By Monica Eaton-Cardone
Here’s the simple truth: becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. After all, if it were easy to launch a business, everyone would do it.
I run my own business and people frequently ask me about the best way to start a business. Here’s another truth for you: there is no miracle step-by-step process that will automatically catapult you to success. While I can’t offer an instant secret recipe for success, I can share some of the lessons I have learned.
This isn’t an exhaustive list—at the end of the day, there’s no guaranteed method to achieve success. You will need to find your own way, and everyone’s path will look different.
With that in mind, here are five lessons I’ve learned throughout my entrepreneurship journey.
1. Do what you love
As I have already mentioned, starting a business is hard. They say that 90% of startups end in failure. If that tells you anything, it’s that you need to be passionate about what you do and about the product or service you offer.
If you’re not totally sold on your own idea, how can you expect to convince other people to spend money on your product or service? It only takes customers a few minutes to figure out whether you’re just trying to earn a paycheck, or if you truly love what you’re selling. Your attitude and the way you approach work when you love what you do makes all the difference.
You need to care enough about your business so that you’ll want to spend your day talking about it, promoting it, trying to perfect it, and telling everyone you know about it. If any of that sounds exhausting, it is! That’s why it’s so important to love what you do.
2. Commit to hard work
So you have a business idea that you’re passionate and excited about—now what?
Anyone can have an idea, but true innovators have the ability to turn their dreams into reality. It’s not enough to conceptualize what you want to build. The next step is to commit to your vision and start working.
First, accept that no one is going to want this business as much as you, and thus, you have to be willing to work harder and smarter than everyone else in the room. You must also accept that when you’re starting out, there is no safety net, or even a guarantee you’ll ever make a profit. And even if you do eventually start turning a profit, the money may not be immediate. In fact, you may not start making a profit for two or three years, in most cases.
Remember that the journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be committed for the long haul and ready to put in long hours and hard work.
3. Embrace failure
Failure is to be expected in the world of entrepreneurship. I would even venture to say that you should plan for it. If recent world events have taught us anything, it’s that we need to be prepared for the unexpected and adapt our business plans when faced with hardship.
As a first-time business owner, you’re going to face hiccups and unforeseen obstacles as you navigate unfamiliar terrain. Understand that overcoming failure is part of the process. I’ve experienced many setbacks in my career, but I’ve found that it’s often those unexpected curveballs life throws your way which help you discover what you’ve been looking for all along.
Remind yourself that failure is okay. You can’t let the fear of messing up or making a mistake prevent you from taking the next step.
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4. Never stop learning
I could write a full article on this single point alone. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep learning.
Don’t think that your work is done once you have a functioning business and are turning a profit. Complacency is a major pitfall to avoid at all costs. You should always look for new ways to expand your skill set, then reinvest those skills in the business. You need to keep showing up every day and looking for opportunities to grow.
Even after you’re an established business owner, it’s important to continue to educate yourself. The wheel has been reinvented a thousand times, and it will be reinvented a thousand more. There will be innovators who come after you who will challenge the status quo and learn how to do something better.
In order to be an expert in your field, you need to keep up-to-date on the newest trends, and to always be aware of how you can make your business better. Ask yourself: How can you use your expertise to your advantage? How can you ensure that your business model is always evolving and growing?
5. Build your team carefully
The people with whom you choose to surround yourself will have a huge impact on the value of the work you produce, as well as the overall integrity of your business. It’s important to bring in people you can trust and who will always tell you the truth.
When putting together your team, try to choose people who will challenge you to be better, not just those who have all the right information listed on their resumes. Remember: you are building a brand as much as a business. Rather than focusing on a candidate’s credentials, you should think about how the person can add value to your company as a member of your team.
Of course, I also have to underscore the importance of showing your team how much you value them. The way you treat your employees matters, and you will be defined by your actions as much as your accomplishments.
At the end of the day, believe in yourself
You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you don’t take that leap of faith, you won’t go anywhere. We’ve all heard that advice before, and as cheesy as it might seem, there is truth to it.
Being an entrepreneur means working hard, taking risks, and truly believing that you’ve got something to offer that no one else does. Your new business may never work out, but if you follow these five tips, you stand a fighting chance of building something truly remarkable.
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