By Lindy Earl
The idea of having your own successful company, not reporting to a boss other than your clients, and being able to keep or invest your profits, is extremely tantalizing. Of course, it takes hard work, discipline, hard work, a high level of risk tolerance, some luck, and more hard work to be successful.
So, who should be an entrepreneur? There are tests you can take to see if you have the characteristics to fit the general profile. I can share some of these: You need to have a large amount of self-discipline. If you want to be your own boss so that you don’t have to get to work on time, that’s the wrong reason to be an entrepreneur. In fact, we’ve overwhelmingly found that the small business owner is the first one at work in the morning, and the last one to leave at the end of the day. In fact, they are never not at work, as their work follows them home, often into their dreams. You therefore need to be willing to always be at work.
More than anything else, every entrepreneur is a sales rep. You need to sell your services and products, and in so doing, sell yourself. You can say you’re a singer, make shoes, or import china, but until you have clients lined up to purchase, you are a salesman.
Further, you need to crave autonomy. It’s not enough to not want to be micro-managed. You need to require working alone with no help or support from above or below.
It helps greatly if you are motivated by money. I know what Herzberg’s theories say, but money does motivate some people. There is, eventually, money to be had, but you need to be able to live without it in the beginning.
You also need to be able to live without sleep. There are times that you have to keep going, like that energizer bunny, when you’re way past your breaking point. The work has to get done. I’ve tried to help small business people who tell me that they just can’t take on another client, when I know they can. Or at least, I could if I were in their situation. Yes, it would mean longer nights and no lunches, but that’s something I would gladly sacrifice for my company. I would sacrifice that even when I was working for others. But to be told that they just don’t have the time, when they’re sleeping eight hour nights and going out on weekends (facebook provides great information), lets me know the person doesn’t have a true entrepreneurial spirit.
I have a great story on getting some carpet laid one day. I called two gents. The first one sounded like I had woken him, and his first comment was, “Aw, it’s raining.” Now, I wanted the carpet laid inside the house, so I didn’t see how the rain affected that. The second gent told me he could be there from noon to one o’clock and that he would work quickly and be gone, because when he had a chance to have a new client, he was going to make it work. Of course he’s the one I hired. The man arrived exactly when he said, he threw the carpet over his shoulder, and he literally ran up the stairs. He worked liked crazy for an hour, accepted his pay, and was off to his next job. I couldn’t recommend him highly enough, and I’m sure he’s a very successful entrepreneur today.
Now, there are challenges to entrepreneurship that need to be addressed. First, it is risky. If your company folds, for whatever reason, you’re responsible. Second, it’s hard work to run your own company. You’re the sales rep, the ops manager, the accountant, and the janitor. Further, there are no paid vacation or sick days, and you pay for your own benefits. It is extremely stressful at the best of times and it’s really, really hard work to create a business from nothing.
In today’s world, because of the internet and how small the world is getting, you can create your own business literally anywhere in the world. You can sit on a beach and sell ski equipment in Canada. So while you should consider the economy, inflation rates, and other economic indicators, you can start your business wherever you want. You might want to consider personal preferences and your family.
One other thing that every entrepreneur needs to know is that knowledge is power. The more you know, and the more you know you know, the better off you are. How you gain and use knowledge is up to you, but people whose companies have failed often share comments like, “If only I had known.” You don’t want to be one of those people. Learn everything you can before you even begin, and then keep learning.
So, allowing for legalities, in some cases opening your own business is as simple as hanging your shingle. You will have to keep your books and let your state know, especially if you plan to incorporate, which is a wise decision to protect your personal assets.
But, if it’s important to you to be your own boss and have great independence, them entrepreneurship is for you. But no matter what you do, you need to understand, you are a salesman first.
Lindy is a Consultant, Speaker, and Author. Please contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com.