What it Takes to Succeed as an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the American economy. The new businesses they build fuel the country in a number of ways, preventing stagnation and promoting growth. An entrepreneur is the person who takes risks, build businesses from the ground up, create jobs and spearhead innovation. Who are these entrepreneurs?
These days anyone can develop a company and the demographic statistics from the Kauffman Foundation back that up. In 2015, the age of new entrepreneurs was almost an even split between four different age groups, ranging from 20s and 30s to mid-60s. Despite the image of the 20-something CEO, there is actually more diversity in new entrepreneur ages represented today than there was in 1996, when 34.3% of new entrepreneurs were 20-34.
In other metrics, entrepreneurs are more likely to be male (59.4%), and more than half have had some college experience. They start businesses in all types of industries, though some of the most common business types include services (many tech companies fall into this category), restaurants and retail (online and brick and mortar). However, when you break it down, entrepreneurs come from all different backgrounds, and have the ambition to bring their idea to life.
Being an entrepreneur is an exciting journey, allowing you to fulfill your dreams and run your own business. Entrepreneurship is a difficult road, however, and not everyone is cut out for the reality of building a business. It takes a lot of discipline, hard work, and typically, a good measure of failure before the payoff begins. With the right attitude and a lot of perseverance, however, becoming an entrepreneur can be a great choice. But what does it take to succeed in this field?
Skills for Success
Every entrepreneur is different, but many people who set out to build a business need to cultivate a specific skill set in order to be successful. Here are some of the skills entrepreneurs should have to create a thriving business:
Giving up is not in an entrepreneur’s nature. Building a business is time-consuming, and it can take years to get off the ground and secure capital. Entrepreneur Adam Milstein pitched his eventual business partner David Hager for years before Hager got on board and cofounded Hager Pacific Properties, a business that now holds over $1 billion in real estate. People love to say no, and entrepreneurs need to be able to handle rejection and keep moving forward. Without a thick skin, entrepreneurs won’t make it in a tough business world.
Successful businesses require a clear vision, and a long term plan. Every aspect of starting a business requires a plan, and there’s no room for disorganization in an entrepreneur’s life. Something that seems small—such as a license or an expired patent can end up becoming a nightmare—“patent trolls” routinely put small businesses out of business through buying old patents and litigation for patent infringement. This costs American businesses $30 billion a year according to a recent report. Time management, business management, financial management, and talent management all need to be under an entrepreneur’s control for a successful startup.
Though the popular image of an entrepreneur is a charismatic, often overconfident young men, the entrepreneurs who are successful long term know that overconfidence can damage a growing business. Focusing on the business rather than personal recognition is what makes for a successful venture. Entrepreneurs also have to be willing to learn from any source they can, and should never get so confident that they feel they have nothing left to improve.
Delegation & Collaboration
As an entrepreneur, you can’t do all the work yourself—you simply don’t have enough time or all the skills needed for success. Entrepreneurs know when to delegate and collaborate, forming the right partnerships and hiring the right people to create a strong structure for their company and ensuring everything runs smoothly.
Even down the road, when entrepreneurs are thinking of switching to a new project or otherwise moving on, delegation is very important—A recent study show that 68% of nonprofits don’t have a formal succession plan for executives in place, putting the business at risk. Seventy-eight percent could not name a successor even internally, leaving leadership in limbo. While in the beginning, an entrepreneur needs to control every aspect of the business, delegation is what will allow it to grow and thrive.
Staying up to date on industry trends is very important for entrepreneurs. It’s key to be able to recognize new technology that could be helpful to your business—whether for marketing, organization, or efficiency. Open-mindedness spurs your own innovation and allows you to grow and change your business for the better.
It may seem obvious, but entrepreneurs have to work very hard to get a business going. Though later on they can delegate tasks as the business grows, many entrepreneurs dedicate the majority of their time and money to building a business, and often have to sacrifice a social life and invest much of their own money to bootstrap their idea. Some think of CEOs as lazy, but it couldn’t be further from the truth: entrepreneurs take all the risk and work on themselves, and eventually bring others in to further that vision.
An Ongoing Success: Gary Vaynerchuk
Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk show signs of independence and innovation early on. Emigrating with his parents as a child from Belarus, his first ventures included selling flowers from his neighbors’ yards (to his neighbors) and running a network of lemonade stands. From there, he looked for every opportunity he could find, growing his parents’ wine business by rebranding and launching a website for the company just after college.
In 5 years, using various online marketing tactics like AdWords and email marketing, he had grown the business from $3 million in revenue to $60 million. Using other online marketing methods, such as content marketing and a high-volume vlog, Gary was able to achieve relationships with investors and businessmen, eventually culminating in his company Vayner Media, and subsequent investments in startups. Gary’s perseverance, innovation, charisma, and openness to opportunity allowed him to be successful even during tough economic times and come full circle as an investor in new ventures.
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