According to a popular adage, “you do not test the depth of the river with both feet”. These cautionary words are relevant for most situations in life. To embark on anything in life, you must do your due diligence and decide if you want to do it or not.
Entrepreneurship/being self-employed falls right into this category. With the benefit of experience and hindsight, I have identified a few things that any person that wants to be an entrepreneur should bear in mind before taking the first step into the world of entrepreneurship.
Nobody gives a sh*t
This is the truth, so suck it up and keep pushing! Nobody will care that you think you are smart or clever or that you think you will be the richest person to walk the surface of the earth in your time. Oh no, darling! Nobody will care because they do not know you and you haven’t demonstrated the value you can potentially bring to the world.
Most people will not care about what you are doing. They will probably think you are crazy, until you are able show them value! Keep going, don’t mind naysayers (they will be a dime a dozen) and never forget the first people that believed in you and saw the value in you when others couldn’t see it.
It involves hard work
If you think you work hard in a 9 – 5 job, know that you will work 10 times as hard as an entrepreneur… and for nothing too – at least for the first few years. You will work 24/7 nonstop!
In fact, you will even work in your dreams, because your mind will not stop thinking, planning, organising, strategizing, etc. You will work weekdays and weekends. Be prepared.
The passion MUST be there
Before your business breaks even, and even when it does, you need a truck load of passion to keep you motivated and to keep going. A lot of things will happen: good, bad, ugly, planned and unplanned. Some days, you will find yourself putting in all your energy just to fan the embers of your dreams, just to ensure that the fire doesn’t go out completely. PASSION and ONLY PASSION will get you through these tough times.
Your passion/pursuit will take you to corners of the earth that you would never imagine that in your right senses you would go. But guess what? You will go to those places, meet all sorts of people and you will enjoy the journey/process, in hindsight! ☺
Your network is important
The people you meet along the way will push you farther than everything you have learnt. The power of networking can never be over emphasised. When I say networking, I am not encouraging you to go out and attend every event in town. I am asking instead that you cultivate meaningful relationships with the people you meet along the way.
You do not meet people by accident. There is always a reason – a blessing or a lesson. It is your duty to figure out the reason for every encounter with people. Expand your network. Mix with people from different backgrounds and social classes. There is always something to gain from diversity.
Have broad knowledge
In a 9 – 5, you are restricted to one department/knowledge of one field. As an entrepreneur, you must play the orchestra, not just one instrument. This means that you must know accounting, you must know how to market, you must understand HR, you must understand IT, etc. Everyone is looking up to you to make decisions and make decisions you must! The decisions you make must be smart and well informed in order for your company to keep growing and for your staff to trust you. You must be smart!
You need money
While you may not need a billion dollars to start off your business, you certainly need money to sustain it.
Money is the lifeblood of any business. Money, be it capital or working capital is important so you must plan this out and map out ways to ensure that you have money as at when needed. One way to go around it is to learn to be resourceful.
For example, you may consider creating some of the things you need to start/run your business, instead of purchasing them.
Everything you need to succeed is available. If you do not know what you need, even if the thing is right in front of you, you will not know you need it. You must keep an eye out for opportunities and be prepared to take advantage of them.
You will not become a superstar overnight
… Or even in the first 3 years – oh no darling, please recalibrate that dream.
You will have to quickly learn to do what you are doing for passion and to add value to society and not for applause or gratification. Persistence is key.
Progress is a process and success takes time. Your ability to become a super star rests on your persistence, passion and drive. Accept the days of working backstage and see it as the preparation time for your time on the big stage. Trust the process and be patient.
You need a strong/loyal team
To make any significant mileage, you need the right team/set of people with you. You cannot do it on your own, you need help. Ensure that you get people that are honest, passionate and are moving in the same direction as you. It doesn’t matter if the person is male, female, literate or illiterate. The right people is all that matters, not just qualifications.
This also applies to the choice you make about your spouse. There may be a few unfruitful years in business ahead. You need a spouse that will constantly support and invest in you, and not one that will pressure you to pack up shop at the first sight of trouble.
You don’t know as much as you think you do
That’s fine, as long as you know you don’t know and as long as you are open to learning and figuring things out as you go along. You will change and evolve as you grow and so will your dreams and ideas. You must keep learning in order to keep up with the fast pace of change in the world, to improve yourself and to stay ahead.
Being an entrepreneur does not guarantee success
This is the sad truth! A lot of people will try and fail, and like many others before you, you will also record many failures of your own too, some more epic than others. In fact, at the point of starting out, failure will be the only thing guaranteed! The most important thing is to not be defined by your failure. Fail and fail fast! Learn and move on from it quickly. Remain loyal to yourself and your course through every failure for this is the way to succeed. Ensure that you learn and grow with every failure.
Entrepreneurship is not a “job title”. It is a state of mind. Before you decide to join the wagon, know what it truly entails and decide if you are made of the stuff that is required to achieve success in the volatile and harsh reality that is the world of entrepreneurship. It is not an easy road to travel but it is a journey that is well worth the bumps and the distance!
If you do decide to join the wagon, remember that the longer you stick at it, the more likely you are to get lucky create your own luck through hard work, patience, determination, persistence and perseverance.
Remember, start now, start small – just do it!