I have the privilege to speak to many people every year about business and how to start one. My favorite question is about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. What’s that life like? What do I need to do?
If you’re considering an “entrepreneur” lifestyle, be sure that you have a thorough and clear understanding of its true meaning before attempting to become one. Too many people graduate from business school with the wide-eyed expectation of being a billionaire entrepreneur with no idea of what it takes, the time, effort, and mindset. It can’t be that hard.
Most have no idea what it means.
The essentials are those things that they don’t teach you at B-School. It’s a mindset. There is a reason that nearly 90% of all startups are broke within two years. Here are seven foundational attitudes that I believe you must embrace to survive and thrive as an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must; 1. SACRIFICE: You’re on your own in most cases. You have no safety net. You have no sales staff. You have no marketing team. You have no income, no 401-K, no health insurance. Sometimes you won’t have a paycheck. Sometimes you’ll have to decide if you want to make payroll or pay yourself. It’s all up to you. So how bad do you want it? 2. You MUST Have FAITH: If you don’t have an unfailing belief in yourself, then you may be very alone, and you’ve lost. You must believe in yourself, even when it feels like no one else on the planet believes in you.
2. You MUST Have FAITH: If you don’t have an unfailing belief in yourself, then you may feel very alone, and you’ve lost. You must believe in yourself, even when it feels like no one else on the planet believes in you. You must passionately believe in yourself and your vision. Bankers and spouses alike love to see your passionate vision. Investors need to see it as well, and employees model the vision. Finally, there is always that bell-weather moment in an entrepreneur’s life where you will realize that you’ve done enough planning and research, and it is now time to take a deep breath and to step out in faith. Are you ready to do that?
3. Have and Maintain a STRONG WORK ETHIC: Most successful entrepreneurs are successful entrepreneurs because they are willing to work hard and with extreme focus. They adopted the idea that the job is not done until it’s done right! If you can do it by sitting in a coffee shop and answering emails all day, then that’s ok, I suppose. But it’s usually not the case. Remember, the world does not owe you a thing. You are going to have to work for it.
4. COMMITMENT: Whatever your endeavor, you must be committed to it and be willing to do anything to achieve your vision. Anything! And that means that you must be committed to implementing and, if necessary, improving the vision. You must be willing and flexible to change and then be committed to the new and improved vision. Investors, bankers, advisors, partners, and employees will be watching to see how committed you are and how determined you remain when the going gets tough, and that can mean the difference between a long or a short business life span.
5. RISK: Being an entrepreneur is knowing and understanding that there is always a RISK. You must be mentally prepared to take on these risks and their consequences, both good and bad. So, slow down a bit, think things through. Thoroughly understand all the consequences, then move forward.
6. ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES and HAVE A THICK SKIN: You will get criticized, laughed at, and betrayed. People will lie to you and talk behind your back. And, you’ll also learn who your friends are and aren’t. If you let these things bother you, don’t become an entrepreneur. Instead, you must persevere, always with the vision and result in mind.
7. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! Whatever you do, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you must never give up. It would help if you kept your dream alive no matter what happens. Because when you do and begin to win and then perpetuate the momentum and begin to make a difference and grow the possibilities, then there is nothing like it on earth. It’s intoxicating. It’s addictive. You go from “I CAN DO THIS!” to “I DID IT!” Yes, you did! YOU DID IT, and you’ll want to do it again. I guarantee it!