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 Thingand 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?

16 Comments

  • June 19, 2010 Reply

    TimB

    Hi. Great guest post from Joel. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of turning off the TV and investing some time in researching your business. I’ve just started doing this and have written about it on my site – http://www.zonejumping.com/wordpress – it’s amazing what investing a little time on a regular basis can do in terms of productivity. Sure, it requires some discipline but you’re going to need to step it up sooner or later if you want to make that leap from the 9-5 to being your own boss. Incidentally, I’m currently re-reading a book about living in Italy and a chapter in there deals with types of workers. In Italian an employee is known as dipendenti (ie, dependant/reliant on a job/employer) and a self-employed person is autonomo (ie, independent/autonomous). Personally, I find that little change in the definitions to be really inspiring when I’m seeking motivation to get my ass in gear and get my own business off the ground! Let’s hear it for the autonomi!

    • June 20, 2010 Reply

      Joel

      I like the distinction between dipendenti and autonomo – thanks for pointing that out and I may just have to use that some time!

    • June 20, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hi Tim,

      Definitely, I’m all in for being a lifetime autonomo. Sweet.

  • June 19, 2010 Reply

    Martin

    Excellent tips. You’ve just shared valuable information with small business owners.

    • June 20, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hello Martin and welcome to the site.

      Thanks for the comment and the judos points goes to Joel. Also, that 12 year old blogger you indexed on your site is incredible. The benchmark has been blown away.

      • June 20, 2010 Reply

        Martin

        Oh wow, thank you so much for that flattering comment Jonny. I appreciate it a lot!

        • June 21, 2010 Reply

          Jonny

          No worries.

  • June 19, 2010 Reply

    Globetrooper Lauren

    My one piece of advice for people wanting to start a business. Don’t listen to others. Even your family or friends. They don’t really care, they care about themselves more. And if what you’re doing sounds riskay to them they’ll probably get all negative on you, and then you’ll start doubting yourself.
    If YOU think you have a good idea, take the leap with it.

    • June 20, 2010 Reply

      Joel

      Great advice although I would say it’s still a smart thing to listen to others but just don’t rely on others to make any kind of final decision.

    • June 20, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      It is an unfortunate truth that everything will instinctively do is driven by self interest and so taking others advice with a large spoonful of salt is usually a very solid piece of advice.

  • June 20, 2010 Reply

    Angela Artemis

    I couldn’t agree more about turning off the television! Nothing sucks the life out of you like TV. Focus on your business instead. Eventually baby steps turn into huge strides.

    • June 21, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Indeed they do Angela, after a fair few stumbles it seems. Thanks for the comment and thanks for visiting the site. Also, love your blog.

  • June 23, 2010 Reply

    Baker

    Excellent article. I would say that the main reason that stops people from starting a business or doing something they love, comes down to fear. Fear of the unknown. It’s ironic, that unknown is where we find out the most about ourselves and what we are really capable of.

    • June 23, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      Hello Baker,

      …and yet fear has such a crippling effect. Ironic no? Fortunately I don’t believe it is about being fearless and instead about being bold and facing the fears head on which is always easier said than done.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • July 12, 2010 Reply

    Jayden Scott

    it is easy to get Business ideas, just look for a product or service that has demand and fill it,;’

    • July 13, 2010 Reply

      Jonny

      True

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