By Michele Markey, Vice President, FastTrac
Every day, more than 17,000 people in the United States become business owners – and startup activity is now increasing for the first time since the Great Recession. Are you one of those aspiring entrepreneurs? If so, how will you find your way to entrepreneurial success?
While there is no guarantee of riches or even survival as a new business owner, beginning with the right mindset will give you momentum in the right direction.
In the Kauffman Foundation’s work with entrepreneurs in all industries, across the country, we’ve seen repeatedly that certain strategies are more likely to lead to success for new business owners. I would like to share with you four strategies – plus a bonus.
Pursue your passion
The starting point is to find what you are really passionate about and begin building your business around a vision to pursue that passion.
To identify your entrepreneurial passion, think about what you love to do – and what you are good at – and what someone will pay you to do. The intersection of these three is where you can find a clue to your business passion.
And then look into the future and develop a vision for how you can pursue that passion. Whether it’s a vision for six months or a year or three years, sketch out a plan for how you can move from where you are now to the business you want to create.
So if you’re passionate about your idea, commit to it – and get down to work.
Get ready to work hard
Some people who dream of launching a business watch entrepreneurs from a distance and think life must be easy as your own boss, with the flexibility and money of an owner. But that is not the reality: Being an entrepreneur is a lot of work.
Building a business demands a high level of commitment, extraordinary effort and sustained energy – the “all-in” personal investment that you don’t see from a distance. I think of it as casting off an employee mindset and taking on the total responsibility of an owner.
The first major task is to develop a business plan, to think through the big questions on how to make your business a success. You need to learn everything about your product or service, your customers and their needs, competitors and suppliers, financing and budgets, what works and what doesn’t in similar businesses.
The due diligence of identifying, researching and answering those questions is the major work of writing a business plan. The more you learn, the better your prospects for success.
Replace fears with knowledge
When I talk to people about entrepreneurship, they often describe fears that are holding them back. Some are afraid to get started; others hesitate to take that next step to grow the business.
“I would love to do this,” they say, “but …” Then they fill in the blank: “I don’t feel like I’m smart enough … I don’t have enough money … I don’t understand the financial piece …” They doubt their ability to succeed. Or they may look at famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg and think, “That’s not me. I don’t fit the mold.”
The best way to overcome your fears is to replace anxiety with knowledge. You can learn from formal courses or one-time workshops, books and materials at the library, and online education. The Kauffman Foundation, for example, collaborates with organizations around the country to offer Kauffman FastTrac training courses and offers free online resources on many topics at its Kauffman Founders School site.
As an entrepreneur, you can especially learn from other business owners. Engage this community by participating in organizations such as One Million Cups (now active in 77 cities), your chamber of commerce or industry association, the nearest Small Business Development Center or an event celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week. You’ll find like-minded people.
Exploring the challenges of building a business – and the solutions others have found – will help you move past your fears, get to the starting line and go.
Embrace failures along the way
Once you are pursuing that passion and launching your business, be prepared for setbacks. The business plan never plays out the way you expect it to. Step “A” does not always lead to Step “B,” and “B” doesn’t necessarily lead to “C” – it’s a winding path. The norm in business is to take two steps forward and one step back, so you need to embrace that process.
As you engage other business owners you will hear stories of failures and course corrections. Entrepreneurs often say, “We defined our business this way, and then six months later we saw a need over here, so we made a 90-degree turn and that’s where we found the real business.”
When you confront the prospect of failure, get help. Take hold of all the tools, resources and information available to you. Single-minded devotion to your passion, combined with the hard work to explore all options, will enable you to find your path to success.
Bonus strategy: Do well by doing good
As you think about building your business, ask this question: Is there a way to give back to the community, to help people while pursuing your entrepreneurial dream? Making an impact by doing good can, itself, help you to do well in business.
Examples range from social entrepreneurs whose goal is to provide jobs in impoverished areas to established businesses that support charitable events as a part of brand building. Doing good is motivational – for entrepreneurs, employees and customers. It’s a strategy that works.
Time to get started
Success as an entrepreneur grows out of your mindset. Begin by identifying your passion and a vision for how to pursue it. Buckle up and get ready for hard work. Replace your fears with knowledge and learning relationships. Don’t be shaken by failures along the way – adapt and move forward. And find ways to do well by doing good.
And now, it’s time to get started.
This article was written by Kauffman Foundation from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.