Successful entrepreneurs know business.
Just read what this entrepreneur has to say…
“Watch, listen, and learn. You can’t know it all yourself. Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity.” —Donald Trump
Whether you agree with Trump’s political opinions, you have to admit he has a proven track record of launching, running, and growing successful businesses. And while hands-on experience is invaluable, you can learn a lot from those that have paved the path to success.
Here are 8 key take-aways that successful entrepreneurs have learned over the course of their lives.
1. Failure Is Inevitable… And Necessary
Failure, is by definition, lack of success. We all know failure is by no means fun, but it should be expected, especially in your early years of entrepreneurship. If you’re attempting something truly ambitious then you’re guaranteed to face your share of obstacles. You shouldn’t just be ready for those obstacles, you should treat them as constructive.
Every hurdle strengthens your character and builds your resolve; most successful entrepreneurs will agree with this statement, if not every single one of them. By not shying away from the hurdles you face, you will develop professional callouses that allow you to get a stronger grip on your industry and what you are capable of. It paves the road for your success.
2. The Product/Service Is Everything… Until You Go To Market
Unless you’re starting from a position of power, you absolutely need to make something worth buying if you want it to sell. Word of mouth is a crucial component of sales, and nobody’s going to share something they don’t like with others except to disparage it.
However, just having a solid product or service does not beget success. Once you’ve created something that you’re proud of, you need to put serious effort into marketing so that you can gather yourf first round of customers who will help spread the word.
Don’t assume that if you make it, they will come. That’s a myth. Every day a company with a great product or service goes out of business, all because they didn’t know how to get the word out.
Don’t make that fatal misstep. Similar to how you have to make success find you, you have to put in the leg work to promote whatever you’re offering.
Great marketing can sell something terrible; it happens all the time. Don’t you remember the snuggie and the shake weight? Think about the potential good marketing has on your business if you’ve made something great.
3. Big Decisions Can Be Tough… But They Should Ultimately Make Things Easier
Making a big decision such as laying someone off can be one of the most difficult things you’ll have to do as an entrepreneur and manager. Doing so, though, will either improve your company’s output or open up funds to try something new.
“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome’. You must be willing to fire.” —T. Boone Pickens, American Financier
Successful entrepreneurs are exceptional leaders, and as you can see exceptional leaders must be willing to make tough decisions and to make them quickly. A hard decision is usually one that has a lot on the line, so by making it you suddenly unlock doors for you and your company. The longer you wait to turn the key, the longer you’re standing still. When you know what needs to be done, do it fast.
4. Plans Don’t Stick… But You Should Still Have Them
Best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray, as the poem goes. The tendency for things to change is even more common amongst entrepreneurs.
You never know what to expect, and are forced to constantly shift course depending on which way the wind starts blowing. But that lack of certainty over your future in no way means that you should stop making those plans.
Being a business owner is much like being an author, as you’re writing your own destiny. It’s common knowledge amongst writers that you need to have a prepared outline describing what’s going to happen in your story. It might shift or even veer almost entirely off-course as you write it, but by having a template you will always understand the tale you’re telling.
By that same token, successful entrepreneurs benefit from having detailed plans. Even if almost everything changes they will have that mission statement that will keep them on course no matter how strong the wind blows.
5. Luck Is Earned… But Not Proportionally
It’s true that you earn your own luck. Very few people end up successful entrepreneurs solely thanks to good fortune. Most did something, if not quite a lot, to get themselves in that position.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re due for good luck if you haven’t gotten it yet. So, if you haven’t, no need to fear. Most of the time, people who aren’t relying on luck and are working diligently rise faster than those who do. In order to be a part of the elite group of successful entrepreneurs, that’s just something you have to accept!
The mindset you have to have is to never feel like anything is owed to you. Part of that plan mentioned earlier should involve preparing for setbacks.
You can’t succeed in something as ambitious as a startup without at least some good luck, but patience is key. Stay motivated and be sure to give yourself a chance to earn it.
6. You May Love Something… But It Might Not Be What You’re Best At
Plenty of people love playing basketball, but just think about the tiny fraction who turn that passion into a career in the NBA.
The stats may not be as dismal in your dream field, but if it’s a desired industry for a lot of other people, they’re still probably not extremely optimistic. Just because something is your first love doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll find the most success doing it. On the contrary, sometimes you’ll be blinded and make decisions out of passion instead of pragmatism.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t love what you do. You absolutely should. But you can learn to love different things.
You might be good at drawing, but the chances of making it as a fine artist are incredibly slim. Instead you can pursue work in advertising, animation or something of that ilk. That’s a case where your skills can be used for other careers.
If your skills aren’t adaptable then you need to, naturally, develop new skills. Find legitimate sources of work and use affordable tools like Lynda.com or simple the world wide web to become good enough to get a job in a field that inspires you, even if it’s not your first choice.
7. Wealth Is Advantageous… But You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Get Rich
You might prefer to build a business that requires an enormous amount of capital to get started. However, if you don’t have access to those kinds of funds, there are plenty of other options.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau is a book about successful entrepreneurs and companies that began with an investment of a hundred bucks or less. The industries that required such a small startup cost were incredibly diverse. The book perfectly proves what you can accomplish with a little cash and a lot of creativity.
Granted, if you’re stubborn about only building a certain type of company you might need more than a c-note. But, if you’re willing to be flexible, options will open up to you.
As discussed, your field of choice might not even be what you’re best at. So find something that you’re good at that you can enjoy and build a business out of what you can actually afford.
If that doesn’t satisfy you, remember that it can still just be a starting point. Maybe someday you’ll be successful enough to try something that requires a bigger investment. Or, at least as likely, you’ll realize how comfortable you’ve gotten with where you’ve ended up.
8. You Might Have To Slow Down… But You Never Have To Give Up
Debts, a spouse, a family.. responsibilities might prohibit you from full-out pursuing entrepreneurship. But that doesn’t mean you need to stop completely.
Free time feels nonexistent. It is certainly fleeting, but you can almost always find more if you manage your time well. 40 or even 60 hours on the clock doesn’t excuse you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams on the side.
If you can’t start a whole new business then prepare for when you can. No business is ever sufficiently mapped out, so spend the time before launch getting as close to that gold standard as possible.