“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary!” - Steve Jobs
Having started, run and lead various companies as entrepreneur since I was 15 years old, I have learned many things about being an entrepreneur; often via the hard way.... Some of my own business ventures were very successful, some unsuccessful, and one even resulted in my personal bankruptcy (at the age of 21), however all of them made me very rich and happy! They made me rich and happy in enriched knowledge and experience; my failures and success allowed me to learn more, build new valuable relationships, get new ideas, get more insights & inspiration and apply my lessons learned to become more successful!
A lot has been said, written and published about the key qualities of successful entrepreneurs: e.g. passion, creativity, leadership, vision, self-confidence, focus on detail, bravery, relationship building, innovation, organization skills, communication and coordination skills. Based on my own experience I would like to share and highlight some other key qualities and insights that will help an entrepreneur to succeed. Just ask yourself the following questions…
- What is your personal mission statement in life?
As Stephen Covey wrote in his popular book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, the second habit he talks about is “Begin with the End In Mind”. He recommends formulating a “personal vision statement” to document one’s perception of one’s own vision in life.
What do you want to accomplish in your life? One effective way to write your personal mission statement is to visualize the day when you die. What do you want your loved ones and friends to say and remember about you? Another approach is to write your own obituary.
Without a clear personal mission statement, you will quickly lose focus and direction in your business. Without a personal mission statement, you won’t be able to find a passion or desire for success.
As one of my fellow coaches and friend Denis likes to state: "There are two important days in your life: the day you were born and the day you knew why!" So what do you want your life to be about? What's your mission and what's the big picture?
- Are you self-motivated? Perhaps one of the most crucial qualities for people who are self-employed to succeed. Without self-motivation, you will always find yourself putting things off. You won’t be able to accomplish anything as there is no one there to motivate you or watch over your shoulder when you’re your own boss. So if you are not a self-motivated kind of person, working for yourself or being an entrepreneur is definitely a risky business for you. You can mitigate this risk: get a business partner, get a coach & mentor or ask a close friend to help and stimulate to motivate yourself! If you think you are not self-motivated enough, make it part of your self-development plan: coach yourself to improve in self-motivation! Success guaranteed!
- Are you persistent? Understand that there is no “instant gratification” when you’re running your own business. You won’t get a paycheck every month like you do in a 9 to 5 job. Initially, you may need to work very hard for little rewards.
If you’re not persistent or don’t fully believe in yourself and in your business, you will have find yourself given up very quickly. Of course, it is possible to earn good money by running your own business, but you need to remember that it will take hard work, time and persistence to achieve true success and happiness! Like Sir Winston Churchill said: "Never, Never, Never Ever Give Up!" So whenever you fail or make a mistake; take the lessons learned and get back on your feet to apply these lessons learned and use your enriched experience to succeed faster and better!
- Are you financially responsible? A very important quality for all business owners. When you’re your own boss, you’re a CEO, accountant and finance manager. You’re fully responsible for managing and controlling your business budget. When you start making profits, you will need to know how to manage it wisely. Often times, you will want to put a portion of your profit back into your business to help it grow and expand further. Or you want to build up a solid cash position to finance a possible acquisition. Successful entrepreneurs actively manage their P&L (Profit & Loss) balance sheet, especially their cash position! They focus on two things to improve their financial performance:
- Increasing their profits. This is only possible through either: Increasing revenue, or Cutting costs and cost avoidance.
- Growing their business. This is only possible through the following 4 methods: Increasing acquisition of the right type of clients (through organic growth or M&A) Increasing margins Increasing the frequency of purchase of your clients Reducing the attrition of the right types of clients.
- Are you hungry for success? If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to think and behave like one! You have to think and act as a leader, as a CEO and as a warrior! Understand that business is not the same as hobby where you can take it lightly. If you treat your business like a hobby, you will never be able to achieve true success. A business needs to be worked at seriously and professionally, you can’t allow personal things to get into your business. Remember what the headline in Donald Trump’s Apprentice TV-show says? “It’s Not Personal - It’s Just Business!”.
- What is your exit strategy? As successful entrepreneur you will need to lead your business from start to finish. So where do you draw the finish line? When and how do you want to exit your company? Do you want to sell it? If so, when and to whom? Do you want to list your company? If so, when and at which stock exchange(s)? Do you want to merge it? If so, with which company? Do you want to hand it over to your children? If so, by when and to which one(s)? For what price and under which conditions will you hand your baby over to someone else? What's behind the finish line? Imagine you have set your exit strategy and then... you've successfully executed your strategy: you've exited your company! Then what? What's next? As part of your exit strategy I advise you to dream/imagine/decide what you want to do with the successful experience and reward(s) of growing and selling your own company. It will drive, inspire and motivate you to create your follow-up plan! Make it part of your bigger picture!
Patrick W. Driessen Patrick W. Driessen