First off, personal update, because heck… I rarely do them. Today I signed a whopping 6 month lease (commitment hives are setting in!) for an apartment in San Francisco. I also officially signed a one month contract at a coworking space in SoMa.
So I am “officially” abiding in the beautiful city by the bay and I won’t be jetting around for a while as I work doggedly to make my startup great. If you read this blog, follow me on Twitter or just like cocktails give me a shout next time your in the city & we’ll get a Moscow mule together!
Now to the brass tax… lately a lot of people have asked me if I think they have what it takes to become an entrepreneur and/or should they start a business (more or less the same thing). I’ve been responding to these emails individually but to save time and sanity I decided to write a post on what in my opinion it takes to be a successful startup entrepreneur (note: my opinion).
First things first…
What exactly is an entrepreneur?
One of the definitions of entrepreneur from the online Dictionary states an entrepreneur is:
a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
When you read that I’d like you to note the “considerable initiative” and “risk” parts. To become a successful entrepreneur behind a scalable business model you really must be incredibly motivated and have a serious stomach for risk.
I can’t stand when people ask me questions like “what’s an easy business for me to start” or “how can I become an entrepreneur but not risk anything”. Usually they don’t address these questions directly and instead hem & haw but I know what they’re getting at – they want to have success but they also want to have security and travel easy street to get there.
This is one reason I got out of the “internet marketing” / “blogging business” arena a while back – that and I honestly wasn’t good at it – most likely because of the fact that I didn’t care and it didn’t seem scalable in the big picture.
Another critical part of starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur is the often overlooked aspect of…
having a good idea
Far be it from me to be critical but you can’t be a successful entrepreneur without a market valuable idea (whether this is the snuggy or wind powered energy fan) and having a good idea isn’t a simple or linear process.
If you have these three things: considerable initiative, a stomach for risk and at least a halfway decent idea (or the zeal to find a halfway decent idea) you probably can safely set out along the road to entrepreneurship.
To quit or not to quit?
Next question. People are always curious whether or not they should quit their job cold turkey the moment they decide they want to become an entrepreneur – or if they should bide their time and work on both concurrently.
My advice used to be “through caution to the wind, quit your job, burn your boats” and it still is in many cases – BUT – if you have a family to support, if you have very real needs to meet it would be fool hearty to quit your job right off the bat before you have a solid idea of what business your building and when you’ll reach at least ramen profitability.
Instead, buckle down, work nights on your startup and work days at your “9 to 5” – it’s not easy, it’s not ideal but that’s the startup life in general so if you hate it now it’s probably a good sign that this isn’t the road meant for you.
Do you want to change the world or just make money?
I never thought I’d say this – but there are easier ways to make money than becoming an entrepreneur.
There aren’t easier ways to make a potential windfall – but if just a comfortable living (say $100k) is your idea of paradise you can probably start a small lifestyle business (maybe even internet marketing – though it’s getting trickier to succeed without being scammy) or eventually land a good 9 to 5 and be happy making good money and living by the rules.
On the other hand, if you have a burning desire to 1) change the world 2) create, invent or produce 3) take a shot at building a lot of wealth in a short time (if you succeed) then entrepreneurship may be for you.
You’ve got to love the game – and it is a game – if you’re just about money and don’t care how you get it, play the lottery. But if you love the lifestyle, love the ups and downs and love the idea of creating something out of nothing then you’re probably an entrepreneur at heart.
Are you an entrepreneur at heart? Have you made the leap & began the process of building your own business or are you still sitting in the wings? If so, why?