I have been an entrepreneur for over 20 years now. I started my business in 1995 with a $3,000 tax refund check and the self belief I could do something better than anyone else, even if I didn’t know what that “something” was. That is the true spirit of being an entrepreneur. You see an opportunity, seize it, make it your own and run with it. But increasingly, that is not enough. The following are my 5 Fundamentals that most entrepreneurs lack:
1. Long Term Belief: Entrepreneurs are very emotional about their idea, company and opportunity. That emotion usually has peaks and valleys. It is easy to get excited about anything new and it’s initial arc. But to be successful, you need to have a long term belief in what you are doing. Obstacles and setbacks are just part of what is ingrained in the soul of most entrepreneurs. Its when you look into the mirror and ask yourself “am I cut out for this” or “can I really make this work”, when you realize you either have what it takes or you go back to working for someone else.
* Suggestion: Establish a group of really positive, respected believers in you and your idea. Have regular meetings, whether they are formal or informal doesn’t matter. Even entrepreneurs need to re-charge their batteries. Have those believers give you insight into how to overcome your challenges and obstacles.
2. Funding: Without question this is one of the most complex issues any entrepreneur will deal with on so many levels. Do you self-fund? Generate your start-up capital from F&F (family and friends)? Do you find a partner? An Investor? How about Crowdfunding? Will your bank give you a loan? Do you qualify for an SBA loan?
*Suggestion: The following article in BusinessNewsDaily is an incredible list of 14 options that will help almost any entrepreneur. Really know your limitations, needs and level of risk you are willing to assume!
3. Patience: This is sort of an oxymoron for entrepreneurs I know. I have really never been patient a day in my life. Yet, at times I needed to be because not every action and re-action can be judged with in that nanosecond you have allotted to make a major decision. Patience is a virtue, so why not take that extra moment as they say and think before you speak? As entrepreneurs we get so wrapped up in the immediacy of getting the maximum amount of stuff done in a day. Well I have news for you, after 20 years in business, I think it is now more important to strive for quality vs. quantity.
*Suggestion: Big decisions need to be slept on. I suggest also buying a note pad, tablet or some other instrument you can take notes on in order to write quick thoughts before you lose them. To jot down your insights and thoughts and reflect on them at a later date is a great way to harness your inner time clock from striking 12 before you have fully evaluated the pros and cons.
4. Hire the Right People: I have been habitual at early stages of my various companies development of hiring advocates not zealots. Finding the right people who have the right mind and skill set to accomplish what you need done is critical.
*Suggestions: Hire zealots! Here is why:
Advocate: Someone who cheers your passion and idea on. They think you are incredible and always wanted to be part of an entrepreneurial endeavor. These people are well meaning do gooders who are happy to be part of the team. Good people. Classic YES people.
Zealot: A person who is agnostic to the specifics, but is all in when it comes to getting things done fast, effectively and with an eye on what the company needs and how it impacts the company’s greater goals! The zealot always has their eye on the ball. Adjudication isn’t why they go to work. Getting the job done at the highest level and being a part of the fabric of the company does. You can’t get enough of these type of people!
5. Information: What blows my mind is how much more information I consume today at 50, then I ever did at any point in my life! The depth on knowledge an entrepreneur has at their fingertips today is insane. When my parents started their trade show company in the mid-70s, they had nothing but an impulse and the willingness to work hard to accomplish their goals in life. Today, you can chose an industry, you can educate yourself on competitors, distribution channels, manufacturing, cost of goods, on and on and on. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, as there is now. I speak to hundreds of business people every month who whisper to me about their dreams of someday being an entrepreneur. Guess what? To coin a phrase, Just do it! The work-force is better educated. The means of global sales and distribution are more widely available than ever before. Social media and PR make even the smallest businesses viable because you can now reach a customer in any place that has wi-fi! Lastly, you can gain information and advice from great platforms such as #LinkedIn. Type in a category or company into your search box and LinkedIn will take you on a journey that can only assist you through direct contacts to industry leaders, access to articles and insights by thought leaders such as Sir Richard Branson and/or start or join a group with thousands of experts in any field. If you have that burning desire to be your own boss, well today is your day.
Follow my road map and give yourself the change of a lifetime! Good luck newby! We are all here to help!