The decision to start your own business is probably one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever take. There are so many unknown factors to consider, most of which you won’t even think of during the early stages of your decision-making process. A key component to your decision is establishing whether you have the characteristics and “heart” to start and successfully run your own business.
Entrepreneurship can be defined as the “use of personal initiative, through engaging in calculated risk-taking, to create a new business venture by raising resources to apply innovative new ideas that solve problems, meet challenges, or satisfy a need of a clearly defined market”
Determining the meaning of the word “entrepreneur” takes us back 400 years to the 17th century, where entrepreneur meant “flag bearer”. This was the unfortunate soldier that had the responsibility of carrying the flag at the forefront of a battle. Not only was he singled out by standing in front of his army, but he also had the highest possibility of being killed.
In today’s terms, being “killed” takes a different meaning. As a new entrepreneur, you bear the flag of your new venture, out into the battlefield of potential customers and competitors, with the hope that you won’t be “killed”. Being “killed” in this context refers to a business that fails. Planning, preparation and in-depth research are in all probability the first steps you will have to follow. But, how do you plan? What do you plan for? How do you prepare yourself? What do you need to look out for? How do you conduct market research?
These are some of the daunting questions, enough to make you think twice if whether starting your own business is really such a good idea. But, there are many critical questions you need to ask on your path to becoming an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is not just a job. If you want a Monday to Friday, 9 to 4 job, you are in the wrong place. Failure in most instances is inevitable. It is anticipating the causes of failure and successfully planning for it that will increase the possibility of success.
So, you have an idea but before you go any further, consider the following reasons why you want to become an entrepreneur:
If freedom is at the top of your list, then you should probably not become an entrepreneur. Although it can be a long-term goal, it will in all certainty not materialise during the start-up phase of your business, i.e. the first 4 to 5 years. If you think starting your business will be without stress or pressure, allowing you to do what you want when you want it, then you are sadly mistaken. You may think just because you’re not working for a boss anymore you will experience a care-free live as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately that’s not the case. You will in all probability find that you will have more pressure than if you worked for someone else.
If money is at the top of your list, then you should probably not become an entrepreneur. Less than 8% of successful entrepreneurs start a business for reasons of earning more money. Most failed businesses are as a result of greedily focusing on money rather than customer service. Now, I’m not saying that money shouldn’t be a priority. But, it shouldn’t be the most important reason. Money is only the reward for what you put into your business. The more you put in, the more money you will make.
If security is at the top of your list, then you should probably not become an entrepreneur. Being employed by a company provides some form of security. Choosing to start your own business and to become an entrepreneur is a risky decision, which will never provide you with security. That being said, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that this “risky” decision is based on a calculated decision, taking all potential risks into consideration. Make no mistake – starting your business does involve a degree of risk – that is a fact. In South Africa, approximately 80% of all new businesses fail within the first 5 years of opening their doors. So, the odds are against you.
Advancement, Challenge, Contribution, and Opportunity
If any of these factors are at the top of your list, you definitely should become an entrepreneur. Very few jobs will offer the level of challenge and opportunity of advancement you will experience as a business owner. Remember, whichever of these factors you value most; it is only an attitude towards being an entrepreneur. It’s never too late to change your focus and reason(s) for becoming an entrepreneur. To be an entrepreneur and a successful one at that, you will have to focus on serving people. Your contribution should be to serve your customers to the best of your ability. If you learn to satisfy your customers’ needs successfully, your reward will be so much more than just money. It will be a personal satisfaction that will be indescribable. Apart from that, you will secure loyal customers and will build an excellent reputation.
Need further information and guidance? You are welcome to contact me on +27 79 300 8984 and I will be more than happy to help wherever I can!
Good luck with your ideas and new business venture!