“Being an entrepreneur isn’t just a job title; it isn’t just about starting a company. It’s a state of mind. It’s about seeing connections others can’t, seizing opportunities others won't, and forging new directions that others haven’t” ~ Tory Burch
There’s no magic pill that can transform you into a successful entrepreneur overnight. But stories abound of people quitting their jobs and going on to establish successful businesses. It takes determination and a lot of hard work coupled with personal and professional skills.
Read on for the best tips and advice on how to become a good entrepreneur.
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Tip #1 - Think Like A Business Owner
There are around 49.5 million entrepreneurs running businesses in the United States, some more successful than others. So, what is it that sets them apart from the rest of the population? We’d say it is their mindset. The business owner’s mindset, also known as the entrepreneurial mindset, is “a specific state of mind which orientates human conduct towards entrepreneurial activities and outcomes.”
And among the first few things to do while thinking like an entrepreneur are:
Develop Leadership Skills
Whether you run a one-person online business or a full-fledged e-commerce setup developing leadership skills is a no-brainer. As a business owner, you may have the ability to come up with a business plan, but you also need leadership skills to bring that plan to fruition.
This involves motivating and inspiring your employees to work together to achieve your business objectives. In addition, developing leadership skills helps you:
- Communicate effectively
- Make better decisions
- Improve your problem solving skills
- Enhance your adaptability
Improve Financial Literacy
In your journey as an entrepreneur, knowing the basics of financial literacy is not enough. You must understand profit, loss, equity, cashflow and other technical concepts. You must build on that knowledge, especially as you scale your business and the financial decision-making grows more complex. Being financially literate helps you manage your finances and debts effectively and place you in a better position to reach your financial goals.
Build Business Relationships
As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” This is true for entrepreneurs too. Networking and building relationships are among the building blocks of successful businesses.
And this doesn’t just mean external relationships — with your clients or suppliers. You need to pay attention to internal relationships, including your employees, business partners, mentors, and peers. These relationships are equally necessary for business growth.
You can look at it this way — your relationship with external partners is what keeps your businesses afloat, but it is your relationships with your internal partners that keep your business from falling apart.
Tip #2 - Stay Hungry for Success
The drive to start a business, overcome challenges and succeed should be motivation enough for you to engage in the daily grind and thrive. There is no room for complacency. The fruits of success are fleeting – clients are clinched, projects get completed, then income streams dry up.
Staying hungry is what keeps you working towards attracting new customers, setting new sales quotas, and achieving your next level of success. This section covers how to become a good entrepreneur by embracing this hunger.
Be Prepared to FAIL
The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that for every 1 million businesses that open, 898,000 businesses close. On average, 67.6% of new businesses survive their first two years, but the number dwindles to 48.8% in five, 33.6% in ten, and only 25.7% at the fifteen-year mark. And this 25.7% are those that did not let failure hold them back.
Don’t let failure stop you from dreaming and believing in that impossible dream. FAIL is just your First Attempt In Learning. Instead, apply the lessons learned on your next attempt. While Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 were the first to step on the moon almost 50 years ago, it was a series of preceding missions that actually helped get them there.
That said, it’s always good business practice to:
- Have realistic projections at the outset
- Include prepared contingencies for dealing with unexpected occurrences
- Try out of the box solutions for challenges that come up
Ask for Advice
One of the more common sense entrepreneur tips and strategies is asking for advice from others. You don’t necessarily have to go through the hassle of learning by experience when you can seek advice from successful entrepreneurs. If you’re too shy or proud to approach someone personally, you could always look to alternative approaches.
- Research and read about other entrepreneurs
- Enroll in courses
- Listen to podcasts
- Attend local business and entrepreneurship events
It’s no substitute for hard work, but it’ll help you achieve your goals faster.
Let Your Critics Be Your Best Friends
It is a human trait to take things personally, especially when the business you have invested so much of yourself in is criticized. But to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to learn how to set your ego aside and do what it takes so your business succeeds. This means learning to listen to constructive – and maybe even the most negative criticisms. You then use these to improve yourself and your business. This way, you have also turned your critics into your allies and the negative reviews in your favor.
