Some entrepreneurs may be in for a buzzkill. Today, entrepreneurship is hot and many young professionals are rapidly creating businesses with high hopes of quickly cashing out. It’s time to face a hard truth: simply establishing a business doesn’t make a successful entrepreneur. The definition of entrepreneurship includes managing the enterprise; creating a business is just a part of it, the beginning. Filing paperwork and finding capital is not synonymous with success. Break away from the current trend and build something that matters. Roll up your sleeves, put in the work, and truly own your business.
Create, Sell, Repeat. This predominantly-featured formula for modern entrepreneurship suggests a system similar to the following:
- Found an LLC, DBA, or other entity
- Court investors and raise capital
- Pay others to achieve your idea
- Sell the business as soon as possible
There are many ways to describe this system but at the end of the day, it’s founded on principles of laziness, and limited by a lack of vision. Starting a business is the easy part. It’s sticking with a business through thick and thin, helping it grow and succeed that separates the true entrepreneurs from the charlatan’s. Real entrepreneurs are devoted to their businesses.
Ideas are born every second. Data can be compiled, spun, and pitched in a manner convincing enough to achieve funding. As with most situations in life, the easy route may not prove to be the best. Investors are out there, but are you sure you want to bring them on board? Stories of founders getting the boot from their investors are all-too-common. Hand out enough slices of the pie and there won’t be much left for yourself. Atop that, investors will remain hungry for more, perhaps forcing changes in the company you never planned for. Rather than chase capital around and risk losing control, get to work and start producing.
Life today is fast-paced, and the professional world is no different. Many entrepreneurs lack the patience required yet strong businesses require mountains of effort, and even more time. Rather than phone it in, be a real entrepreneur and help your business succeed. There’s a growing number of business owners uninterested in cashing out. These hardworking entrepreneurs do more than create businesses, they contribute something to the marketplace and to their community. Create a firm foundation for the enterprise by establishing a winning product or service, creating a cohesive team, and developing a brand culture.
Establish Your Product or Service
It’s a disappointing trend these days. A number of businesses popping up today don’t actually produce anything. There’s a concept pitched to a room full of money, investments are procured, and thus the relentless pursuit of ongoing capital begins. Over time, the enterprise may attract a number of investors, but it may also be responsible for millions in expenses – many ongoing – with absolutely nothing to show for it. Compiling enough data to convince a room of investors to write checks is one thing. Developing a concept into a functional reality is another task completely and requires embracing the true meaning of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs ‘in it’ for the long-haul can agree: specialization is paramount when developing a product or service. Rather than be a jack of all trades, master yours. Businesses and owner personalities vary, but in most cases, the following steps can help get things moving along:
- Define your niche. What is it you intend to create?
- Define your customer. Who is it you’re trying to reach?
- Define solutions. Create solutions for connecting the product with your customer base.
- Do the work. Put in the work to create and refine your product or service, and the method for distribution. Listen to and respond to feedback. Be willing to adjust your strategies if your target market calls for it.
Raising a business from a concept into a successful commercial enterprise requires a lot from the owner. Oftentimes, it also requires a little help from others.
Build a Strong Team
It takes a village. Raising a business into something to be proud of often demands other people dedicated, in some fashion, to help it succeed. Businesses are unique. Each enterprise will have its own demands, resources, and reach. For some entrepreneurs, filling needs means hiring the right people for the right positions. A phrase that may be of service when adding employees is, “hire slow, fire fast”. Invest the time to find the right people for the job and when it’s time to let someone go, don’t hesitate to act.
Businesses without employees can also create teams, just of a different sort. For owner-operators and other solo-entrepreneurs, the right freelancers can boost your productivity, reach, and much more. Design, bookkeeping, customer management and more can be outsourced to the right professionals. Just like with hiring an employee, take the time to find the right freelancers before dedicating time and resources to their development. In many cases, these relationships may be purely digital. Get to know your freelancers; help them understand their roles in your organization. Include them in the successes (and the less-desirable outcomes) of projects they’ve contributed to. This can help build a sense of community and value for otherwise disconnected team members.
Develop a Brand
Building a successful enterprise often includes developing a unique business identity. A brand helps separate a business from its competition on multiple levels. It helps connect with the consumer and can be instrumental in creating a loyal customer base. It’s an image, a personality. Branding exists in more areas than many realize. Language styles, color combinations, logos and much more are all part of developing a brand.
You’ve already defined your customer base, and they have expectations for your company. This can help when finding the right corporate personality for giving voice to your brand. Think about the image you wish to project to your customers and the public. A brand personality can give your business life with a voice and image all its own. Other considerations when developing a brand include maintaining consistency in branding across mediums and keeping promises made to consumers. Like people, businesses can establish reputations. Make sure yours is a good one.
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs lose focus when money becomes an issue, turning to outside investments as solutions for money woes. Throwing cash at a problem will seldom fix it and may actually achieve the opposite. After a while, many are surprised to find the same problems still exist, yet now come with a larger price tag attached. Finding money is an easy attempt at solving complex problems. Rather than treating the symptoms of a troubled business, find and treat the cause instead. Get in the trenches, get to work, and devise a solution for getting your business back on track without outside investment.
While navigating the obstacles of entrepreneurship, beware of shiny objects. There’s a whole industry out there dedicated to buying businesses from the easily-tempted. A payout now may seem attractive but take a moment to remember why you got into entrepreneurship in the first place. If they are so eager to buy your business, it may be something worth hanging on to. Creating a business and raising it into maturity is the true demonstration of a successful entrepreneur. Do you have what it takes?
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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.