I used to think that entrepreneurship was only about creating unique and groundbreaking technologies and coming up with new and innovative products. Having studied entrepreneurship in graduate school, I was always surrounded by gung-ho entrepreneurs.
Some of my peers went on to start web technology companies whereas others created startup companies in biotechnology. Almost every one of them had some unique idea or take on a particular technology and ran with it. Having studied entrepreneurship in this environment was quite intimidating.
Looking back, the main mental barrier I had to starting my own business was that I didn’t feel like I could come up with a sexy enough idea to pursue. In addition, I wasn’t the type of person that wanted to devote 100 hours a week to running a startup company either.
Guess what? You don’t need a brilliant or groundbreaking idea to start your own business. When I started my online store, I was almost ashamed of telling my peers about it. There’s nothing sexy about selling linens online, absolutely nothing.
But you know what? This little online business has probably generated more profit in its 2 years of existence than some of the startup companies that my peers have started (especially the ones that went under).
It all comes down to what your end objective is. My entrepreneurial goal has always been to generate enough profit so that my wife could stay at home with the kids and not have to work. My goal in life was never to start a company so that I could work my butt off. To be honest, I’m just a dad who wants to spend time with the family and bring up my kids the best that I can.
So what does this mean? It means that you shouldn’t be intimidated or pressured into coming up with the next big thing before you start your own business. What you do need however is a clear vision or objective and some of the following character traits which I’ll outline below.
In the course of starting and running your business, you will be beset by many temptations. Some days you’ll feel tired and lazy and your bed will call to you under the guise of feathered bliss. Sometimes your favorite show will be on television or there’ll be a killer sale at Fry’s on the day you’ve dedicated to work on your business.
I can not stress how important it is to stay on schedule and not to break your entrepreneurial rhythm. You’d be surprised what effect even a little tiny slip up can have on your overall psyche. You miss just one day and pretty soon you’ll be rationalizing and making excuses every time you need to concentrate.
You need to possess the drive to motivate yourself to work on your business often and always. When you are on your own, there’s no boss to push you. You have to push yourself. Stop making excuses, stop rationalizing and start working.
Concentrate all of your efforts on a single idea and bring it to fruition. Don’t spread out your time on a bunch of ideas, otherwise all of them will fail.
Unfortunately, this is one quality that I don’t have but I’ve gotten much better about it over time. Businesses take time to grow and some things just can never be accelerated no matter how much effort you put in.
You need to realize that entrepreneurship is not about instant gratification or instant wealth. Think of it as a journey that you need to mentally prepare yourself for the long haul. Many people start out strong but then fizzle out because they don’t see immediate results.
Have faith, build it and the customers will come. We didn’t earn any meaningful money until 4 months had elapsed.
Even though you might have absolutely no clue what you are doing, you need to remain strong and lead the troops. Many times, you will be going through uncharted waters and just need to rely on your instincts alone.
When we were first creating our online store, we honestly had absolutely no idea what to do during the first month. We didn’t know the first thing about getting a DBA or getting a business license.
Personally, I also knew absolutely nothing about wedding linens or weddings at all for that matter. I kind of just woke up and showed up for mine (my wife did most of the wedding planning).
But despite all of this, we managed to feel our way through it in the end. It probably would have helped a great deal had tutorials been available on how to open an online business back then.
Willing to Ask For Help
Personally, I hate asking for assistance. But if you don’t get any help at all, you’ll end up burning yourself out in just a short period of time.
In our experience, it’s best to ask for help often and early. If you can’t afford professional help in the early going, hire some high school kids to help out for minimum wage. The key is to free up time for you to expand your business without having to worry about everyday mundane chores.
Another way to do this is by working with a business partner. Starting a business on your own can be a difficult undertaking and a complementary business partner can cut your burdens in half. They key is finding a suitable partner.
All entrepreneurs need to be problem solvers. The most successful entrepreneurs always manage to come up with creative ideas with which to achieve their objectives. Whenever I think of ingenuity, I always think of this one application that Google created to categorize their images.
It is inherently difficult to categorize photos because machines can not read in an image and detect exactly what the image is displaying. Instead of hiring people to categorize the images by hand, Google instead created an online game where two people tried to guess what words each other used to describe the same photo.
For every description that matched, they earned a point. After each session, the highest scores would be displayed on the screen. This photo categorizing application was so viral and addictive that I once played it for 2 hours straight.
I used to think that the key to being a successful entrepreneur was the ability to come up with great business ideas. But what I discovered in practice was that ideas are completely worthless unless they are implemented properly.
Probably the most important quality of an entrepreneur is the ability to follow through with their plans. Many entrepreneurs start up and out of the gates with unbridled energy but then fizzle out quickly after just a couple of months. It’s important to set a pace for yourself that you can maintain for years, not months.
Do you fit all of the above qualities? If not, it doesn’t really matter. What skills and qualities you lack can be complemented by a good partner. Truth be told, everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. You just need to find the right team.
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