It has become glaringly obvious that the world of work, over the last year alone, is drastically changing. The pandemic, in 2020, created an increase in job unemployment and uncertainty when it came to the success of businesses. Although this spike in unemployment is a disheartening feat, many people have found creative ways to use their resources and time away from the office to create side hustles and businesses as a way to create multiple streams of income for themselves and some have even successfully made this their full-time job. For some, the pandemic had inadvertently become a breeding ground for entrepreneurs and unlocked creative showmanship.
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What is an entrepreneur?
When speaking about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship, it can become pressingly tempting to lace the term with all sorts of frivolity, but it is taking it back to basics that make the concept of being an entrepreneur more accessible to the masses. An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business and taking on the financial risks associated with it, as a way to make a profit.
There are many different types of entrepreneurs that showcase the scope of what entrepreneurship can mean. From large businesses to family entrepreneurship to technical entrepreneurs, the possibilities of making a profit from your niche or skill set are endless. With over 500 million entrepreneurs in the world, the chances to learn from what others have done before you can be utilised as a tool and resource to set an entrepreneur up for success.
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Although the life of an entrepreneur can sometimes be glamorised, many businesses and entrepreneurs can often fail because the basics of entrepreneurship are not covered and the possibility of failure can soon become an inevitability if you are not setting the best foundations for yourself.
The World of Work
One of the key fundamentals of entrepreneurship is knowing your business etiquette before setting up a company. The best way to do this is to gain experience by working for someone else first. Put in the time and effort to understand how a good business operated and communicates with its staff. The basics of hiring and firing someone, knowing how to conduct teams strategy, and even knowing the use of certain systems and software, are all key skills and prerequisites that can make and shape you into a good entrepreneur.
By watching how other business owners and managers conduct their affairs and being part of the process, is one of the best ways to get hands-on industry experience as well as gauge what type of business owner and entrepreneur you want to be. By understanding what it is to be an employee will also give you the knowledge of what it takes to be a good employer. Working for someone else, particularly in your desired industry will only build on what you know and give you a good breadth of knowledge as well as being in direct contact with people who have been in the industry for years. Being open to learning and putting the time in at the beginning will save you from making lousy mistakes in the future of your business.
When entering the world of work with the intention of becoming an entrepreneur, you need to make the most of your experiences in the company. Make note of the good habits of your boss and the ways in which you like the team set up. Working towards promotion is a great way to gain insight into the hierarchy of responsibility and may even be the reason you decide not to pursue a business. To run a business you need to have ideally worked in a business.
Knowledge is Power
A desirable characteristic of an entrepreneur is having self-motivation and passion for what you do and what better way to do that, than delving into books about business. Reading about other entrepreneurs and business practices is an excellent way to expand your knowledge and learn from people who are where you want to be. The access to information and the book market isn’t showing signs of slowing down. People want to learn, people want to know things, so as a future entrepreneur, you need to be on that bandwagon.
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When deciding that you want to go out on your own and build a business, you can read into the mistakes that past entrepreneurs have made and avoid making these yourself. Making mistakes is all part of the process, but if you have information at your fingertips from people who have already learnt some lessons the hard way, you are saving your future self a lot of work. This is key before you decide to start and set up a business. Education is a must and having the discipline and will to do so will ensure your foundation for success is strong.
Some books that are a great place to get started outline the fundamental habits and formulas to ensuring your business is successful. Of course, you have your own creative flair and ideas, but what use is this if your basics are not in place. A great first read and often in an entrepreneur’s book repertoire is Rich Dad Poor Dad which outlines the fundamental lessons about money and money investing and more importantly how to invest your time to ensure you are making a profit in your business. This classic book is a great way to gain insight into the fundamentals of money, and you can build your financial and entrepreneurial knowledge from there.
