If you always seem to see things in a slightly different way, are constantly “improving” the way any task is accomplished, and find others looking to you for ideas and motivation—you could very well be an entrepreneur-in-the-making. Entrepreneurs can’t help but try to make the world a better place; fixing things, changing things—it’s in their blood. So, what’s the difference between having an idea and being an entrepreneur? Taking action, of course.
1. From Idea to Business Plan
The idea is the spark that leads to the Big Bang of the truly inspired entrepreneur. But it isn’t enough to decide that what the world needs now is another brand of widget to choose from. What you need to envision is a special or entirely new widget—a widget that becomes the only choice for smart, stylish, informed widget-users.
Once you have a unique idea, the real work begins. Your idea lives in the world of speculation, but the product or service lives in the real world—and a business plan helps evaluate how well your great idea will work in the marketplace. It details everything necessary to bring your venture to life, and forces you to ask yourself the necessary questions: Where is your market? Who is your competition? How much capital do you need? How much profit can you make? If you can’t answer every question completely, satisfactorily and within your means, it may be time to rethink your idea.
2. Be Prepared to Work Hard
Okay, now you have the product or service down. You have a business plan. You have the money, or a capital partner, or a plan on how to acquire the necessary funds to begin. Now be prepared to sacrifice nearly every semblance of your normal life to make it all come together. A true entrepreneur lives, breathes, eats, sleeps and dreams the business.
The price of being your own boss is high, and your social life will probably suffer, as you put in 12-hour days nearly every day. That said—don’t lose sight of your family, your kids, and your health. Make appointments with yourself, on your calendar—and keep them! Remember that your body fuels your mind, not the other way around. You’ve never quite seen burn out until you’ve worked 365 days before you suddenly realize you haven’t had even one day off that year. Exhaustion dulls your mind and drains your enthusiasm.
3. Avoid Procrastination – Stay Focused
Don’t put things off—write them down! Checklists are great accountability, especially when your mind is exploding with new ideas by the minute. Whittle away at your list daily, and reprioritize each morning. If you aren’t crossing something off day after day, take a second look. Is there a reason for that? Maybe it’s not really important, or maybe it is out of your comfort zone; if so, consider getting some advice or feedback from a friend, partner or mentor—because that one item could be keeping you from moving forward.
As a working entrepreneur, you will lose heart at times, and maybe get frustrated, and you may look longingly at the couch and think about taking the rest of the day (or night) off. But don’t—at least not yet. Think: is there anything else you need to do before calling it a day? If you have any tasks slated for that day, get them done and write down tomorrow’s plan while you’re at it. This will put your mind at ease and allow you to rest and come back the next day replenished.
4. Be Prepared for Change
If you’re expecting a smooth, level road to success you’re definitely in the wrong line of work—honestly, true entrepreneurs thrive on shifting gears and rebounding with gusto; in fact, the more change the better. They are undaunted and delight on creating new and innovative ways to approach every arising issue.
Entrepreneurs know instinctively that tastes will change, markets must shift, money dries up and the competition can slide in under your nose. If nothing else, change forces you to keep up or go under, and adversity is the impetus to exploring new approaches, different markets, and possibly even rethinking your entire customer base.
5. Never Give Up
Inspire others with your passion and dreams, and they will be your most loyal customers. Hold tight to your integrity and others will trust you and what you have to offer. And take heart—when you put in your best efforts day after day, it has a way of always coming back to you—just when you really need it the most.
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