An entrepreneur is someone who starts, organizes or manages a business and takes on financial risk to invest in their idea. However, an entrepreneur is so much more. An entrepreneur:
- can work from 8 to 5 on weekdays, but often works weekends, nights, and while on vacation.
- takes on the responsibility of getting everything organized and running. When business stops, it is your responsibility to find and mend the broken link.
- is constantly looking at ways to improve the success of their business
- needs to be highly organized, good at making lists and prioritizing, needs to learn to delegate, and needs to feel comfortable hiring and firing personnel.
- needs the support from friends, family, and or/community during the start up or hard times.
- needs to learn how to balance work an life, while assigning times for both despite distractions.
- needs to be familiar with a computer, know how to use a database and mailing list, use spreadsheets, have a word processing program, and learn to do internet research.
- needs to have financial resources or the means to get started, whether through personal investment or through funding sources. If personal, does it risk all of your assets and leverage your home or only a small percentage of liquid assets?
- needs to have a office space, either in commercial or industrial space, or a spot in the home with either a door or a separator (and can your family or roommate learn not to bother you when you are in that space?)
- needs to be self motivated to find leads and go after the sale
- needs to be okay removing ego, ask for help when needed, and know when to call it quits.
Do you have these attributes or can you learn to adopt them?
Understanding What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur
Start up businesses require all of these attributes where businesses who have been open for many years may allow you to depend on other select people in select positions.
Watch your friends who are employees. Every week they know when they will be working and exactly how much they can depend on receiving for their services. In a new start up business, an entrepreneur can make an educated guess about what they may make that week or month, but it is never definite. You may get that call you are waiting for on a Saturday morning or may be $3K short this month, requiring extra attention. Can you stomach that roller coaster?
Facing Your Fears
In reviewing what it takes to get started, do you notice any fears arising? What are they? Make a list of these fears and examine how relevant and valid they are?
Look at each fear and work through it. Is the fear something that is based on something that you can easily work through or is does it raise the hair on the back of your neck and bring on a stress headache? If the fear is debilitating, get some professional help to work through it. If you ignore it, it will most likely surface again and again later in your business. It’s best to learn how to deal with it in the beginning.
Once you have gone through these exercises and all signs point to moving forward, you embark on your real journey. Your next steps are exciting, maybe scary, and somewhat overwhelming at the same time.
Up, Up and Away: Taking the Leap
Now you have a firm business idea, but what to do first?
Accept you will be Challenged
First, breathe and accept that this will be one of the toughest and most trying periods in your life. You will be doing both your normal routine AND heaps more work in the same amount of time. Do not make other engagements, such as agree to host a bridal shower. Do not chose to launch your business prior to a move, birth of a child, or a wedding. Notify your friends and family that you will be stressed and that you will need help. Communicate to any employees or subcontractors when they can expect to hear from you. You will need days to breathe and days for yourself. You will have to fight the “shoulds” and carve out some time for yourself and your family and/or friends each week, if not each day. You are not a machine, even though your mind may work like one. You will need to turn off your phone and your computer. You will do better if you take breaks because you will refill your well of inspiration and reenergize.
“I used to get so into my work that I would lean into my computer, breathe shallowly and quick, and work so fast that I wouldn’t even notice the hours moving by. I would only stop when I needed to use the bathroom and would then rush back to work. I eventually gave myself daily headaches and other ergonomically-challenged and stress-induced problems.
After paying for endless massages, acupuncture and chiropractic appointments trying to correct my aches and pains, I finally realized I could make positive changes in my body by altering my patterns. But I didn’t know what to do. Additionally, it was really hard for me to justify taking a break.
My husband then mentioned to me how happy I look after every hike, bike or run and suggested I take a 30 minute break to go exercise. I fought him at first, but after I exercised a few times during the day, I was amazed at how much more productive I was when I returned and how much better I felt. (This is a documented time of when he was 100% right :).” – Sara Zimmerman, Entrepreneur Bee
If you don’t work with your spouse or want to hear him/her make suggestions, stay motivated to set alarms on your computer, your phone or get an egg timer. This will allow you to work hard without having to pay partial attention to when your break or next appointment is scheduled.
Make Some Space
If you have the resources to rent an office space in a commercial setting right away, spend some time arranging it in the most productive way possible. If you are working on your funding sources or will be working from home, carve out a space where you can have a door or a separator of some sort. You need to be able to make a visual boundary between you and your work, as well as your work from your family or roommates. Working in the living room confuses people- they assume you are available for discussions and you will soon find yourself working when it is time to sit down for dinner.
How to Be an Entrepreneur