Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The True Entrepreneur is a Doer, Not a Dreamer

There are lots of people out there thinking about starting a small business. Few people actually go out and do it.  So many people think and think about it. Until they find they’re fifty-something, still with that great idea, but no business.

There’s no doubt it takes a special type of person to be an entrepreneur.  It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.  It takes desire to succeed, courage, perseverance. It takes a great deal of will power to continue to work at it in the face of the setbacks you will have to deal with.  But what else does it take to be a successful small business owner?


Of course, it takes technical skills.  That goes without saying.  And,  being good at what you do isn't enough.  You need to be very good at it before you even think about starting your small business.  We assume you have those technical skills. What else do successful entrepreneurs have in common?

I would think being decisive, self-disciplined and a self-starter have to be a couple of the top traits.  You can't stay in bed in the morning or not have to work forty hours a week. The truth is, you’ll be working far more than forty hours a week for quite awhile. Most often you will have very little money to show for it.

There won’t be anyone telling you what to do, how to do it and when it needs to be done (except for your clients of course, and it seems to me they often want things done now!).  So, you will need to be able to make decisions. You need enough discipline to work at it every day, no matter how discouraged you might be.

The fact that you are your own boss means you should be self-directing too.  It also means you should be able to set priorities and plan well.  You have to meet deadlines and be able to work until you finish the job.

How well do you deal with stress?  How do you deal with uncertainty?  Successful entrepreneurs need to deal with both well.  Running a business is stressful at the best of times. It can be even more stressful when things aren’t going well.  And things are rarely certain.  That big client you have that you think is so loyal could decide to go elsewhere for no clear reason.

Are you able to make short term sacrifice for long term gain?  It might be tempting to take the first money your company earns and spend it on clothes or on your house or your car. Is that the best thing for your small business? Or should you be leaving the money in the company and using it to build your business?

Most entrepreneurs have to be a jack of all trades, at least in the beginning.  Let’s say you build the best darn widget in the country.  After you lease space and have all your tools, the next thing you might want to do is find suppliers. You have to source the parts you’ll need to put it together.  Then you’ll have to negotiate terms with them, so now you’re a purchasing agent as well as a manufacturer.
Customers aren’t going to come and find you. You have to figure out ways to let people know who you are, where you are and what you can do for them.  That means you also need to know something about marketing.  You’re required to keep proper records, so you’re a bookkeeper too.  And you're responsible for all your small business' financial decisions. You’ll have to answer the phones and make appointments, which means you’re also a secretary.

You won’t have all those skills and you can’t afford to hire someone to do most of those jobs. You’re going to have to be willing to learn new things and be a quick study.  You won’t see any direct money for these jobs either.  Are you willing to put in the hours it takes to learn these skills? Can you perform them without seeing immediate results?

Finally, procrastination and owning a business don’t seem to go well together.  A person who tends to put off until tomorrow what can be done today is not suited to owning their own business.

Nobody is going to be the perfect entrepreneur.  I doubt there’s anyone who has all the personality traits we’ve talked about.  But, you should be willing to take an honest look at yourself.  You should have some of the traits I’ve mentioned and you need to know how to compensate for areas where you’re weak.

A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.

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