5 Ways to Make it as a Successful Entrepreneur
Successful tech founder Stuart Melling runs through five characteristics that help any entrepreneur take the leap into business successfully
While the amount of new businesses starting continues to rise, almost half of the new companies created in any given year fail within their first five years. So what does it really take to leave the security that comes with a regular pay check and become your own boss?
Here are five key traits that have made me, and others, become a better business leader and as a result have helped my company thrive…
As a business owner you need to be a go-getter
The ability to self-start is perhaps the most important feature of successful entrepreneurs. From a very young age I knew that working for someone else wasn’t for me and although initially launching a company can result in long hours and low pay, it enables you to start and grow something you have created. This was enough to motivate me to work to make my dream of running my own business a reality – and I believe most good entrepreneurs are wired in this way.
I recently spoke to fellow entrepreneur Alex Moss, founder of FireCask, about how he was driven to go it alone from the on-set:
“When in university I didn’t want a bar job or to hand out flyers in the rain; instead I taught myself how to design websites and went from there. Because I didn’t know anyone else with skills in web design, I decided to teach myself Photoshop skills and PHP, as well as force myself into business and client relations. I didn’t realise at the time how important those skills would be to set up what we have today.”
So follow your instinct and push yourself out of the usual career path comfort zones; some people launch their first company before they have even left school – perhaps failing initially but learning along on the way.
Entrepreneurs fail and often more than once
To be successful, you will constantly be taking risks – the first being starting up to begin with.
Accept that you will fail at something; maybe the office space you wanted fell through, or you didn’t win the first client you pitched for. Failing is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean it will flaw your business. One idea might not work, but brush it off and move on to the next. Failing at something will make you more resilient and drive your passion; it also helps you to learn and become a better leader.
You have to realise that failing is part of the process of growth, and therefore don’t beat yourself up or try to avoid it to the point of becoming stagnant – this will kill your business.
You have to be passionate about your business to make it
When I spoke to Moss about what advice he would give to budding entrepreneurs he said, ”passion is everything. Turning off at 5:00 pm is not an option, and never will be.”
Replying to emails on a Sunday morning or working late into the night to get your next project completed is a lot more manageable when you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing. Furthermore unless you have managed to secure investment, have won the lottery or have a fair amount of money stashed away, it’s likely you will need to continue your day job until your company starts bringing in enough revenue for you to leave.
This means long hours and spending holiday time working, and if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it won’t be long before this takes its toll.
Remember to take time out from your company
All this said, it is crucial for yourself and the people around you that you learn how to take time out. Walking the dog for half an hour at lunch time, or just taking 10 minutes in the morning to have a cup of tea and read the paper will make all the difference.
Not taking a break is likely to result in you being irritable, which could affect your relationships with employees and customers (and won’t do much for your personal life either). Taking a break will also help you gain perspective on current projects or the business in general – enabling you to make better and more effective decisions.
As an entrepreneur you need to learn to “say no”
When you are just starting up, it’s tempting to take on any project that is going to bring in money. “At the beginning you’ll want to say yes to lots of jobs – but consider them carefully. If you don’t have a good feeling about the lead, don’t take it. You’ll find another,” added Moss.
Saying yes to everything thrown at you could land you in a sticky situation. Say you don’t have enough staff to handle the workload, or it’s not quite the right project for you; you could end up letting the client down and tarnishing your reputation before your company has even got off the ground. Planning and decisiveness is essential.
If being an entrepreneur was easy, everyone would do it. In the beginning you will be stretched for time and energy, but put the work in and you will eventually reach your goal of running your own successful business.
For more tips and lessons from experienced entrepreneurs take a look at our sister site Startups.co.uk’s ‘How they grew: Business success stories’ section.
This article was written by Stuart Melling, co-founder of web hosting company 34SP.com.