Recently I read an article called “Why Entrepreneurs are So Last Year.” The title of it intrigued me — I didn’t realize that entrepreneurship was a fad. To me it has always been a way to break free from the limitations of being an employee. As I read the article though, I found a few points I agreed with.
Entrepreneurship Has Been Romanticized
One point Oliver Williams mentions, is that people have romanticized entrepreneurship too much. I’ll agree with that. There are many people out there that still tout entrepreneurship as a way to get rich quick. I won’t deny that certain industries have the potential to make a lot more money. Technology is changing almost daily, so anyone in the tech industry who has an idea for a business might be successful, if they’re willing to put in the work to get their idea off the ground.
Some People Have Soiled the Reputation of Entrepreneurship
Another thing he mentions is that some tech giants, like Mark Zuckerberg and Travis Kalanick, have soiled the reputation of entrepreneurship because of their actions. I’ll agree with that too. But there are still plenty of entrepreneurs who are ethical and moral people willing to work hard to make their vision a reality.
He also mentions that the entrepreneurs getting more respect these days are the ones that have bought (or started) and sold several businesses. I’ll definitely agree with that. Many people are motivated to try new things, so they’ll start one business, get it to a point where it’s successful, and then sell it or merge it with another business so they can pursue a different business idea. As Tasha Vashisht says in the article “Once you’ve been successful you continue to be an entrepreneur.” Does that mean you should give up being an entrepreneur if your first business fails? No, not necessarily. Look at what went wrong and figure out how you could do things differently.
He also mentions it’s easier than ever to be an entrepreneur because of all the different apps and websites that are available, and because of the fact that it’s easier than ever for people to create their own apps.
Another good point that he brings up, is that the reason a lot people don’t become entrepreneurs is because they’re afraid of failing. That’s definitely understandable, but it shouldn’t keep anyone who has an idea for a business or a product from going after it.
How do You Become Successful as an Entrepreneur?
So how do you achieve success as an entrepreneur? Here are a few tips:
- Have a solid business plan — Planning is important to the success of any business. When you make your business plan, you should define your skills and weaknesses, what you offer, how it’s unique and how you plan to grow your offerings. You also need to prepare yourself mentally for anything that could go wrong and know how you would deal with it. Some of the things include:
- What if you got injured?
- What if a client pays you a month late?
- What if a weather disaster affects your business?
- What if a supplier goes bankrupt?
2. Prepare for financial challenges — A lot of entrepreneurs say their biggest challenge is cash flow. You can deal with cash flow problems by saving up a month’s worth of expenses, or by finding ways to lower your overhead creatively. Some things you can do include giving clients a discount if they pay a deposit or the full amount upfront, or give them an incentive — for example they can pay 10% less if you deliver the product or service a week earlier. Whatever you decide to do, be careful that you don’t get into too much debt — this is one of the biggest killers of small business success.
3. Be frugal — Start-ups need to be frugal. Remember, you only have the cash in your wallet to finance your business, so don’t buy expensive equipment and fancy office furnishings right away. And find ways to be frugal with your marketing campaigns. If you’re selling a physical product, you might try selling it at a market or sharing space with other entrepreneurs.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a TON of resources available for entrepreneurs. Attend events, ask for help from people you do business with like your bank manager or other business owners. You can also find a lot of resources online.
5. Find a mentor. You might ask another successful business owner to be your mentor, or even the owner of a blog you read often. Mentors are valuable because they’ve been where you are, and they can provide good advice, or just be a sounding board for your ideas.
6. Market as cheaply as possible. There are lots of great ways to market your business cheaply — create a business page on Facebook, and post updates to it often. Submitting your website URL to search engines is also free. You can also join Facebook groups that allow you to advertise your business — some will require a small fee, others will be completely free.
7. Look after yourself. Starting a business is a 24/7 job — you’re no longer limited to 9–5. If someone calls you or emails you outside those hours, you need to take care of their request ASAP. However, it is still important to make sure you take care of yourself. Make sure you exercise, eat healthfully and find time to relax; these are all important for productivity.
8. Build a team that shares your vision. As your business grows, you may need to hire people to take care of certain parts of your business. Make sure you hire people that support your vision. Interview them so you can get an idea if they share your culture and values. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to them — that’s what they’re there for.
9. Never stop learning. To stay competitive in your business, you need to keep learning. Take courses through websites like Udemy, HubSpot and Inc.edu.
10. Keep your venture safe. The best entrepreneurs make sure they mitigate risk. Small business insurance is one of the best ways to make sure you mitigate risk, and it’s very affordable.
So are entrepreneurs last year? No. Would-be entrepreneurs just need to get over their fear of failure and make sure they follow the previously mentioned tips for success. Will this ensure success? No, but it will reduce the risk of failure.
If you’ve been successful as an entrepreneur, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below.