So you’ve decided to make the leap and start your own business. You’re now an aspiring entrepreneur! You have an awesome idea that will solve a customer problem that is a very big deal for them. The potential market for your product has the potential to be very large and grow really fast.
What are the things you should think about before making the leap?
1. You Will Work Harder than Ever Before
If you want your venture to be successful, and not simply a lifestyle business, you are going to work long hours and make lots of sacrifices. Personal sacrifices. Family sacrifices. If you are not ready to do this, don’t waste your time starting a company. In addition to working hard, you need to be dedicated, devoted and committed to the success of your company. I am not a believer in a balanced lifestyle…at least for an entrepreneur, or for anyone that works for a startup. I think you can have it all, but just not all at the same time.
2. You Need to be Appropriately Patient and Persistent
I read a recent Forbes article, Tori Kelly May Be Music’s Brightest New Star, But She’s Far From An Overnight Success, that highlights what I’m talking about here. The article is from the world of entertainment, and it’s about 23 year-old Tori Kelly, who most assume is an “overnight success”. At 14, Tori started posting countless covers on YouTube, she began building a fan base and capturing the eyes of different executives. She had more than her share of rejection, setbacks, and sacrifice. However, she continued to persevere, and won the Grammy for Best New Artist this year. 10 years…not too bad.
As an entrepreneur, you need to continue to drive forward, and not get frustrated. I always like to think that when someone says no to me, then are really just saying “no, not right now.” If you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, then you will never be able to make it through this phase of getting a venture off the ground. You have to believe when no one else does.
3. Listen to Your Customers…But Not Too Closely
I had a mentor early in my career that said this to me. He was the CEO of a company where I was on the executive team. We were both young men at that time, but he had already started and ran a company for almost a decade. I asked him what he meant. He said that customers tell you what they want right now. You have to look downstream and see what they will need a year or two from now when your product is ready. One of the best ways I’ve learned to do this is talking with customers’ customers and looking at market trends. You must shoot in front of your target to get a hit.You must shoot in front of your target to get a hit.Click To Tweet
4. Don’t Do It Just for the Money
Unlike some, I don’t have a problem if people want to get rich. It is one of the greatest things about the United States. We don’t have a caste system, and anyone who works hard enough can dramatically improve his or her life and socio-economic status. But if you are starting a company just for the money, you will never be able to suffer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in your quest for success. You need to be passionate about what you are doing. You have to believe in something. You have to believe that what you are doing is important. It doesn’t mean that you have to be curing cancer. Phil Knight built an amazing company, Nike, that originally sold running shoes. He was very passionate and competitive about it! And now he is very rich. Good for Phil.
5. Make Decisions…Share Success…Fully Take Blame
If you get paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision, then you will not be a good entrepreneur. You must make decisions. People who make a lot of decisions make a lot of mistakes. However, good decision makers make fewer mistakes as a percentage, and they know how to course correct if they make a bad decision. The never blame others. They share the positive credit and take the blame. It does not mean you don’t hold people accountable. Making decisions about hiring and firing people will be a key part of leadership if you are growing your company, but you need to take ultimate responsibility. There is an old saying, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” However, if you’re the CEO of a company, failures are your kids. As Harry Truman said, “The Buck Stops Here”.
6. Aspiring Entrepreneurs Must Develop Mentors
One of the biggest mistakes that I see with entrepreneurs, especially young or inexperienced entrepreneurs, is that they do not develop and rely upon a network of mentors and advisors. There is no shame in learning something from someone that is more experienced than you. I don’t care how smart you are. There is value in learning from other smart people who are more experienced and have “been there and done that”. It doesn’t mean you have to take very piece of advice you get, but at least find some people that you can learn from and listen to them.
7. “To Thine Own Self Be True”
I guarantee you that you will face temptation to do “wrong” things. Unethical things. Things out of greed. Things that violate your principles. Be ready to deal with these “ethical dilemmas”, as they are so wrongly called. Never make it be a dilemma. Never compromise your personal integrity for any reason.
Every aspiring entrepreneur must go in knowing these 7 things. Did any of them surprise you? Sound off in the comments!