Overview (750 Words)
This is a guest post from CPF Joel Ohman.
Author Bio: Joel Ohman is a Certified Financial Planner™ and serial entrepreneur that has founded 5 different startup companies. One of his most recent ventures is a company that owns and operates a number of different consumer personal finance websites including an insurance quotes website and a website for doing car insurance comparisons. Joel is a first time guest writer at The Life Thing and he recommends that you check out the “5 Whopping Lies” post written by Jonny for a great read (after reading this article of course!)
The magic key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to just do it. OK, article over – have a comment? Just kidding, just kidding.
In all reality, while there is undoubtedly a gigantic advantage gained by the individual who just jumps in feet first to begin their entrepreneurial endeavor as opposed to those who just love to talk about starting a business “someday” it wouldn’t be very helpful at all if that was the only piece of advice I gave you so here are some practical tips for becoming a successful entrepreneur (and then please chime in via the comments below with any tips of your own that you would like to add):
More Paw Work & Less Jaw Work
Do you ever get the feeling that every single person on the planet has at least once in their lives uttered the phrase “I should start a business” or “I have a great business idea” or “Some day when I get the time I should really do my own thing”? Everyone and their uncle finds it easy to talk about “doing their own thing” and fantasize about being their own boss but when it comes right down to it all of that talk is just that – talk.
Why not turn off the TV and work on your business for 3-4 hours every night when you get home from your “day job”? Sure, it’s a sacrifice but you will be surprised at what you can accomplish with just those few hours every night. Quit talking about it and start doing it!
Fill a Real Need (Maybe Your Own)
Many would be entrepreneurs think that they need to think of an absurdly clever “out of this world” idea for a business venture that no one has ever thought of before. Sure, sometimes those flashes of inspiration are nice but there is no need to rack your brain and pray for a bolt of lightning to give you the idea of a lifetime.
Simply pay attention to the world around you and look for little opportunities to fill the needs of people around you.
In fact, one of the ways that many successful entrepreneurs have found their business model is when they start out to “scratch their own itch” and create a product or service that fills a need that they personally have. Be your own customer and design the perfect product/service for yourself and the many others like you!
Start Out Small
If you think that every successful entrepreneur begins by trekking around Silicon Valley making pitches to venture capitalists, hedge funds, and angel investors for millions of start up funding then you are mistaken.
According to the Kauffman Foundation’s study on entrepreneurial credit card debt 58% of entrepreneurs start out small and just use their own credit cards to fund their business in the first year of operations but watch out because most credit cards carry exorbitant interest rates. The study found that those with ongoing high credit card balances have a reduced likelihood of success as the study found that having credit card debt will reduce the likelihood that a business will survive its first three years of operations. You will do best to avoid using credit cards as a startup financing tool if at all possible as you can see from the study and also from the lifetime cost of credit calculator that shows that the true cost of using credit cards and not paying off the balance in full each month is much higher than you might think.
The beauty of starting out small is that it gives you the freedom to test out your business idea and if it proves profitable then great and if not then you can simply move on to the next idea without having overextended yourself and bet the farm on one idea.
In the “age of the Internet” it’s amazing what you can accomplish with just a domain name, a website, and a server.
Start out small, test your idea, and then if your idea is profitable then build a system to scale your business up quickly!
What do YOU Think?
What are some things that you think hold people back from attempting a new business venture and/or succeeding as an entrepreneur?
If you are already enjoying success as an entrepreneur then what is the #1 piece of advice that you would give to would be entrepreneurs?
How important do you think startup capital (money) is for the success of most small businesses?