Any successful entrepreneur you see around would tell you that entrepreneurship can be such a lonely journey.
So lonely because not many people want to take risks, forgetting that it’s more risky not to take risk.
As a young person considering taking to entrepreneurship, you’ll agree with me that there are a number of opportunities that are seemingly more certain than entrepreneurship.
You have thoughts like “go get a paid job and build your career and forget about this madness”.
How do you respond to such thoughts? That’s what determines how far you’ll go as an entrepreneur.
So, what must you do to succeed as an entrepreneur?
1. You must develop a tough skin
Starting out, you must have a very tough skin. This way you will be able to resist all the pressures to abandon your entrepreneurial dreams.
You must be ready to endure ridicule from friends and colleagues who believe taking up a paid employment is a far saner option.
2. You must be patient to start small
Starting as an entrepreneur, you must be patient to start small. A number of African entrepreneurs want to be Aliko Dangotes and Tony Elumelus moments after starting. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
The Tony Elumelu we see today didn’t start today. The Dangote we see today started as an SME.
So, if you want to be the Dangote or Elumelu of tomorrow, then start the way he started.
Here’s the fact. If you want to wait until you have millions in your hands before you start, eternity is shorter than the length of time you’d have to wait before you eventually start.
3. You must build your skills as an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur starting out, you must build your skills. I can’t stress this enough. You must build your skills.
Remember that when starting out, you don’t have enough money to pay all the staff you need to succeed.
Therefore, the fact is, you’ll have to do everything, from financial management, to marketing, to operations planning, to Human Resources management to product development, everything.
So, think about it. If you don’t have skills in these areas, then they would suffer to the detriment of your fledging business.
Therefore, it can’t be over stressed that you need to acquire as much skills as possible that are relevant to your business.
4. You must have a mentor who’s a successful entrepreneur
Starting out as an entrepreneur, you need a mentor. You must understand that success in business is 10% academic and 90% experience.
You need to be guided by someone who has been in the business before you. Someone to tell you which paths to avoid. There are certain mistakes you can avoid through the advice of a mentor.
So, look for a successful player in the industry you’re in. Or one who has good and practical knowledge of the business you’re involved in. Take him/her as mentor and leverage their wealth of experience.
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5. You must build strong networks
As an entrepreneur starting out, you must build strong networks.
You know what they say: you’re an average of five people you move out with.
Here’s the fact. You need to build strong networks and surround yourself with positively minded people. Those who can inspire you to be a better you.
Link up with people who can provide you with connections to get certain things done. People who can connect you to suppliers with better offerings. People with links to markets for your products, avenues to improve your skills etc.
6. You need to get a cofounder
As an entrepreneur starting out, you need to get a cofounder.
I know many people might not be comfortable with this. But the plain fact is that you need a cofounder.
Just take a look at it. 8 out of 10 top businesses you see today have cofounders or at least had cofounders when they started.
There are a number of benefits associated with having a cofounder.
First, you have someone who shares your vision and can encourage you when you feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Second, you have someone who takes away some of the burden associated with managing a new business.
Third, you have someone who can bring in the skills and experiences you don’t possess into the business.
In fact, it might interest you to know that most venture capitalists aren’t eager to fund sole-founded businesses.
You know why?
That’s because the impression that having just you as the founder gives to Venture Capitalists is that no one else believes in your dream and joins you. Why then should the
If your friends and close pals couldn’t trust your idea enough to get onboard as cofounders, how do you expect venture capitalists who, by the way, are total strangers, to trust your idea?
Note for instance that Y-Combinator, one of the world’s largest venture capitalists has a funding policy. Going by this policy, Y-Combinator does NOT fund businesses with one founder.
So, try get a cofounder for your business!
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7. You must be objective about your business
Starting out as an entrepreneur, you must be objective about your business.
Sometimes, we as new entrepreneurs get so thrilled by our business ideas that we can’t see beyond our noses that it’s not flying.
While you must be persistent in your business, you must also be very sensitive and objective.
Tell yourself the truth and evaluate the fortunes as well as direction of the business objectively.
Kenny Roger in his song “The Gambler” says “every gambler knows that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw in and knowing what to keep”.
You must know when to back out of a particular trajectory. Otherwise, you’ll keep on making unnecessary losses until you’re totally bankrupt. At which point you’ll be forced to abandon your entrepreneurial aspirations.
8. You must always look out for opportunities
Starting out, you must always be on the look out for opportunities that can enhance the fortunes of your business.
The fact is that gaining thorough knowledge on how to manage your business might come at a cost. Indeed, a cost that might be way above what you can afford.
Taking courses on financial management, operations management, Human Resources management marketing management etc. from a reputable business school might cost you an arm and a leg.
However, from time to time, some corporate institutions roll out entrepreneurship development initiatives.
Through such initiatives, they offer to pay for these premium training programs for entrepreneurs that are competitively selected.
Some examples here would include:
Sterling Bank’s Pitch Nigeria Challenge.
Federal Government YouWiN! Connect Program.
Diamond Bank Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) Program.
Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.
World Bank Big Portal Entrepreneurship Program.
Look out for these opportunities usually published here on www.entrepreneurssquare.com and apply whenever they are open.
Some, if not all of these opportunities come with some form of funding support. This support would enable you secure the funding you need to start or grow your business.
9. You must be disciplined
More so, as an entrepreneur starting out, you must be disciplined.
The fact is, if you’re not disciplined, you have no business being an entrepreneur and can’t possibly survive.
You must for instance know what funds are personal and what belongs to the business.
You shouldn’t dip your hands into the business’ funds to sought out personal financial issues. Otherwise, the business is doomed.
Set out a fixed amount (salary) that you’ll take out of the business monthly for your personal upkeep. Endeavor to stick to that religiously.
Don’t take out cash carelessly or impulsively.
Need I tell you that the lifeblood of any business is cash?
When you keep taking out the business’ lifeblood, what do you expect other than death of the business?
Also, take a look at it. Say you’re supposed to wake up every morning by 5am so you can prepare for an early start at your shop.
However, due to lack of discipline, you stay on your bed up until 7am. How will the business survive when you would have missed out on the early morning rush hour sales?
You need to be disciplined!
Know when to walk away and when to stay on.
Don’t allow your personal desires to come in the way of your business and prompt you to take hasty or rash business decisions.
10. You must manage your time properly
Finally as an entrepreneur starting out, you must be a good time manager.
The saying that time is money applies to no other human endeavor as much as it applies to business.
Time and chance separate a successful entrepreneur from an unsuccessful one.
If you can’t manage your time, the odds of succeeding in business are quite slim.
You must manage your time and that involves prioritizing your activities.
Develop a daily to-do list and be guided accordingly. Such a list should be timebound and followed conscientiously.
Things that would contribute directly to the success of the business should be prioritized.
They might be a few of them. But, if you remember the 80:20 rule, then you’ll understand why these should be prioritized.
At the end of the day, evaluate how consistent you’ve been with executing items on your to-do list.
If you were largely unsuccessful, find out the challenges you faced and how you can avoid them going forward.
Provide enough time for recreation so you don’t break down.
You need a perfectly sound mind and body to endure the stress associated with managing a startup.
Manage your time properly!
Good luck in your business.
Have you applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program Grant 2019? If no, then visit the TEF Connect platform Now and Apply before March 1, 2019
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