Entrepreneur Success – Fairytale vs Reality

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There’s a lot written about written about start-up entrepreneurs on the internet. Everybody is either becoming one or wants to be one. And more than a handful of people you meet at the average networking event describe themselves as one.

But in fact, once upon a time, to say you were an entrepreneur was a bad thing – think disgraced 80’s tycoons. It either meant you couldn’t get a ‘real’ job or that you were ‘ripping the system off’ somehow.

Fast forward a couple of decades and suddenly it’s all the rage to be an entrepreneur – especially if you describe yourself as working in a start-up. All you need to do is hang a shingle, get a website and voila, instant success. Or at least that’s how the internet makes it appear.

Other myths include that an entrepreneur;

  • runs a goodly number of businesses at the same time – apparently, they get bored easily
  • takes huge risks – most likely with other people’s money, and
  • our favourite – ‘flips’ those businesses after a couple of years for vast sums of money that allow them to retire on million dollar salaries for life.
  • pays little or no tax.

Now if you run a business, it’s possible that you’ve seen a lot of this stuff in the media and on social media in the past (maybe even today) and you’re wondering what it is that you’re doing wrong because you’re finding it so much harder to achieve what seems like ordinary success – ie: paying the bills and achieving some kind of profit when compared with that.

Well, the good news is that in nearly 20 years of meeting and working with business owners, I have yet to meet anyone who fits that model. Maybe I don’t meet enough people (unlikely – given what we do and how successful they’ve been over time) or maybe they just don’t really exist – except in business fairytales.

If you run a business, you might be wondering what the difference is between a small business owner who say runs an accounting, design or widget business and an entrepreneur. I’ve heard lots of definitions over time – mostly to do with vision, growth, risk tolerance, staff numbers, number of hours they should be working, etc.

Wikipedia describes the term entrepreneur as “commonly used to describe an individual who organizes (sic) and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so.”

Yes, that’s it – it’s not exciting, not flashy – it’s just someone who runs a business – end of story. In other words someone just like you!

So how do you succeed? Here are four great starting points for you to consider.

1. Do or Keep Doing What You Love

As an entrepreneur, there’s no doubt that you’ll spend lots and lots of time in your business. There will be many challenges (some might even seem insurmountable at the time) which is why it’s important to love what you do – enough to keep going. Having a passion for what you do (either your craft/profession or your customers or even the solutions/outcomes you deliver) will help see you through the tough times.

2Plan Everything – But Be Prepared to Deviate If Necessary

Having a plan is crucial – but be prepared to make changes if necessary. Having a plan will at least get you on a path. Not having a plan could see you spin in circles, wasting time (not something we business owners have a lot of). Start by writing down your goals over the next year (turnover, client numbers, sales units, profit – whatever counts for you and will change depending on where you are in your business). Then plan how you will achieve them. You’d be surprised how powerful they can be once written down. And once it’s on a piece of paper or on the screen – that’s one less thing for you to hold in your head.

3. Focus

Once you’ve got your numbers decided, maintaining your focus is critical. As a business owner, you’re likely to be totally bombarded with ‘opportunities’ to do this and that. Some of them will even look really, really interesting. But they all serve to take your eye off the goal that you’ve already set. The world’s most successful people have all said that focussing on the end goal (often to the exclusion of everything else) is key. My favourite example of this is Tony Hsieh’s Zappos story.

4. Expect to Work Lots of Hours

Yes, I know, I’ve read the 4 hour Work Week too. But if you’re serious about building a strong, robust business with staying power, you (and every other business owner) will be putting in the hours – at least for the first couple of years. I always used to joke that running my own business gave me great flexibility – I could work any 80 hours a week I wanted to. And it’s true there’s lots of flexibility around when you work – but you will still likely end up working a good 60-80 hours a week.

5Build Your Team

Every successful business owner talks about the importance of building a team. Now that can be suppliers, staff or contractors – whatever fits your business best. But it’s important to get yourself out of being responsible for doing everything that’s required of you to run your business. If you run a service business, maybe that’s someone to help with the ‘doing’ in order to free you up to work on getting more business in. Or if your business is your craft, it’s important to get people to help free you up so that you can spend as much of your time on it as possible. Whilst it can be scary (especially if you’re just starting out) once you hire your first person, the usual response is “oh I wish I’d done it earlier.” So best put that into your plans.

Surrounding yourself with people who share the same enthusiasm, support and vision for your business are vital. Let’s face it, it’s less fun putting in all the time and effort if there’s no-one to share the wins along the way with (or to share a drink with when the going gets tough).

If you start with these four things, you’ll be on your way to ‘overnight entrepreneurial success’ in a couple (or ten) years time. And if we can help you build your team through outsourced admin or providing someone to answer your phone whilst you’re in meetings, on the road or just getting things done, we’d be delighted to talk further. You can reach us on 9994 8000 or you can drop us a note.



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Article by Michelle

June 17, 2014