Advice for startups to established entrepreneurs
Becoming an entrepreneur has got to be one of the craziest things anyone can ever do. Crazy isn’t a bad thing. You’d have to be a little crazy to give up the creature comforts of corporate life: the 9-5, the infrastructure, having a place to go every day, and most importantly the expectation of a paycheck.
I’ve been an entrepreneur most of my adult life, and it’s easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. I can’t sit at a desk all day, and I know many of you are the same way. We like having the creative control and the nimbleness to make big things happen quickly.
I am very fortunate to be able to speak to entrepreneurs in different parts of their business development. As a business development consultant, I routinely talk to young startups looking to set the world ablaze with their new app, idea or online solution. And, of course, there are still the mom and pops challenging the current business paradigm.
All are equal and valid in the entrepreneurial race. And while the enterprise and focus might be different for each, there are obvious similarities and certain basic principles that make entrepreneurs a special class of business professional.
Here are five truths I think are invaluable to entrepreneurs or those thinking about taking the leap:
Five Truths for Entrepreneurs
1. You must be courageous.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it really needs to be said. Leaving the consistency of a normal job takes a great deal of courage. It’s also deliberately first. This trait is necessary during every facet of your entrepreneurial journey, especially the beginning.
The reality is that you don’t know what’s coming next: how you’re going to pay your bills; who your first client will be. There are most definitely more questions than there are answers. Let me remind you that this is normal, and it’s the first step to becoming an entrepreneur.
2. Risk is part of the gig.
This one should be underlined a few times. I’ve seen a lot of people successfully complete No. 1. They leave their dead-end job to forge their own path, and then they don’t move forward because they forget the role of risk in their decision.
There is a risk in starting your own business. I think going in and thinking anything else would be naïve. Go in with your eyes wide open.
There is a tremendous upside to owning your own business, but it comes out of successfully managing and navigating risk. You must be willing to put yourself out there.
Read the success stories of some of this country’s most successful entrepreneurs. I guarantee risk is part of their formula. Risk doesn’t disappear with time. Growth requires making bold decisions. Embrace risk early and learn from those initial decisions. Learn from your inevitable mistakes. These lessons will pay off later when more is on the line. You’ll have a honed sense of self-trust.
3. Delayed gratification
Here’s another reality check. You are now the boss. You are probably the only employee. You are the CEO, the CFO, the sales director, and you are the support staff. This will most likely mean that your customary 2-week vacation might have to wait until next year. Maybe.
But remind yourself why you became an entrepreneur. You wanted to do things your way. You wanted to have the chance to define your own terms. Set your own corporate culture and put your stamp on your legacy. That’s worth working and waiting for.
You must first create structure for yourself and develop a rhythm. This takes time. How much time varies from person-to-person, but chances are that you won’t get a paycheck Month 1 or Month 2. That is a scary concept but rely on that inner strength and courage that brought you to this point and forge forward believing in your vision, mission and objective.
4. Practice the two P’s: Patience and Perseverance.
You can excel at the practices above, but without the virtues of patience and perseverance, frankly, it won’t matter much.
Patience and perseverance are purposefully linked. Your first sale might take a few days, weeks or even months. You must give your young company a chance to swim. How many young, promising companies pulled the plug after their first rejection?
You’re going to have hurdles and obstacles, an entrepreneur must be ready to go over those, around those and knock them down.
5. Believe in Yourself and Your Project and Be Gracious
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. You must believe in who you are, and why you are pursuing this dream. It is the foundation upon which to build your business. Customers and clients are attracted to confidence, positive energy and success, and always remember that they are much more apt to do business or buy products or services from someone they LIKE. Confidence coupled with humility will take you a long way.
Living out your entrepreneurial dream can and should be an exciting, exhilarating and wonderful experience. It will not be without challenges and mistakes, but with the right attitude and fortitude, courage, patience, perseverance, grace, confidence, can-do spirit and risk-taking attitude, entrepreneurial success will be yours.
Success as an entrepreneur cannot be measured in dollars, ROI and number of employees or offices alone. You are successful as an entrepreneur by having taken the risk, possessed the courage, believed enough and persevered.
The highs of running your own business and controlling your fate are indescribable. Even more importantly, getting to celebrate your success — success that came from your ideas and your work — is incomparable to anything I’ve experienced. I am so grateful that I took the leap.