Tons of people I meet tend to be envious of the entrepreneurial life. There’s this fantasy about leading a life that you, and no one else, control. People who are hired always seem to be looking for the next move. Very few actually seems pleased about working for someone else. Then of course there’s people who love their work and would like to spend the rest of their life working for their boss. Sooner or later that dream is shattered when that boss of theirs of maybe beloved colleagues leaves the company. Then those people also long for the next gig.
I’ve been running my own business in different shapes for the last 11 years now and it’s been the ride of my life. It’s hard work and definitely not about having more time off. It’s rather about working 24/7 BUT I can
do it the way I want and create a room for family, friends and adventures as long as I make sure the business works. My personal point of view of entrepreneurship is not about making money but instead about making room for life while working with things I love that I can shape in a way that I want.
Now. So you want to be an entrepreneur. Here are 9 of things to think about.
1. Don’t quit your job.
Unless you inherited a huge fortune by some distant relative you should not quit your job to go after that dream of yours. Instead, start to build your business on the side of your regular business. If you have an idea for a product or service. Go after that idea after you’ve quite your working day. How do you find time for that? Well, how do you think me and other entrepreneurs find time for everything? We do like Gary Vaynerchuck “dont’s watch fuckin’ Lost”. We find time in the evenings, nights or early bird mornings. Waking up at 4AM is not that unusual to me. Some people might say that this is stressful. I just think it’s making use of the 24 hours we have. After all there’s an alternative – don’t do it.
2. Build your network.
When starting a business you need a lot of friends to rely on. Both old ones, but definitely new ones. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, forums online, offline networks – the world is full of wonderful places where you can make new friends. And nothing gets you to build your network better than offer people a free lunch. Basically don’t be afraid to approach people you don’t know and ask for support. If you don’t know them buy lunch, coffee or otherwise make sure you give them something else of value. People like to help each other but on the other hand people don’t like to feel used.
3. Tell people about your idea.
Don’t come dragging with a fantastic idea that you don’t want to tell people about without signing an NDA. The ones that can help you won’t sign that. The ones that will sign it will probably not ad any value to your process. By telling people about your idea you get feedback and more importantly they can point you in the right direction if they can’t help you themselves. After all, an idea is just an idea. An innovation is an idea turned into a profitable business. It’s the innovations you should be careful about.
4. Build a prototype
Don’t go asking for tons of money to turn your product into a finished product. There’s tons of ways to turn your idea into a sellable service or product without a pile of cash. Use a pen. Use some wood. Use some plastics. Use some code. Use the pen, the wood, the plastic and a some code together. Don’t care if it’s perfected. It’s far easier to sell people your idea if the can touch it, feel it and understand it. If you’ve added something unique to the market they have nothing to compare to so you’ll definitely will be able to sell it even though you think it can be perfected over time. Do you think the first Apple computer (built in a garage) looked nice? Did IKEAs first furniture (Ingvar was carried into a furniture fair rolled into a carpet cause everyone thought he wasn’t making real furnitures) make people go wow? Nikes first pair of sneakers (sole made in a waffle iron) didn’t impress many. They all however added something to the market that no one ever seen and that was the start of something big.
5. Listen to great people
Find people that will inspire you. Ask for advice. Look for knowledge. There’s tons of people out there that can and will help you. They might know things that will save a year of mistakes for you when starting your own business. Focus on listening for advice on processes, systems, documents, the law etc etc. This is where you’ll cut corners when starting your own business.
6. Don’t listen to great people!
Hey. Did I just say listen to great people. Yes I did. But note – don’t listen to much. When you look for advice you’ll probably run into people that know the business you’re in. They probably have years and years of knowledge and that’s a great asset when it comes to cutting corners. However, it’s also a great burden. These people will tell you it can’t be done, it’s been done before, it’s not possible, it’s not aloud, you wont find any clients etc etc. They’ll have all sorts of knowledge why your specific idea wont work. Don’t care about that. A great idea is usually about breaking the rules. A great and profitable idea is usually about timing. After all, Facebook didn’t do that many things that no one else did but they did it ‘just in time’ in the ‘right place’. Stay with your own idea and filter out most of the comments of what can’t be done.
7. Get help for things that is not your core knowledge.
Before I started my first company I was about to start probably 10 companies. Things like administration, financial planning, tax reporting etc scared my and made me stop. Then finally I teamed up with another entrepreneur that loved those things. Years later when I started more companies I hired those competences on a freelance basis. Starting a company is not hard at all – it’s making money that’s the tougher job.
8. Lean 45° forward
Becoming an entrepreneur is all about getting things to happen. Don’t put your idea on a paper and spend month on your business plan. If you’ve got a great idea – that’s it. Go ahead and make it happen. Put your foot in front of the other one, lean forward and don’t stop.
9. Find time for family, friends and yourselves
Starting a business will take a lot of time. Energy comes from success but do remember it also comes from friends, family and taking care of yourselves. It’s easy to get buried in work, especially in the beginning of something new. Make sure you never forget what put you in your position from the beginning. You probably have people backing you up. You draw energy from doing things you love. And most importantly, especially if you have kids, never forget your family. Your kids won’t stay young forever. You wont think it was worth the sacrifice to loose your friends and family!
10. Finally you have to jump
When the time is right. When that plane is ready for take off you have got to try the wings. If you are reading your this you at least have access to a computer or a mobile. That means you have the knowledge to Google the net and therefor also look for work. So, don’t be afraid of resigning your work once you feel your product or service has proved it might fly. As said before you shouldn’t quite your work up front. But once you’ve proved you can sell your idea a couple of times you should get going. It will be tough at first – but focus will get you there. If you in your free time has managed to take your idea from an idea to an ‘almost innovation’, meaning that you have sold products or services but not necessarily can life of it yet, you will most definetely stand a huge chance of becoming a true entrepreneur. After all, you’ve got there by spending stolen hours here and there on your idea, imagine where you’ll be in a year if you ad another 10 hours a day to that creative process.
That’s some advice on how to get you going. Now it’s up to you!