Becoming an entrepreneur is not the right fit for everyone. Unfortunately, there are many people who find this out when they start a business, and then end up with a ringside seat as it falters and fails. Experienced entrepreneurs who serve as mentors to aspiring business-owners cite one repeated issue as the cause. In short, the excitement of a new business idea and imagining oneself as an independent, successful entrepreneur frequently overshadows the reality of all the day-to-day work required for success. Because small businesses are so integral to shoring up a flagging national economy, more efforts are being made to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with the practical tools that can refine their dreams and prepare them for success.
“Entrepreneur” is a word used so frequently in society today most people do not stop to ask themselves if they truly understand what this word means. This also applies to the entrepreneurs themselves. Once you acquaint yourself with the textbook definition, the role begins to lose some of its mystery and magic. For instance, Merriam-Webster provides this definition of the entrepreneur: “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” The French root of the word, “entreprende,” translates literally as “to undertake.” So at its core, the role of any aspiring entrepreneur is to undertake a task from start to finish, wearing all of the hats, reaping all of the rewards and assuming all of the risks.
Preparing for Entrepreneurship
There are many paths you can take to prepare yourself for entrepreneurship. One of the best ways to prepare is to obtain a masters degree in human services or another degree relevant to the field you wish to pursue. Often advanced education includes a more practical business component in recognition of the higher-level executive, management, administrative and financial functions that advanced degree holders will undertake after graduation. Another essential step to prepare yourself for entrepreneurship is to simply ask, “Am I ready to start my own business?” Discovering your answer will engage you on numerous levels as you think through the ramifications as well as the rewards of this choice.
Reasons Not to Start Your Own Enterprise
As with all big decisions, there are as many bad reasons as good reasons to start your own company. Here are some reasons that likely will not stand the test of time — at least if they serve as your principle motivation for launching your enterprise:
1. I am miserable at my job now. Rather than leap from one miserable situation to another (potentially miserable) situation, discover the specifics of why you are miserable. Then, make your decision about how to best solve your dilemma.
2. I have no money coming in (or I need to make more money). It takes some amount of funding to bring revenue in your door. Starting a new business with no cash reserves is like starting to bake a cake when you have no sugar in your cupboard.
3. My parents/spouse/colleagues think I would be good at it (or expect me to do it). It is great to have supportive people in your life who think you would make a great entrepreneur, but they will not be running your new business — you will.
4. I don’t know what to do with my life. “Let’s try it and see how it goes,” does not tend to be a recipe for long-term success in entrepreneurship.
5. I want to prove myself to such-and-so. The heart of entrepreneurship, according to Forbes, is to love what you do. There is no mention of proving yourself to anyone but you.
A Recipe for Entrepreneurial Success
The best recipe for success in launching a business enterprise will be based on ensuring your reasons are sound, your methods are sounder, your mentors are plentiful and your cash reserves are even more so. This way, your new company — and your entrepreneurial dreams — stands the very best chance of success.
Rebecca Thompson launched her first company when she was 16. Today, she is a master’s-level graduate in human services and is launching her third business.
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