5 Tips to Being an Entrepreneur
The typical career path of working as an employee for an established business works for the vast majority of people. This system is common, accepted, and for the average Joe or Jane, totally fine.
But what about the rest of us?
If the idea of independence is important to you, if you feel that your creative potential is stifled by the workplace, or if you just want something new, entrepreneurship may be the path to take. The jump into the unknown, while liberating, can also be intimidating. Here are five tips to help you make the adjustment:
1. Be realistic
What product or service are you going to provide? Will people want it enough for you to make a profit? Can you handle running a business, with all of its complexities of budgeting, scheduling, marketing, and providing customer service? These are hard questions, and should not be taken lightly. Assess your plan and your ability to carry it out from an objective standpoint, not a romantic one. Sure, a dog-washing business run out of a VW van sounds awesome, but will you actually make money?
2. Understand your market
It’s easy to make blanket advertisements that wash over a wide audience without making an impression on anyone. What’s more difficult (though also more effective) is to target marketing attempts at those who have a highest chance of becoming paying customers. Where do these people congregate? What magazines or newspaper sections do they read? Where are they spending their time on the internet? Establish a base first, and then expansion is possible.
3. Start cheap, work your way up
It’s important to turn a profit as soon as you can, but it’s also important to draw people in. If you provide a good product that people like, make it affordable. News spreads fast these days, and people love to tell each other about good deals they find. Get on Groupon and LivingSocial. Once you have committed customers, then you can price upgrades, add-ons, additional services, and other money-makers at a higher level.
4. It’s impossible to succeed with unhappy employees
Well, if you consider yourself as an employee, this statement is probably untrue. You’re going to be miserable. But if you’re growing enough to need employees (actually need them, not just think you need them because you haven’t slept recently), take good care of them. Personal attention, bonuses, kind words. Casual Fridays. Don’t become the boss that you quit the rat race because of.
5. Failure is an option
Sure, it’s not a good option. In fact, it’s a pretty terrible one. But it’s a reality that every entrepreneur must be aware of and prepared for. What’s your backup plan? Are you cutting yourself off from future opportunities? How much debt are you willing to take on to finance your dream? If in the end your venture doesn’t pan out, approach it as a lesson for next time. Having the courage to attempt this is valuable in itself, not to mention all of the skills you will learn for the next time around.
Entrepreneurship can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing is to be flexible and unafraid. Look at it this way—every business started in someone’s garage, somewhere. Yours could be next.