Most people have entertained thoughts of starting a business. They see successful entrepreneurs living the good life and wonder, “Why can’t that be me?” What they may not realize is that the potential rewards of business ownership are many, but so are the challenges.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And it is definitely not for the faint of heart.
An intense desire to succeed is not enough to ensure success. There is no such thing as a fail-safe business concept. Even so, aspiring entrepreneurs who possess these five characteristics increase their chances of winning at life and business.
Living the good life is not all about parties, brushing shoulders with industry leaders, and attending more conferences than you can count — at least not at first. Starting a new business requires a significant time commitment that goes way beyond the comprehension of those who have never tried to launch one. A new business owner must be all in and willing to devote more than the typical 40 hour work week if they hope to succeed. Those unprepared or unwilling to commit their time are usually better off holding onto a 9-to-5 job.
Stress and uncertainty are bedfellows of a new business owner. If you need the stability and comfort of a guaranteed weekly income do not apply to become an entrepreneur. When you start a business it is not uncommon to endure months of sporadic income. Then the potential for failure creates tremendous psychological pressure. Stress associated with financial uncertainty can be extreme, and negatively impact relationships with family and friends. Choosing to be an entrepreneur is choosing to dwell in uncertainty. You will not have defined hours or income, at first, and responsibilities will include anything and everything that needs to get done.
Sales and Marketing Skills
Building a better mousetrap is no longer enough to make the world beat a path to your door. Regardless of your industry you are in the business of sales. Whether you’re a computer technician, freelance writer, designer, carpenter, or meatball-sandwich maker, you cannot simply hang out your shingle and wait for customers to show up. If you lack the ability to effectively get your message out to potential customers you are doomed to failure. Successful entrepreneurs are experts at communicating who they are, what they do, and how their product or service will make potential customers’ lives better. If sales and marketing are not your strong suit, hire someone to do it for you.
A mistake that often proves fatal to startups is a lack of sufficient operating capital. Many entrepreneurs underestimate how much money they will need to run their business. They often underestimate costs and overestimate early sales, leaving a lack of adequate funding to force them out of business before they have time to succeed. It is critical to accurately determine the amount of money your new business will require over an extended period of time (i.e., a startup budget and operating budget). This includes both the costs of starting and the costs of staying in business. Many startups take a year or two before becoming profitable. You will need sufficient operating capital to cover all personal expenses and business costs until revenues can catch up.
Faith in Eventual Success
Starting a new business is a daunting proposition under the best of circumstances. There are roadblocks and obstacles at every turn. Also there will be days (or weeks) when you will wonder what you got yourself into. There is only one thing that will keep you going during difficult times: Absolute faith and belief that you will make it. Sometimes this belief will seem irrational in the face of a mountain of problems. But the entrepreneur who lacks confidence in his success will be looking for the exit door long before success comes knocking.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Robert Sofia is a best-selling author, award winning public speaker, and financial industry thought leader. He is the co-founder and C.O.O of Platinum Advisor Strategies – ranked #362 on the INC 5,000 list of America’s fastest growing privately owned companies, and #10 on the Agency 100 list of the nation’s fastest growing agencies. Connect wtih @robertsofia on Twitter.
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