These days, it seems like everyone is hoping to become an entrepreneur and come up with “the next big thing”. Who can blame them? When successful, the benefits to owning a startup are obvious: being your own boss, creating something from scratch, bringing value to the people around you and, of course, making a bit of coin along the way. But the key phrase in that equation is, “when successful.” Too often, startups fail – 75 percent of them, to be exact, says The Harvard Business Review. So what goes wrong?
Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Or at least, not by nature. To run a good business you have to be able to assume the proper role. If that means doing things and acting in ways that don’t come naturally, then so be it. Otherwise, you will risk failing like that 75 percent. Here are eight crucial points the pros agree are prerequisites to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
1. Take risks and be willing to fail
Failure doesn’t preclude you from ultimately succeeding – in fact, it’s often a necessary step. The best entrepreneurs don’t let the fear of failure prevent them from going for what they believe to be a great idea. Some of those risks won’t pan out, but the ones that do will be the ones that define you.
2. Never stop networking
When you haven’t gotten your business off the ground, connections will help to keep it afloat. When you do, those initial helpers will turn into powerful allies. Soon, you will be in the position to bring another struggling startup into the black.
“Make connections and keep a record on each person you meet,” Clare Dreyer, career expert, told Forbes. “Ask for their advice and help. Keep in touch with them along the way and build your network before you need it! Quality relationships are the keys to the kingdom.”
3. Learn your niche
Many startups succeed because they’ve identified a niche and have cornered that market. By discovering a service, product or feature no one else has thought of – or at least effectively pulled off – you give your company a shot at success. George Shepherd, Professor of Law at Emory University, recommends entrepreneurs “become the guru in that niche.”
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4. Be a consummate student
Long after you leave your last class, you still learn new things every day. As an entrepreneur, you must always be a student – willing to take advice, listen to other ideas and learn from those who’ve been there themselves.
“Entrepreneurship is about solving problems and learning on the go,” Andrew Medal wrote for Entrepreneur. “It’s exciting to learn new things and as entrepreneurs we should be learning something new every day.”
“You can’t make money without spending money.”
5. Don’t worry about your wallet…
If you’re starting a business, you’re going to take a few financial hits. As they say, you can’t make money without spending money. But there’s more to it than avoiding miserliness. The best entrepreneurs don’t think in terms of how much they make, they consider how much value they can add. That value might be financial, but it might well be social, psychological, or other ways.
6. …but try not to go broke
With that said, you can’t add value if you can’t pay rent or buy groceries. That’s when you’ll need to determine exactly what you need to do to support yourself while you pursue your entrepreneurial dream. Entrepreneur pointed out that a part-time job could be your saving grace – not only would it provide financial relief, it could provide an excellent networking outlet.
7. Be flexible and listen to the market
Even if you nail down the perfect niche, it won’t necessarily remain the same forever. Markets can be fickle and consumers want to be on the cutting edge. If you can’t pivot and react when the winds of change come, you’ll be blown away.
“Resist falling in love with your initial idea so you can discover what the market actually wants and is willing to pay for – and then give it to them,” Cherylanne Skolnicki, career coach, told Forbes.
8. Take care of yourself
What good is a successful startup if you destroy yourself in the process? Nothing is as precious as health, which is why you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being for the sake of your entrepreneurship. In fact, what might seem like hard work could ultimately derail your career. Losing sleep, eating unhealthily and allowing yourself to become stressed are surefire ways to shorten your life expectancy. By tending to your health, you’ll have the strength to carry out your goals.
There are always exceptions to the rules – anyone who has successfully maintained a startup is one of those exceptions. But you can take the element of chance out of the equation by following these expert tips and letting them guide your entrepreneurial spirit.