Entrepreneurship is synonymous with ambition - it’s something you’re born with and it’s a lifestyle. The common phrase “you never know until you try” is the motto to build your business around. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or ready to leave your job behind to become your own boss, follow the tips I’ve provided below to help you along your way of successfully building your new business.
Don’t enter a business or a venture that you know nothing about.
Don't start a business just because you see other businesses making “boat-loads” of money – the reality is if you don’t know anything about the industry you’re chances of failure outweigh your chances of success. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It's not only important to create a profitable business, it's also important that you're happy managing and growing it day in and day out. If your heart isn't in it, you will not be successful.
Understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses.
Believe it or not, you don’t know everything; and if you think you do you better realize you don’t. Surround yourself with successful business professionals you know personally or through acquaintances with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals. They should see the value in working with you for the long-term. Use these professionals as advisors and mentors and develop your own network of entrepreneurs that you see regularly and bounce ideas off.
Focus on a specific idea and work at it until it’s achieved. Avoid getting side-tracked. Make quality in every aspect of your business your primary focus. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly, not 10 things poorly. You need to be results oriented and process focused because the only way to get good results is to improve the process - the results are the outcome. Make sure to never lose sight of the big picture!
Be flexible in your thinking.
There is no such thing as a perfect plan. If you’re doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, you need to change. Trend analysis and proper forecasting will help, but you can’t predict the future and a plan cannot prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. Never get into a new business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months waiting to execute. You need to be prepared to change the way you work, the products you use and the services you offer, in order to meet the demands of your customers.
30 second elevator pitch.
If you can’t explain your business in 30 seconds or less, don’t even bother saying it. You never know when you might encounter a potential investor or a curious customer so you should always be ready to pitch your business. Be clear and concise. Less is always more.
Don’t think you’re going to get funded.
Don’t go into a business thinking some venture capitalist is just going to open up their wallet and invest in your company or idea. Find a starting point instead of an end point. Simplify the idea so that is manageable in the beginning stages and scale accordingly. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively. “Bootstrap” your business model until you see growth and success in your company, your chances of raising capital from investors increases dramatically. Keep your finances in-check and don’t spend like a big shot, act like a startup.
People are more productive when they take better care of themselves. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession. Working to the point of exhaustion will burn you out and make you less productive. Don't make excuses. Eat right, exercise and find time for yourself. Plan to do something you enjoy a few times a week and recharge your batteries.
Know when enough is enough.
Check your ego at the door. Not all businesses work out and sometimes it’s better to say enough is enough before you put yourself into a serious financial hole. Know when it's time to walk away. If your idea doesn't pan out, learn from the mistakes that were made and assess what you would have done differently. Use these hard-learned lessons for future ventures. Remember, the only failures we have are the mistakes from which we do not learn. Failure is inevitable, but a true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity.
Michael Jakovcic is a serial entrepreneur and Senior Vice President of Fusion Consulting (www.fusionmgt.com), one of New Jersey’s fastest growing management consulting firms. He is a Six Sigma and LEAN Sensei graduate from Villanova University. His industry expertise expands to business development and strategy of start-up and emerging companies, government, healthcare, technology and manufacturing. You can reach Michael at 732.218.5705 or via email at Michael.Jakovcic@FusionMgt.com.