Tip #3 - Put your Customer First
A simple fact of running businesses is that you won’t have an income stream without customers. Without income, your business is bound to shut down. It’s both common and good business sense, then, to always put your customers first.
Know What Your Customers Want Before They Do
You aren’t in the business of reading minds, but in today’s digital age, you should learn how to leverage technology to study trends and tailor your business solutions accordingly. Terms like big data and business analytics aren’t just buzzwords. Instead, these are tools that help you become very familiar with a specific customer to the point of being able to anticipate what the customer might want and need.
For example, if a customer buys a vacuum cleaner, they might want to buy an extension cord, spare filters, and additional garbage bags. Go pitch that sale! What product or service are customers coming to you for? Go make the next best offer! You can do this automatically by using data to grow your business.
Focus on Outcomes, Not Outputs
“Outputs are important products, services, profits, and revenues — the What. Outcomes create meanings, relationships, and differences — the Why.”
And we agree, it’s not just semantics.For example, you may have approached a customer with a hard sell. The output may have been one sale, but the outcome is that you annoyed that customer so much they’ve promised themselves to have nothing to do with you again.
On the flip side, you may have a customer ask you a bunch of questions. You provided them with the best customer support, yet they didn’t buy anything – no output for you there. But they did refer you to other people who, in turn, came to do business with you — now that is a great outcome.
5 Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Advice
Jack Ma is well-known as a businessman and the founder of Alibaba. But many do not know the string of failures he saw in his early days. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to “Never give up.” “Today is hard,” he says, and “tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine”.
We asked some veteran ecommerce owners to share their business tips about entrepreneurs. Here are their thoughts!
Most Important Skill for an Entrepreneur
“Prioritization. Initially, your priorities appear clear as you mainly just need to focus on sales and growth. But with time, more and more fires will pop up in your business and you can’t extinguish them all at once.”
“The ability to adapt to change and be coachable (or to hire someone who is). Everything changes so quickly, that if you don’t adapt, you will be left behind.”
How to Deal with Unexpected Challenges
“Having a solid strategy in place and then adamantly bringing the right people on board to help you execute the strategy. In short, you must always work to "Only do what only you can do."
“My recommendation is to reach out to a specialist right away. They are expensive, but worth considering; keep in mind you only get so many chances!”
Key Metrics to Always Keep in Mind as an Entrepreneur
“Conversion rate and impressions - Knowing what is working and why. By knowing these two metrics in A/B tests, I can leverage what is working, and remove the guessing or assumptions caused by our own personal biases.”
“Profitability - while in the short term it may be ok to run at a loss for the benefit of improved ranking and exposure, you should understand all the costs associated with your business and at what point you are profitable”
Think of entrepreneurship as a long journey. You have to take one careful step at a time. You don’t have to quit your job right away. Instead, start developing the mindset and skills necessary for you to transition from employee to entrepreneur.
Think back to when you were a customer or employee and exclaimed, “if I were the one running this business, I would…” But don’t stop there. Be prepared to make your own mistakes and learn from them. Learn from other people’s successes and failures, too – whether these people are competitors, critics, friends, subordinates, or customers.
Finally, leverage all that you have to serve your customers. If you are doing things right, your business will grow from there.
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People Also Ask
What Qualities are Essential for Success as an Entrepreneur?
Harvard Business School identified these 10 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs: curious, experimenter, adaptable, decisive, team builder, risk taker, open to failure, persistent, innovative, and long-term focus.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Successful Entrepreneur?
There’s no straight answer to this question, but a good business plan should tell you what you need to invest in terms of time and resources. This should give you a realistic idea of when to expect a return on your investment.
What Does It Take to Be a Successful Entrepreneur?
Another Harvard Business School article identifies what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur: communication skills, organizational skills, time management skills, data-driven decision-making skills, strategic thinking, basic financial and accounting literacy, and resilience make it to the list.
What Are the Challenges to Becoming an Entrepreneur?
An article from Forbes points out the 10 biggest challenges: taking the first leap, the time it takes for results to show, cash flow, fundraising, due diligence, time management, delegating, balancing perfection and progress, ego control, seeing your company fail after your exit.
Did you enjoy these tips? Read Tamika Richie’s entrepreneurial journey, where she started her own successful e-commerce business with no money at all!