If you’ve been thinking about quitting your job and starting your own business, you’re not alone. Survey after survey reveals that anywhere from 50-75 percent of Americans dream of doing just that.
Entrepreneurship offers the flexibility to set your own hours, to quit by 3 p.m. to pick up your kids, to be in charge of your earning potential, to choose projects you love and want to work on, and to promote products and services you strongly believe in.
And many people do take that step forward. The Small Business Association estimates there are at least 20 million solo business ventures that generate annual receipts of $1 trillion. Two million people become self-employed each year – and many start their businesses with less than $5000 in start-up capital.
Yet being an entrepreneur isn’t all fun and games – and most people underestimate the amount of work involved in creating a successful business – so before you turn in your resignation, take a moment to read this guide. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. In fact, the majority of all businesses fail and of those that do endure, many become a lot like a glorified job where you must put in long hours to make sure everything gets done because if it doesn’t, there’s no one to blame but you.
Do You Have What It Takes To Start Your Own Business?
At its core, entrepreneurship isn’t about giving you the lifestyle you dream about, though that can be a side benefit. It’s about creating a unique and valuable entity that solves problems for a specific group of people. It is about creating a business that you raise and nurture (much like your children) so that one day, it can operate without you, if you choose.
Getting to that point takes persistence, hard work, and a strong leader who will guide the business toward its goals. In general, successful entrepreneurs are:
- Action Oriented – Once you start a business, you quickly realize you don’t know everything and there is quite a lot to learn. Instead of getting stuck in “information overload” or “paralysis by analysis,” successful entrepreneurs decrease their inputs and make sure to put whatever they learn into practice immediately. They are good at figuring out what, exactly, they need to learn to solve one problem at a time, solve it, and move on.
- Competent – Few things are more frustrating to employees and customers than incompetence. You must be good at what you do, be able to get things done, and do an exceptional job.
- Decisive – Every day you’ll be confronted with new problems and challenges that will require you to make quick decisions about what to do, which opportunities to pursue, how to manage your cash flow, whom to hire, and how to deal with specific problems. Often, you don’t have days to mull over a decision nor the luxury to second-guess yourself. You must make a decision and move forward.
- Financially Frugal – Successful entrepreneurs manage money well and keep their finances in check. They minimize expenses, knowing that every dollar they save becomes profit, and they monitor cash flow religiously.
- Perceptive – Successful entrepreneurs are willing to see things as they really are. They take off the rose-colored glasses and take responsibility for where their company is at. They don’t pretend if they ignore problems, those problems will magically disappear. While they are generally optimistic, they view things with a healthy dose of skepticism rather than “believing” things will work out.
- Problem Solvers – Entrepreneurs are able to put themselves in the minds of their prospects, customers, and employees to look at situations from others’ perspectives. They are great at asking questions to uncover where the pain lies, rather than dealing with symptoms, and look for ways to test ideas to see which has the best chance of success.
- Resilient – Setbacks and failures are a daily part of entrepreneurial life. You will make mistakes. Successful entrepreneurs don’t drown themselves in self guilt but bounce back quickly. They look for ways they can turn loss into opportunity and what they can learn so they can prevent it from happening again.
- Self-Disciplined – The downside to being your own boss means that you must hold yourself accountable and have the discipline to do what needs to be done. No one will tell you what to do, yet you’ll quickly find that the less you do, the less income you make. You must find the time to prioritize the most important work, get it done, and hold yourself accountable for your success.
- Strong Managers – Once your business starts to grow, you’ll realize you can’t do everything yourself and will need to hire employees, outsource projects, or work closely with vendors to help you. At this point, you do less of the day-to-day activities and spend more of your time managing others or looking for talent to hire.
- Strong Leaders – It’s up to you to make your employees believe in your vision and be willing to make tough choices, even if they go against popular opinion.
- Trustworthy – Getting others to trust you is key to your success. Your vendors, partners and employees must trust you to keep your promises and to give others credit when credit is due.
When you’re just starting out, you may not be good at all of those traits, but successful entrepreneurs are able to cultivate those skills as they need them.