So you want to start your own business, but before you do, there are some steps you need to take to get in the right position and mindset to become an entrepreneur. I know because I was once in your shoes.
Here are some of the steps I took when I was a pre-entrepreneur that positioned me for greater success when I was ready for the role of entrepreneur:
- I decided my regular job just wasn't satisfying anymore. Reaching this decision is critical to making this radical change in your life. It's one thing to have a job you don't really enjoy but that comes with a guaranteed paycheck every two weeks and benefits like paid vacation and sick time. However, it's something entirely different to realize that those things are not enough to keep you, not just happy, but fulfilled. I realized I wanted to work on my terms and do something that involved creating something new, different, and challenging.
- I developed an idea I was passionate about pursuing and offered something new. While you may like the idea of working for yourself, it's important to have an idea that you feel passionate about and that can offer something new or valuable to the marketplace. I had a lot of ideas growing up for businesses, but I lost interest in some of these ideas while other ideas just were not different enough from what was already available. It was when I discovered a solution for a problem for a certain target audience that I truly got excited and knew I had something viable and valuable.
- I weighed the potential risks involved in business ownership. While I never truly could comprehend what those risks meant until I was already running my own business, it did help to become more aware of what can happen so I could be as ready as possible should the unexpected hit me. This means spending considerable time on researching the risks involved in any business - but especially in a start-up. The risks involve everything from legal issues to lost capital to a failed business.
- I sought the advice of many other entrepreneurs. Although I spent considerable time studying the business segment I wanted to pursue and researched the risks, it was very beneficial to meet with other entrepreneurs who had already been there and done that. In the beginning I mostly did this in meet-ups. These entrepreneurs had valuable advice that helped me rethink some of the original strategy and thought processes related to running a business. Rather than reinventing the wheel, hearing about what worked and what to avoid saved me a lot of time and money.
- I ensured there was a support system. While I wanted to prove to myself that I could run a successful business, it's true that no man is an island. I actually needed to be more like a peninsula by striking out on my own yet still being connected to a support system that I could turn to. My support system consisted of friends and family as well as mentors that helped me make the transition to being an entrepreneur. They all listened to me and encouraged me, and even offered some funds when resources were scarce. These people who believed in me and helped build the confidence I needed, made it possible for me to keep moving forward.
- I clarified my priorities. If I was going to be an entrepreneur and work the long hours, I had to put my life into perspective. This meant deciding what had to be my focus and what could wait. I had faced a life-altering experience early on where I was not sure I would ever walk again, so taking on this role of an entrepreneur was part of the process for starting over. Up until the accident, I had wanted to work in another industry that I was excited about. But I would not be able to work in that way now. I literally had to learn to walk again before I could run as an entrepreneur. Once I did, I was more determined than ever to be successful at whatever I focused on. Hopefully you won't ever have to face this same experience, but you will have to consider and face other parts of yourself that will be life altering. This includes reflecting on why you want to become an entrepreneur, determining what else you really want out of life, and consider if both of these ideals and goals can work together.
- I prepared for the risk. Mentally, I prepared myself as best I could for becoming a risk taker. Essentially, this is what defines an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is willing to do what others are not in order to have what others will not have. Of course, when I say risk I mean calculated risks. I didn't just jump out of a plane and check halfway down if I had my parachute. I still researched, planned, and assessed as much as I could, but then I turned on my risk-taking mindset and made the leap of faith.
- I got my finances in order. While I was always the careful one in the family about money, earning as much as I could and saving most of it for rainy days, I knew that it took more than money to make these limited resources go the distance until my startup could actually start making money. If you are not savvy with money, it is important that you learn more about finances and how to conserve and stretch available funds. Learn as much as you can about finances by taking courses and getting advice from a financial advisor. But, above all, make sure you know how to handle money. And, if your personal finances are in disarray, you may want to consider putting your entrepreneur desires on hold until you get your situation sorted out and in the positive.
- I learned as much as I could about technology. Not only was I starting a technology-based business that required an understanding of how and why it worked, but I was also part of a generation that relied on technology to run their professional and personal lives. I put considerable time into this step because I saw that technology could help me be more productive, efficient, and conservative with my limited resources. The ongoing demand for technology solutions for the marketplace was also a driving force for studying diligently. I wanted to make sure I did technology right because I could see I might not get a second chance.
- I stopped thinking and acting like an employee. Although I knew I wanted to be my own boss, I had to figure out how that worked. It seems like this would be easy, but I found myself often thinking like an employee because it's the only position that I had ever held. I no longer had someone to tell me what to do or whether I was doing something right or wrong. I had no disciplinarian to keep me in line and no person reminding me to take my breaks and lunch. Suddenly, it was on me, so I had to practice being self-motivated, self-disciplined, and self-informed to make decisions and get things done.
. However, in taking these steps as a "pre-entrepreneur," I removed a significant amount of the fear and replaced it with confidence, knowledge, and support to be successful with my startup. Now it's your turn.
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