’s done right! If you can do it by sitting in a coffee shop and answering emails all day, then that’s okay. But it’s usually not the case. Remember, the world does not owe you a thing. You are going to have to work for it.
- COMMITMENT: Whatever your endeavor, you must be committed to it and be willing to do anything to achieve your vision. Anything. That means you must be committed to implementing and improving your vision if necessary. You must be ready and flexible to change and commit to the new and improved vision. Investors, bankers, advisors, partners, and employees will be watching to see how committed you are and how determined you remain when the going gets tough, and that can mean the difference between a long or a short business life span.
- RISK: Being an entrepreneur is knowing and understanding that there is always a RISK. You must be mentally prepared to take on these risks and their good and bad consequences. So, slow down a bit and think things through. Thoroughly understand all consequences, then move forward.
- ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES and HAVE A THICK SKIN: You will get criticized. You will be laughed at. You will be stabbed in the back and betrayed by people you trust. People will lie to you and talk behind your back. And you’ll also learn who your friends really are and aren’t. If you let these things bother you, don’t become an entrepreneur. You must persevere, always with the vision and result in mind.
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! Whatever you do, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you must never give up. No matter what happens, you must keep your dream alive. Because when you do and begin to win and then perpetuate the momentum, make a difference, and grow the possibilities, there is nothing like it on earth. It’s intoxicating.
The transition from “I CAN DO THIS!” to “I DID IT!” is intense and euphoric.
Yes, you did! YOU DID IT, and you’ll want to do it again. I guarantee it!
If you struggle with this or other business issues, this is what I do as a Master Business Coach. Call or write me at any time. I’m open for business.