For some, becoming an entrepreneur is the culmination of the (North) American Dream. It can be a thrill ride that leads to enormous wealth and a pathway to true freedom. But it carries with it a great deal of risk, especially at the beginning. It takes a real visionary with perseverance and determination to set out on their own and succeed. Besides these innate attributes, there are plenty of other attributes that make a successful entrepreneur. Here are 15 tips to help start-up entrepreneurs reach the top, presented in no particular order:
- Stay financially lean
Keeping expenses down, especially before your revenue stream is in place, is a good way to keep afloat as you get established. You don’t need fancy office space or furniture when you’re starting out. These things can wait until you start to show a profit.
- Decide where your time is best spent
you only have so much of it, so you can’t do everything. The places you give the most attention will do better than the places you don’t, so you need to make hard choices about what you will do–and what you won’t.
- Focus is key
the road to successful entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs, successes and failures and distractions of all descriptions. You must be able to weather all the storms while keeping focussed on the end game.
- The best entrepreneurs don’t come up with great ideas, they solve market needs
we could sit for hours coming up with brilliant ideas, but if they don’t solve a big enough market need, who cares?
- Keep business and personal wealth separate
DO NOT treat your business like an extended part of your finances. It must always be treated as a separate entity. Never put your finances in your business no matter how necessary it may seem. These two entities must be kept distinct to run a successful business.
- Emphasize culture
define it, communicate it, display it and make sure everyone believes in it. You can only move forward if everyone is looking in the same direction.
- Never beg for investment dollars
not looking for someone to do you a favour. They’re paying to be your partner, not the other way around.
- Network, network, network
everyone you meet is a possible useful contact for your company – as employees, clients or partners within your industry. Don’t make all of your networking the social type. Hit the streets, meet people face-to-face. Let people put a face to the name. Remember, if you’re starting out as a sole proprietor, that name and face are your brand!
- (Truly) Learn from your mistakes
you will make plenty of them, and that’s fine – as long as you find a lesson in them and don’t make a habit of repeating them.
- Have a thorough understanding of your market
It is very important to do an in-depth study of the market you work in and understand the needs of your ideal client. With the technology available today , getting to know and understand the basics and general flow of the industry is easy and essential – just a couple of clicks away.
- Take a job if you have to
your start-up isn’t going to bring in any cash as it, well, starts up. There is no shame in taking on another job – as anathema as that might be to an aspiring entrepreneur – to pay the bills. There is also a lot to be learned from bigger companies about how to run yours.
- Be prepared to give up control
you can try to micromanage the whole thing but if you do, the company will never grow bigger than one person – you – can effectively manage. You’ll create a bottleneck. Only by giving up a reasonable amount of control to the people you chose – presumably for their talents and expertise – will you get the best out of them.
- Keep your employees motivated
while this is important for all employees, everyone knows that every company – big or small – has a few star players, those men and women who can be constantly counted on to put the ball in the endzone and make the players that surround them better. It is important to identify them and reward them from time to time. This will keep them motivated and ensure they always bring their “A” game.
- Help every entrepreneur you can
today’s business world is smaller than you think. Building bridges is far more beneficial than burning them, and karma might just be a real thing. Every interaction with other entrepreneurs has the potential to be a learning experience, and you should be looking to learn something new every day.
- Don’t give up
As they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. Starting your own company is not. You will need serious grit and staying power. There will be bumps along the way, times you feel like you’re up against a wall. You might find that very little of what you try will work, and that you will fail more than you succeed. Until you succeed. And then, what a rush!
Becoming a successful entrepreneur takes a special kind of person with a whole lot of different attributes. Hopefully these 15 tips will give you a bit of a head start.