People have differing views on whether entrepreneurs are born or made. From my point of view, having met hundreds of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs are not born. People may think that entrepreneurs are a unique breed of people. Again, based on my experience, they are not. However, while some people sit and fantasize about the glamor of being their own boss and creating their own business, the people that become entrepreneurs take action. Is it easy to create a successful company? No. Statistics say that 90% of all new companies fail for one reason or another in the first five years. So, even considering all its rewards, entrepreneurship is a difficult and complicated path. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to plan.
Know that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs aren’t the ones who impulsively quit their jobs to chase a get-rich-quick idea. They are the ones with an entrepreneurial growth mindset, a unique set of perspectives and values that allow them to look for and see problems that others ignore. They do lots of research and gather as much information as possible about a potential startup solution. They aggressively try and mitigate risk at every step. Here are 10 perspectives that are differentiators you’ll need to have or develop if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur.
Challenges are opportunities. Setbacks, obstacles, and challenges are painfully common elements of entrepreneurship and are not to be avoided. Instead, successful entrepreneurs view challenges as opportunities. Each challenge or setback reveals a key opportunity to grow, either to improve upon an existing weakness or to take measures that avoid experiencing a similar setback in the future.
Competitors are research. Rather than viewing competitors as a threat, as most people would, entrepreneurs see competitors as opportunities to learn more about their industry and target market. By looking at your competitors’ customers, products and business models, you can learn what might make your business unique and leverage that uniqueness. Studying your competitors can provide you with insights you would never have if you were the first to launch.
Entrepreneurship requires effort. Entrepreneurship is multifaceted and constantly demanding, and there’s no shortage of pitfalls that could disrupt or destroy your business. Successful entrepreneurs are aware of this, and they’re aware that everything, from product development, sales, and marketing, requires significant effort to achieve success. Instead of looking for shortcuts, they’re pouring a strong work effort into their business.
Perfection never arrives. Young or inexperienced entrepreneurs might get caught up in chasing their original vision because original visions are almost invariably “perfect.” But perfection isn’t necessary to run a successful, profitable business. In fact, perfection is often what stalls progress. The time you spend trying to hammer down those last few details is likely going to end up as time wasted. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn once said if you are not embarrassed by your first version of the product, you are probably launching too late.
Little things lead to big things. This works for problems as well as solutions. For example, instead of seeing a large content-marketing campaign as a quick way to get traffic and new business, entrepreneurs see content marketing in terms of its individual components (e.g. blogging, social media marketing, SEO, link building, etc.), each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Successful entrepreneurs break down massive projects, problems, and campaigns into smaller, more manageable pieces. Small successes will lead to larger successes.
Learn from mistakes. The popular perception of massively successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos illustrates them as infallible leaders. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Successful entrepreneurs, even the rock stars among them, make mistakes often. Furthermore, they aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and they know how to learn from them. Making mistakes is healthy and normal, and the sooner entrepreneurs realize that, the better.
There is no magic formula. The successful entrepreneurs you read about in the news usually didn’t get there because they randomly stumbled upon a great idea. They got there because they poured years of effort and passion into a good problem/solution, and eventually their efforts paid off. You can’t become an entrepreneur expecting there to be a miracle. Even the best ideas in the world require patience, skill and endless team effort to earn that level of success.
Outside point of view. Entrepreneurs need to be good communicators, and that means actively listening to people with different ideas and opinions. Many business owners keep their business models and directives too rigid, ultimately restricting their ability to grow and leading to failure. Successful entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are constantly searching for individuals and experiences that will challenge their way of thinking and lead them to see things from a new perspective.
Discipline is not an option. To most people, discipline is something extra they might not want to do. It takes extra thought and effort to exercise, wake up on time or do anything other than spend leisure time. To successful entrepreneurs, discipline is normal and a top requirement. It’s a prerequisite that carries into all aspects of their lives. You have to have the discipline to commit to hard work, recruit the best possible people and know when to say yes and no.
Entrepreneurship is your life. Entrepreneurs wake up as entrepreneurs, go to work as entrepreneurs, come home as entrepreneurs and go to bed as entrepreneurs. There is no nine to five. Hopefully, you will do something that you love so much, it will not feel like work. The advantage of being an entrepreneur is that you have total control over your business and what you do in it. Entrepreneurship becomes your work and your life, and you need to be prepared if you’re going to survive the lifestyle and perhaps include your family on an amazing journey.
Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t going to be easy. If it was, everyone would be an entrepreneur. But you were not born to be anything. So, if you are going to work for 30 years, no one said you had to spend that time working for someone else. Do something you want to do and create a company to do it.