When you decide to pursue a business idea and become an entrepreneur, at the beginning you must expect to be a little bit strapped for cash. You might not be profitable straight away so learning how to save a budget is vital in the long run when on the journey to entrepreneurship. The earlier you establish your budgeting basics, the more likely you will carry this with you into your business and keep track of your cash and money flow.
Apps like Mint can ensure that you keep track of your incoming and outgoing business expenditures and keep track of what is going on in your business. This is a core skill to master and implement if you want to become a successful entrepreneur. To ensure that your business is profitable and you are paying yourself a wage as well as your employees, budgeting and finance tracking is essential.
Be the Solution
In the corporate world and the general world of work, there will always be problems that need solutions. Being a problem solver is important when entering the realm of entrepreneurship and you have to put not only your money but your ability to the test. When starting a business, you won’t necessarily have the resources and big budgets or team of experts that you would when being employed by a company, so you have to ensure that you are resourceful and good at problem-solving.
You can begin doing this whilst still in employment for somebody else and become a critical thinker and problem solver. The more practice you get in problem-solving and ensuring that you are doing the research around a certain issue, will only set you up to be in a better position when working with limited resources and in a different environment.
You can implement problem-solving in a really simple and easy way but first outline all the sections of your business and then break up each section into possible problems you may run into. This could be a large expense on a vital piece of equipment you know you will need, or any contingencies you may have to put in place if an element of your business does not work out. This is not to say you will no face any unplanned problems, but this will give you the chance to prematurely problem-solve for certain eventualities.
The pandemic has been an opportunity for so many businesses and workforces to adapt to the change in the current climate. Navigating the unexpected when it comes to entrepreneurship is a must and your problem-solving ability will most certainly be put to the test.
Love What You Do
When taking the step to set up your own business and become an entrepreneur, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. Whether it be the passion for your business idea, or passionate about wanting to turn a profit or wanting to give back to your community, you have to have a driving force that will motivate you enough to want to put the work that is necessary init your business idea. This is a necessity and can often be a reason why many entrepreneurs fail because they lose the desire to do what they need to do for their business.
A way to get an insight into the taste of the entrepreneur life is by starting it as a side hustle to a primary role you may already have. This will be able to highlight to you how much time you are willing to invest and dedicate as an entrepreneur. You may decide you want to keep your idea as a supplementary form of income rather than dedicate yourself to it as a full business and that is a great revelation to have if you have the luxury to do so.
Time is Money
In the world of self-employment and entrepreneurship, time most certainly equates to money. When setting up a business you will have to dedicate your time wisely and in a productive way. With working from home practises thriving, this new way of working is something you have to consider when setting up your business. Being productive when working from home is fundamental to ensuring you are using your time wisely and in turn learning what you expect for your future potential employees if this is the way you would like your business to work.
In order to make your time work for you, what can you outsource to free up the time for you to do what you love about your business? How can you use your time to upskill and better your business without getting too lost in the administrative side of the business? These are questions you should be asking yourself as a way to streamline your business and make your time work for you. When you invest back into your business and free up time for yourself, you will create the hours in your day to enjoy the freedoms that come with entrepreneurship. You can create a schedule for yourself, knowing that you outsourced a reliable team and have streamlined your working process.
Consistency is Key
A common misconception that entrepreneurs often have, is that if they are not making a profit straight away that their business is not profitable, but when it comes to the time and money you put into something, being consistent is key.
The compound effect is a method of working that is centred around the consistent time you put into something to see a noticeable change in the long run and you as an entrepreneur have to be ready to play the long game. For example, if you put in 10 minutes a day of learning how to speak another language, with consistency you will be able to a noticeable difference over say a year. But you can’t give up, and it might be tempting to do this because, at the beginning of starting something, with the compound effect, you won’t see results straight away. And this will be the same with your profit, you will soon be in a position where you are earning interest on your interest, which most definitely makes your time valuable.
By being consistent, you are not only creating good disciplinary habits but contributing in the long run to your skillset.
Why should people invest in you?
