How to be an Entrepreneur

‘A strong work ethic is in the DNA of every successful entrepreneur’

There is a reason why there is such a plethora of books written by entrepreneurs and it is not just because there are a lot of entrepreneurs – it is because there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach – every entrepreneur will have his or her unique tale about the obstacles they have had to overcome and the many highs and lows on their journey to the top.

However, there are a few common themes that every budding entrepreneur should be aware of to avoid costly results that will almost certainly end in failure.

  1. Ask yourself some honest questionsBefore you embark on the thrilling journey that is ‘becoming a successful entrepreneur’, you first have to ask yourself some honest questions about your personal circumstances. If you are looking for a regular pay cheque to pay your mortgage or the school fees, or if your partner is going to be worried and stressed that you don’t have a steady job, you may be starting your business on very fragile foundations. Entrepreneurs experience many pressures on their business along the way – these are not ones you should start out with.
  2. Ask yourself whether you can really give your business your full attentionA strong work ethic is in the DNA of every successful entrepreneur. To be successful, an entrepreneur must be devoted to their business 365 days a year, 24 hours a day – so, if you can’t dedicate yourself to building your empire around the clock, I strongly suggest you don’t waste your time starting.
  3. Define what success looks like
    Once you have decided that you are prepared to give it everything you have got, then you need a clear vision of what success looks like; many businesses fail because success has not been defined, so they never reach that target. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to crystal-ball gaze and know where you are heading and what you expect success to look like when you get there. Set yourself milestones that you expect to achieve: this will help you to keep your focus on targets.
  4. Be ready to adaptThe path to becoming a successful entrepreneur has a multitude of twists and turns – navigating this journey is the key to business success. You need to be flexible: the only constant is change. That doesn’t mean your vision changes but you may have to find new paths to get there and that is where the creativity of the successful entrepreneur is needed
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  5. Understand the competitive landscapeKnowledge is power and you can only be a leader if you know what you are competing against rather than operating in a knowledge vacuum. You need to know who the other key players in your space are and have an understanding about their ambitions, strengths and weaknesses. So clearly define what your key differentiator is and ensure that it remains relevant and does not get diluted along the way.
  6. Surround yourself with the very best peopleYour team is critical to your success. As your business grows, you need to ensure you have the right people to support your growth. Always invest in the very best people you can afford and make sure they share your values and vision for the future so that you can build a strong company culture.
  7. Recognise your strengths and weaknessesWhilst an entrepreneur often has to multi-task, you need to recognise the extent of your abilities. For example, marketing is mission critical – you can have the greatest innovation or product but if you can’t promote it properly, it will fail. Seek out specialists to support you in your drive to market.
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  8. Ensure you can fund your successOne of the biggest problems entrepreneurs face is funding their businesses. It is easy enough at the beginning, but as your business evolves you will need to make serious investments: those who have failed to plan ahead will falter. The trick is to never borrow money when you really need it. Anticipate your needs and fund ahead; the worst day to negotiate a renewal of a facility is on the day it is set to expire. Today there are so many types of funding to choose from, beyond traditional banks, and so you need to ensure you have the right backing for that stage of the business, and for the visibility of the earnings you have to support it…Finally, know when you have taken the business as far as you can. There are many stages of a company’s life and entrepreneurs need to know when it is time to move on. The reason there are serial entrepreneurs is because the really successful ones create, innovate, launch and drive their concept to the stage where it is reaching a certain maturity and then hand it on to a professional management team, leaving them free to develop new ideas to start the cycle again.

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