Friday, March 21, 2008

What does it take to Make it as an Entrepreneur?

Included here is the topic I spoke about to Club Entrepreneur on Thursday March 19th, 2008.

You might say it’s always been my dream to have my own business. And I’ve had several. My dad put me to work in his business on the island of Maui when I was 17 years old. By age 21 I was the General Manager of his business. At age 24 I started my own business on the island of Oahu selling fine jewelry to departments stores. At age 29 I started a retail business in Arizona.

I’ve found that many of us dream of owning our own business. In fact, according to a recent nationwide survey, 53 percent of respondents said they would like to own their own small business despite knowing that small businesses have a high rate of failure and bankruptcy.
I am often asked for Tips on how to "Make it" as an entrepreneur.
So, what does it take to be successful in your own business?

As a business coach I like to teach people to think for themselves. So I’ve listed some TRUE or FALSE statements about being an entrepreneur.

You’ll get rich overnight with your own business. FALSE.
You should be willing to work long hours for little profit for the first two to three years. I’m sorry to burst your bubble if you think you can hit the ground running with a six figure income the first year. The truth is unless you’re plugged into a referral engine right off the bat, you will have to build your business through hard work.

You can Bootstrap Your Way through slow cash flow. FALSE.
One of the main causes of business failure is underfunding. This is a no-brainer. You will need a cash reserve to see you through the tough times. You’ll need savings or a part time job to make ends meet for at least the first year.

You’ll have freedom when you have your own business. TRUE.
My father taught me that there is nothing better in life than having your own business. I learned that one of the great benefits of self employment is freedom. The freedom to set your own rules, control your own future, and decide what it is you want to create in your life. Ironically, you have the freedom to be successful and the freedom to mess it all up.

Freedom is a double-edged sword

You need to learn new skills to grow your business. TRUE.
Commit to lifelong learning. You will be much more likely to succeed if you are continually improving yourself. I like to say that “Readers are Leaders”. What do you need to learn to succeed? What books and magazines do you need to read? What conferences do you need to attend?

You can work 7 days a week to make the business profitable sooner. FALSE.
I have seen many clients burnout from overwork. Avoid burn out by taking at least one full day off per week. My husband and I call Sunday, Funday. If we’re not doing something fun on Funday, then what’s the point of having your own business?

You don’t need a business plan. FALSE.
A business plan gives the business owner direction and more importantly, MOTIVATION. If you’ve worked on a grand VISION of where you want your business to be in five to ten years and you base your business plan on achieving that vision, you are much more likely to succeed. It’s the business owner who has no vision that wanders aimlessly. For a great business plan template see my Entrepreneur’s Shop for the Two Page Mini Business Plan. It’s a great SYSTEM to keep you organized and on track.

You don’t need to do research to support your business idea. FALSE.
You need to ensure that the free market can support your idea. My clients are all over the united states. Recently I got a call from a woman in New Jersey. She wants to start a line of organic fragrances. When I asked her if she had done research to see if there was a market for her product she said she hadn’t thought to do that. You should be willing to create a focus group and test your idea before investing and taking it to market.

You can do this on your own without the support of friends and family. FALSE.
Surround yourself with supportive, successful people who care about your journey to entrepreneurship. If there’s someone who is not supportive, you may need to avoid them. You need a positive attitude to make this work. Get yourself a mentor or a coach who can help you stay on track.

You need to be accountable to someone in order to make it. TRUE.
Get yourself an accountability partner. You won’t do what you need to do unless someone is holding you accountable. Have weekly meetings with your partner to stay on track.

You can’t run your business without taking risks. TRUE.
Be willing to take risks. This is the most important characteristic necessary for success. If you stay safe inside your comfort zone you won’t realize near the success that‘s possible.
Back in 1990 when I moved to AZ I invested my life’s savings in a start up retail store. I got on a plane and flew halfway around the world to Asia and bought a container load of merchandise to start my retail business. Was this risky? You bet. It was terrifying. I had to meet with architects to plan my store layout. I had to sign lease agreements for 3-5 years out. I had to sign a personal guarantee that I would pay if the business failed. It was a hell of a risk. But I made it work. Does that mean I’m not afraid of risk? No. But like they say “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

So the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way” is certainly true when it comes to making it as an entrepreneur. If you’re determined to make your business work, and you make it your quest in life to succeed, you can learn to become an entrepreneur.

Thomas Edison said: “The successful person makes a habit of doing what the failing person doesn't like to do.”

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

No comments: