Entrepreneurship 101: Starting A Successful Business That Thrives

I want to create great work. I want to live an exciting, fascinating, and forward-moving life. I don’t want to be stagnant…. I want to bring a sense of “I’m excited to be here.” This is what gets me up early and keeps me up late,” says Cheril Clarke, a long-term entrepreneur and founder of PhenomenalWriting.com. This is a sentiment that many entrepreneurs share. 

An entrepreneur is a term we hear a lot in this country, but do we really know what it is? When we think of entrepreneurs, we think of business owners of all types. Restauranteurs, auto shop owners, digital startups, self-employed photographers; all of these would count as entrepreneur careers.

But what is the defining factor? The word entrepreneur comes from the French word “to undertake.” No, not a grave-digging undertaker, but a person who undertakes risk and initiative with the end goal of financial profit. Entrepreneurs are defined as anyone who takes a risk with the goal of financial profit. Obviously making money is not the only motivator for entrepreneurs, but risk-taking, usually in the form of financial investments, is the underlying theme of all entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are also working to build something that will last. One of the defining factors for an entrepreneur is to take the necessary steps to create a business that will, when managed properly, continue making them money while they are not working. A cafe owner, for example, will make money while the cafe is doing business, even if she’s picking up kids from school.

Are you ready to punch out of that nine-to-five and focus on your passion full-time? Taking the first step towards entrepreneurship is not easy, but creating a path for yourself and your vision, as well as making an impact on your community, can be a reward experience Here are five steps to take when becoming an entrepreneur. 

EVALUATE YOUR SKILLS

Get real honest with yourself and determine what are your strengths and areas for improvement. Make a list of both. This will give you a clearer idea of where you will shine and where you will need support. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know the areas in which you will need to ask for help. Too often entrepreneurs work at trying to be everything to their business, and in the end, suffer because they just can’t do it all. For example, if tracking sales and keeping your books in order is something you don’t have any understanding about, don’t be afraid to bring in a professional to help you get on the right track.

RESEARCH

You should also research the available market, analyzing the area for demand and need. Maybe, you want to open a fine Italian dining restaurant in your hometown. Are the other restaurants succeeding? Is there another fine dining in your area? Can the local customers afford to eat at a high-end restaurant, or would they prefer a more-moderate place to eat? Do they even like Italian food? Finding the answers to these questions, and more, will be essential to your long-term success.

MAKE A PLAN

A business plan is your roadmap to success. How will you know how to reach your goals if you don’t have a plan? You won’t know every detail about your plan when you begin. That’s okay. Use a business plan template to get started. If you are confident in your business idea, you can create your business plan in as little as 30 minutes. This roadmap should be flexible as you learn and grow.

FIND A MENTOR

Aligning yourself with someone who can support you and give you advice is important. Look in your network to find someone whose business you admire. Ask them to dinner or lunch. Any time you meet with a mentor or a potential mentor be ready to ask valuable questions. Don’t waste their time with uncertainty. You can learn from them and most often, they want to see you succeed and they are willing to help.

GET INTO THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET

Each entrepreneur’s path is different. What remains the same is the mindset. Once you choose to be an entrepreneur, there are a few things to understand will happen and not let it change your mindset. Failure is inevitable. Fail fast. Learn the lesson. Move on. You will be the most important person to hold accountable to yourself. Ideas to help you get into the mindset would be to follow top entrepreneur websites or blogs, identify top entrepreneur books and read them with the idea of applying what you are learning.

Becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business is one of life’s most challenging and rewarding journeys. It means different things to different people. For some it’s a far superior alternative to the drudgery that’s offered by the typical corporate 9-to-5. That being said, for all of the perks that the entrepreneurial path offers, it’s far from being all roses.

Annika Bansal
 

Annika "The Chick Geek" is the founder of AnnikaBansal.com. Small Business Sense shares small business ideas, tips and resources for independent Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners.