Daydreaming at your day-to-day job? Thinking of becoming a dynamic entrepreneur? Don’t lose the dream but there are some practical realities to consider before you “jump ship”. Run a parallel path: Successful entrepreneurship is more than “just do it” It’s best to test the waters by moonlighting for a while but be sure to check your company’s policy on this first. Unless you have a specific business already in mind, start with a list of things you are most passionate about including hobbies and interests. Are you an expert in a certain area? What kind of business do you want? Do you want to make something? Sell something on the internet or provide a service? To be a successful entrepreneur you must have passion! But passion is not enough, it must be combines with a unique value proposition. Here are a few more attributes that make for a successful entrepreneur:
Resilience and Relentless pursuit of your goal: You will have to learn to deal with obstacles and setbacks. Many times it will be necessary to find alternative routes to reaching your goal. Along the way, following up is crucial to customer satisfaction and therefore repeat business. Setbacks are bound to happen; you just can’t afford to look at it as a glass half-empty.
Focus: Since you are wearing many hats, it’s easy to get sidetracked either with a new request or taking too long on an issue. Maintaining focus and prioritizing what you’re working on will keep you on track. This includes being very organized and having excellent time management skills. Unlike your day job, there is no one to keep you on track but yourself.
Agility: Shifting priorities and changing customer demands means you need to be able to change direction as needed without breaking stride. One of the benefits of a small business is the ability to change direction quickly based on market conditions. Larger companies don’t have this ability….use it to your advantage.
Ability to take risk: Being an entrepreneur means taking risk with an unknown outcome. One way to deal with difficult decisions is to map out several scenarios….”what ifs” including all potential downside risks. Not all of the scenarios have an equal chance of happening, so assign a probability to each based on all information at that moment.
Now that you have brainstormed your business idea, where do you start? Talk to people you know who run businesses. How did they start? How do they get and keep their customers? What are their biggest challenges? Take the time while you are still working at your day job to fully research the market you are considering. Who else is in the space doing something that is similar? How is your offering different from what’s already out there? To be successful, new businesses must differentiate their offering. This may mean you will need to narrow the focus of your business and offer a unique twist to what is currently being done.
Before launching your business, you should prepare a Business Plan including a forecast of revenue and expenses. This will give you an idea of the funding you will need before launching your business full-time. This is an important step since most businesses fail because they simply run out of cash. By running a parallel path, you can fully plan for your business and prepare for the needed funding.
The next step is getting customers. By knowing what type of client you are after, it allows you to focus your sales and marketing efforts. In previous decades, people used Push Marketing – cold calling, direct mail – trying to tell everyone what you have to sell. Today it’s much more Pull Marketing – having customers come to you. By building a brand and demonstrating your expertise to your client segment, they will seek you out when they need your product or service. This is where social media shines, all your social media efforts have to be integrated and have a common theme….this is exactly where LinkedIn excels. But establishing yourself in the crowded social media world takes time…..running a parallel path gives you that time.