The Top 10 Things That Entrepreneurs Do

I heard a very interesting podcast about the world of entrepreneurs back before Christmas.  The guests, Anne S. Habiby and Deirdre M. Coyle, Jr., were talking about their recent article “The High-Intensity Entrepreneur” from the Harvard Business Review. What stood out to me from the podcast and the article was this statement:

Today entrepreneurs anywhere can create value with relatively little capital.Today entrepreneurs anywhere can create value with relatively little capital.

That single line made me think a lot about the simple question, what is an entrepreneur?  Why can they create value with so little capital?  What is the difference between being a one man shop, and an enterprise?  What do entrepreneurs do that make them succeed in the long run?  One of my favorite leaders of all time, Winston Churchill, said this about entrepreneurs:

Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is – the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I believe entrepreneurs succeed:

1. They Can Sell Anything To Anyone

I sometimes overlook this, but it’s because it’s second nature to me.  I can sell almost anything to almost anyone.  This is the number one thing it takes to be an entrepreneur because if you can’t sell your idea at the beginning you are going to fail quickly.  You have to be able to:

  • Get people to trust you
  • Provide them solutions
  • Close the deal and get the check

2. They Think Large From the Beginning

If you don’t start planning from the beginning to open more locations and franchise or grow your idea then you won’t plan properly.  Entrepreneurs think about:

  • How they’ll add staff
  • What their long term management structure looks like
  • How their financial model changes when their staff and number of locations grow

3. They Build With Systems in Mind

If you don’t start to think about systems from day one you’ll establish a crippling habit by relying on people instead of systems.  No matter who you are working with, the fact that they will ultimately leave you is inevitable.  Don’t be ignorant and blind.  Death, family issues, differences of opinion, and boredom are just a few causes of this.  Work to build systems that help you:

  • Make rock stars out of people with average skills
  • Give you a tight hold on your finances at all times
  • Makes raving fans out of your customers every day

4. They Make Everything Scalable

When you rent your first hosting account, are you thinking about how you’ll be able to move and grow your site?  When you lease your first office location, are you thinking about what expansion looks like?  When you purchase any service, do you think about how it can grow when you have a larger team and you need more?  Partner with great vendors who understand win-win and who can:

  • Start small and grow with you
  • Consistently deliver on time
  • Work with your standards

5. They Pursue Mass Market Appeal

Entrepreneurs are always looking for how they can take their idea to the masses.  The flattening of our world makes this easier to do, but it still means that you have to:

  • Research your idea and market thoroughly
  • Survey your demographic
  • Test market your idea

6. They Provide for Others

The word I like the best from the quote in the article I shared is the word value.  I believe that the opportunity to serve others and create value for your team is the greatest part of your job as an entrepreneur.  Real entrepreneurs:

  • Think of their teams financial needs above their own
  • Think of how to train and grow each team member
  • Try to ensure that their enterprise gives back to their community

7. They Have Incredible Resilience

In order to make it as an entrepreneur you have to be tougher, faster, and more resilient than the rest.  Trying and failing 1,000 times just means that you should keep trying.  Making no money for 2-3 years while you invest is what it takes sometimes.  Entrepreneurs are:

  • People with incredible physical and mental stamina
  • People who refuse to listen to negativity
  • People who’s attitude carries them forward

8. They Learn From Their Mistakes

When I hear someone tell me they are afraid to fail, I have one simple answer.  You will definitely fail.” You might be surprised because that doesn’t initially sound positive, but it actually is.  If you can get over the fact that you will fail and make mistakes then you can:

  • Treat mistakes as learning opportunities
  • Not let fear stop you from trying something new
  • Learn and grow faster than your competition

9. They Know That Businesses Fail

Entrepreneurs know that even the best ideas can fail.  Perfectly laid plans can go of course.  Time can change a model and make it obsolete.  If you understand that businesses fail and close up eventually then you can:

  • Live in reality and plan well personally
  • Learn to see the trends in business
  • Protect your team when you see the end coming

10. They Can Remake Themselves

Once you’ve been around the block a few times and started a few businesses you understand a lot of what I’ve described here.  A true entrepreneur won’t let let the ultimate learning experience of going out of business stop them.  Entrepreneurs can remake themselves, jump into new industries and use what they’ve learned to:

  • Start over with $20.00 in their pocket
  • Sell a concept and then produce results
  • Innovate better than the rest

That’s what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  Do you have it?  If you do then you can deliver results over and over.  Get out there and show the rest of us how it’s done.  Don’t ever let your fear stop you.

More great articles on entrepreneurs:

10 Successful Entrepreneurs You Must Connect With

Entrepreneurs: You do Know You’re Unemployable, Right?

The Entrepreneur’s Handbook – 59 Resources For First Time Entrepreneurs

50 Leaders Who All Young Entrepreneurs MUST Follow on Twitter

Einstein’s Advice For Entrepreneurs

Launching a New Generation of Entrepreneurs

The Importance Of Follow Through

One of the exciting things about being a self employed freelancer or small business owner is the flexibility it offers.  When new opportunities arise you are free to stop what you are doing and look into the new project that presents itself.  You also usually have more discretion on the hours and days that you work.  Taking time to explore the new opportunity that presents itself can either be very positive or very negative based on how you handle it.

If you are creative and spontaneous like me you may find it easy to wander from one task to the next without really checking to see if you have thoroughly completed what you originally started working on.  With this lesson I have been a slow learner but I am finally realizing how important it is to follow through and complete the tasks that I start.  Without thorough follow through we too often leave loose ends that negatively effect our work flow, client relationships, and personal work schedule.  I will be the first to admit that I enjoy the flexibility of being able to work on different projects throughout the day, however, this year is teaching me very clearly that I have to focus my attention to following through in a thorough manner.  This isn’t my nature but it is one very important step in growing to be a successful entrepreneur.

“In golf as in life it is the follow through that makes the difference.”

When I think of a company – here is what i see:

When I think of a company – here is what i see:

You have these 6-7 different departments regardless of what size your company is as far as employees.

As you can see as the owner/entrepreneur you have to work in 98% of these departments.

Imagine if you were running a large multi-million dollar a year company, you would have talented individuals running each department and you would only be working in leadership & management functions.

The difference you have when you are starting up a company is that in order for your company to grow you have to work consistently in each of the departments.  For example – you can’t neglect customer service for too long because that leg of your company will fall off and you’ll start to hurt in that area soon.  The same applies to any other leg that you work in.  You can’t neglect it for too long because it will cause you a lot of hurt and slow down.  Creating a systematic approach to working in each area keeps the beast moving and growing.  Each week there should be dedicated time spent on each area.  When someone tells you “this is an easy business to start and operate” run for your life!  There isn’t such a thing, and there is no easy way to success.  Dedication and hard work are what will make you successful and rich.

I have diagrammed an example of what one of my companies looks like, and it would be worth the time for you to do the same while envisioning your company.  No matter if you are a one man operation or have many employees it is always helpful to think your company through like this.

Keep your eye on the goal!

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.
Zig Ziglar

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

Like the diagram here? Check out FreeMind’s web page and download it today.  It is a great tool for strategy and planning.