Having a great idea or even an entrepreneurial itch will not guarantee the success of a start up and if you are weighing up the option of setting up your own business and listing the pros and cons, there are a few basic traits required to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Though a good dollop of pragmatism is required in the establishment of a new venture, I don’t think there are any entrepreneurs void of a certain idealism and a strong belief that there is a better way to do something. Unless you are idealistic enough to risk trying something entirely new, you will never even enter the process of starting a business.
Strong Vision to Fulfil a Need
Entrepreneurs have an idea and a vision, but merely coming up with a great new concept is not enough. Your vision must be underpinned by an existing need for a product or service. The best idea will only work if you can be confident that your new product or service is required in this world and not just by a handful of people. The creation of a product or service and the sale thereof must obviously carry an earning potential, so before you set off on your entrepreneurial journey, you must ask yourself a simple set of questions:
- Will people need and be willing to pay for my service or product?
- Can I provide a product or service that is better than what is already on the market?
- Is the establishment of this service or manufacture of this new product and sale thereof financially viable?
- Is there a market for my product or service?
By ascertaining the above, you will road-test your idea somewhat and this will ensure that you do not enter the process thoughtlessly.
Only if you are highly motivated to journey through the entire process and spend long hours planning, plotting and working, will you succeed and many prefer the comfort of being employed and paid by someone else. Starting a business can be an uncertain, uncomfortable process and your drive and motivation must be strong enough to withstand and endure any related possible hardship. Motivation is also required when, as many self-starters will testify, doors are shut in your face initially and when you are required to soldier on fuelled only by the belief in your ideas.
Time and Energy
Starting a business will ravish your time and energy and by assessing your lifestyle and time management you will get an idea of whether you have the time and energy required at your disposal. Long hours, weekend work, limited amount of time off, less time for rest and relaxation and a limited amount of time and energy for family and friends are all to be expected in the course of setting up a business. Unless you are willing and able to invest a lot of time and a lot of energy, starting a business is not for you.
Work Ethic and Discipline
When you start your own business, nobody tells you what to do, nobody looks over your shoulder and nobody makes sure that you are doing the right thing at the right time. While this may seem like a glorious prospect at first glance, it also highlights the need for entrepreneurs to be highly focused and organized and have an excellent work ethic. Organizational skills are also extremely important and without discipline you will be sure to fail miserably in your endeavours.
Money and the Ability to Endure Financial Uncertainty
For the vast majority of entrepreneurs, starting up a business carries a financial risk and unless you have an unlimited amount of money at your disposal, so will yours. You will invest your time and your money and you will ask banks and investors to trust you with their cash. This can only mean one thing: pressure to succeed. Can you handle such pressure?
Additionally, a new business will not provide you with a regular, comfortable income from the off and you need to be willing and able to live with a degree of financial uncertainty.
Endurance in the Face of Adversity
Any entrepreneur will tell you that they have experienced failure to a greater or lesser degree and the question you need to ask yourself is as to whether you would possess the tenacity and endurance to carry on regardless, to learn from mistakes but not to give up even when things get tough. I recently listened to an interview with James Dyson and was astonished to hear that it took over 5000 prototypes before they finally came up with what is now known as one of the best vacuum cleaners ever made. Would you be able to display such stubborn endurance?
Ask yourself the above questions and you will be in a much better position to determine whether you’ve got what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
Of course, there are people like me who are more than willing and able to help you along the way!