Did you know the word ‘entrepreneur’ was first coined by French economist Jean-Baptiste Say in about 1800? Well, this is what he had to say: “The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.” Thus, entrepreneurs are intermediaries in the production process who combine productive agents such as land, capital and labour in order to meet the demand of consumers.
So how can a person become a truly successful entrepreneur? Are there rules of successful entrepreneurship and if so, can they be learnt?
Well, your guess is as good as mine. While some believe entrepreneurs are born with the innate skills and abilities to take risks, increase yield, and create wealth, others hold the view that entrepreneurship can be learnt.
The latter is rightly so. Indeed, entrepreneurship can be learnt. Here are 15 tips on how to become a truly successful entrepreneur.
Find a problem and solve it: Entrepreneurship is built on the basis of problems. Problems give way to opportunities. Without problems, there will be no need for an entrepreneur. There are problems all around us. Problems in the environment, problems regarding our basic needs; food, clothing, shelter, problems with human beings, problems with our inner self, problems with the way we see things, etc. Once you can spot a problem, you can go in to find a solution to it. Always see opportunities where there are problems. A real opportunity consists of both a problem and a proposed solution. This is an important part of being truly successful.
Focus on something you are interested in: Once you find the problem, the next step is to find something you are interested in. Nothing takes the place of passion when the going gets tough. As with all endeavours, entrepreneurship gets really hard along the way, so you need to focus on something you are passionate about. Something that you will want to wake up in the morning to. Something that drives you. Something that even when the returns are low, you still feel fulfilled because you are satisfying a need. That is the only way to get through the entrepreneurship journey.
Have a clear vision: After deciding on the problem and where your passion lies, you need to pen down what you want to achieve. Write the vision down. Make it clear what it is you want to be noted for. Then proceed to run with it.
Know your target market: Learn a lot about your particular business or industry. Learn as much as you can about your target market. What are their ages, their preferences, their tastes, their incomes, their needs, their expenditure and how does it fit into your vision? This is all too important and knowing this can help you to draw up a business plan.
Draw up a business plan: You might not know everything from the beginning and how to go around starting that business, but soon the pieces will begin to add up. Think hard about how you can go about the business. Write down anything that comes to mind. You can revise it later based on the changing market needs.
Evaluate your opportunity cost: The cost factor certainly comes to play in the business venture. Ask yourself, what do I have to forego in order to achieve my vision? Is it staying up late to spend more time planning ahead, is it saving up some money to push the venture, is it investing in equipment just to run the business? What are you losing in order to gain? Are you forsaking pleasure to embrace the gains of entrepreneurship?
Have a fairly good understanding of money and finance: Another key to becoming a truly successful entrepreneur is to know your way around money. Every business exists for profit. Profits involve money. Having a fairly good idea of money and finance can help you to calculate your profit margin, take out production cost and to know how much to plough back into the business.
Develop a viable relationship network: This is referred to as social capital. A huge part of your business rests on your ability to find the right people to help you deliver quality products and services to customers while making profit. You will need the right people to help you identify and pursue opportunity. In particular, they should complement the entrepreneur’s own talents, experience, strengths and weaknesses.
Be committed: The right people may not always be as passionate about your business venture as you. Thus, the hallmark of a truly successful entrepreneur is commitment. Commitment will keep you in business. It will help you to manage the risks associated with the business.
Learn from the mistakes of those that have gone ahead of you: Certainly, there is someone somewhere who is in the same business as you and has faced several challenges while climbing up the entrepreneurship ladder. Get to know other entrepreneurs, whether you read about them or meet in person, and learn their success stories. Learn the ropes from your mentors. Studying their example and outcomes will put you ahead of your business.
Balance your passion and credibility: Another way of becoming a truly successful entrepreneur is to balance your passion and credibility. Don’t pitch a product or service to a customer simply because you sell it. Understand what the customer needs and make a good proposition. Don’t sell out your good name in exchange for profits. Sell yourself as someone who thinks about value, innovation and leadership.
Always reinvent the wheel: Think of new ways of expanding the business. Always create new innovations in response to changing market needs. When you can’t move forward with the vision, move on with an invention.
Communicate well: Effective communication is an attribute of a truly successful entrepreneur. Since the entrepreneur will be working with people either directly or indirectly, you will need to communicate well to the right people. This will ensure that they operate within the stipulated guidelines for the business venture in order to maximize productivity.
Give incentives and rewards: Another important part of truly successful entrepreneurs is that they reward their customers and their workforce. Successful entrepreneurs appreciate the value of every penny gained for their products or services, and give incentives to their workforce and reward their clients’ loyalty.
Leave a legacy: A truly successful entrepreneur leaves a legacy for the business. When an entrepreneur empowers his or her workforce so much that the company can run even when the entrepreneur has travelled or in worse case scenario, died, the business thrives and generations can benefit from the business venture.