If the entrepreneurial greats in Rockefeller, Ford, et al of the 19th and 20th centuries saw the opportunities available now, their jaws would literally drop.
Entrepreneurship is now much more accessible than it’s ever been. In addition, the opportunities are almost limitless with brand new tech-related industries, business ideas, and investment opportunities cropping up each year.
However, while entrepreneurship is attractive, it takes hard work like anything else. For many, it’s the hardest you’ll ever work in your life. But, more than that, the entrepreneurial journey is quite different from the average nine-to-five lifestyle, so there’s a lot to look out for that can easily catch you off-guard when setting out on your own.
6 Things You Need to Know If You Want to Be an Entrepreneur
To any entrepreneur: if you want to do it, do it now. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it.
– Catherine Cook, co-founder of MyYearbook
Since beginning my own entrepreneurial journey less than a decade ago, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to not only work for yourself but also what it means to be a true entrepreneur– someone that can read between the lines to find undiscovered opportunities and solutions to problems.
Having said that, there are six lessons I’ve learned along the way that I wish I had known before I started my journey. In writing this, I hope I can impart some of those lessons to you to help you along your own journey.
1. It’s a better time than ever (but it won’t last forever)
It’s truly a better time than ever to become an entrepreneur and build a business around something you love. However, this golden age won’t last forever. If you have an idea, you need to jump on it now.
You never know when the economy can hit a snag and the next opportunity then becomes five-plus years away, while you’re left either struggling or waiting for things to pick back up (or both). Take action now and use the current digital boom to catapult yourself to a successful and stable business before that opportunity becomes far less likely.
2. You need to pursue something you love (it takes energy)
Energy, a pure-burning motivation, is absolutely required if you want to make it as an entrepreneur. Without this energy, you’ll never make it. Period.
This might sound a bit cut-throat, but I’m just telling you how it is. I rather you know now than jump in and realize it later. But why is it this way? One reason: because things won’t always be so smooth.
Things will likely start off smoothly, with you having limitless energy to devote to your entrepreneurial project. However, over time, this energy can start to fade if you haven’t picked something you truly love and have a passion for. But that’s not the big danger.
It’s inevitable that you’ll run into a snag along the way, and when this happens, if you don’t truly love and have a passion for what you do, this will likely be the spark that compels you to quit on your dream as so many budding entrepreneurs have done in the past. You need to absolutely love what you do to push through the tough times. But if you can find something you love worth pursuing and do that, the rewards are incredible.
3. Entrepreneurship is 24/7
Entrepreneurship can allow you to design the perfect lifestyle based on how you’d like to live your life, particularly if you get into the game of building a following and selling digital products or services of some kind online.
However, it’s important to understand that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to eat, sleep, and breathe what your business is about. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you need to work weekends. However, it does mean you need to obsess over what your business is about and, well…probably work weekends (at least in the beginning).
That’s not a prison sentence or anything, though, because as we talked about in the last point, you need to pursue something that you love to do. And if you do truly love it, you’ll love nothing more than to absorb yourself in it 24/7. This is the second primary reason you really need to love at least some key aspect of what you’re doing.
4. Your ideas aren’t worth much (but execution is, sweat equity)
I’ve got a bit of truth for you that might hurt. Ready for it? Okay…
Your ideas are worth nothing. Your execution of those ideas is gold.
The truth is, everyone has great ideas. The real difference is in a person’s execution of said idea (or not). Most people have at least a few really great ideas throughout the course of their lifetime, they just never do anything about it.
Are you going to work harder than the next guy or gal? Are you going to jump on that great idea you just had or let it sit for the next two years while someone else makes it into a multi-million dollar business? If you understand this one point before setting out on your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
5. Entrepreneurship requires a long-term vision (it’s all about that next step)
Entrepreneurs are rarely doing something just to do it. What I mean by that is, typically, one business venture is intended to lead into another which then grows to become an asset that helps build the next venture. It’s like a huge staircase you’re building over the course of a decade (or much longer, depending on the scope of your goals).
This compelling, long-term vision motivates you to keep going no matter what. Without this, if you accomplish your first set of goals and have nothing set up to move on to beyond that, you’ll notice your ambition will start to fade. Even your motivation to get up and do your everyday work will start to wane and you’ll gradually be pushed closer to giving up altogether.
Life is constantly moving, and so we always need something ahead of us to look forward to in order to push ourselves forward. It’s this positive energy of possibility that compels us to action. And don’t worry if you don’t have this yet, you can always take time to create this vision or expand your pre-existing one.
This point is also important for another reason…
6. Stay focused on assets
Because entrepreneurship is a long-term vision (ideally, if you want to make your maximum contribution as a human being), and a long-term vision such as this can be very difficult to accomplish, to help you focus it’s important to stay focused on the collection of assets such as new skills, connections, experience for your portfolio or resume, and of course– money.
Ultimately, it’s this building up of assets that will allow you to move on to bigger and better things down the road with one collection of assets launching you into the next venture and so on. As time goes on you amass more and larger assets and this helps you launch larger businesses and other ventures than you could have ever done before on your own.
Becoming an entrepreneur has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The challenges have made me stronger and the lifestyle I’ve been able to design for myself wouldn’t have been possible virtually any other way. But it’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today and I have a long way to go.
If the entrepreneurial path calls to you, take these lessons and use them to your advantage to carve a path uniquely your own. Now is a better time than ever (literally).