You’re a consistent, dedicated and driven person, you’re ready to start your own business, but have you been meticulous about what you are offering? Why should people invest in you or buy your product or service? Ensuring that you are adding value to the industry you want to be in is key. Can you offer something that is more efficient, cheaper or even a more premium product than what is already out there? You need to be very honest with yourself and get the opinion of your target market focus groups and make sure you research, research, research. If you are offering something new, what gap have you identified that you believe needs your service or product? Showing yourself some tough love and being self-aware, will set you up for the questions that potential investors and your target market will be asking of you.
Unless you have already secured funds for ideas, at some point in your entrepreneurship you will have to secure investment for your business. Whether that be in the form of start-up costs or upscaling your business to become more global, you will be putting your charisma and communication to the test to secure finance for yourself. There are many options for you so you will not be short of investment opportunities for your business, but you need to make sure you know your business model inside out so you don’t get caught out later down the line.
Network is King
Communication is something that cannot be avoided in the business world and if you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to have the answers at hand and ready to go. Building a network is important for you to get the support and knowledge that you will need to potentially start or grow your business.
Having a professional network and establishing professional relationships is important for you to grow as an entrepreneur. It will allow you to see what an industry standard is and become acquainted with the terminology of your desired sector. Alongside gaining expert insight into your business and what it means to be an entrepreneur, you could gain a mentor out of reaching out to other entrepreneurs and learn and expand yourself.
Taking interest in the types of people you admire is a great stepping stone to making yourself successful as they have been through the process and have established themselves as entrepreneurs. LinkedIn is an excellent tool, to start building your network without even leaving your home. By using the tools available to you on the site, you can make your online presence known amongst the right people. By connecting with other entrepreneurs, or people who have acquired experience in your sector, you can create a good rapport and establish a conversation with someone. Using the messaging function, you will be able to reach out to your network who may not even be in the same country as you, you could make yourself globally know and understand the business cultures of other countries and communities. Utilising your network can only be a good thing, you may even be setting up the foundation for potential investments for your future business.
By using online and digital tools to establish a network you can also use these platforms to set up real-life meetings and perhaps even establish a strong enough professional relationship to invite certain entrepreneurs to attend business events and conferences with you. A professional setting will not only highlight your alignment with someone but can also give you a space to speak to each other about entrepreneurship. In the infancy of your business journey, the key is to listen to your network and learn from them. If someone is giving you their time, you should consider that as valuable and utilise it wisely. Go into a meeting or reach out message prepared. What do you want to gain from the person you are reaching out to? How can you make the time they are setting aside for you useful and productive? Be clear and concise in your interactions, as an entrepreneur you have to be able to communicate your message in a way that makes you be taken seriously. Keep your manner professional and your intentions transparent, and the receiving person will be grateful and be able to discuss what they can do for you.
Be Loud and Proud
Being an entrepreneur isn’t always about being low key, being loud and proud about your business is what is going to get you noticed and get potential customers. The digital world has made it more accessible than ever before to market a product or service and can even be done from the comfort of your own home or working space. During the pandemic alone, the use of TikTok has become one of the most popular ways that small businesses are able to connect with their audience and generate sales because of it. People are invested in people, so being honest with your journey and sharing elements of your business can be a great way to give insight into what you have to offer and even gain some customers from doing so.
Believing in what you have to offer will be clear to the people who interact with you and your content. If you’re not really a performative kind of person, can you create graphics that can communicate your idea and product online? What platforms do you think will work for your business? Don’t be afraid of trying new strategies, entrepreneurship is all about embracing new ideas and utilising the tools that are available to you. Using social media and incorporating it, into your business plan can be the difference between you falling and being successful so it’s definitely worth putting some thought and effort into.
There are an array of entrepreneurs out there and there is no reason to think that you can’t be successful in being one too. You just have to ensure that your foundations are sound and that your basics are secure. Being clear and confident in your business goals and how you want to conduct yourself is key to success and don’t be afraid to try something new, some risks really can be worth it for your business.