IIf you want to be fairly good at something you will have to invest thousands of hours into it. If you want to be truly great you will need to dedicate just about your entire life.
The Art of Entrepreneurship
Tim Ferris might disagree but if you look at well-known professionals at the top of their game you will see that they have invested heavily into becoming a master in their chosen field. Few have done so by working 4 days a week...
Step 1: Become a master
If you want to teach you will first need to study. To be accorded the mantle of “master” you will first need to work, to “do your time” and work your way up the ladder of prestige and success. Start as the Magician’s apprentice, the undergrad, novice, clerk, rep, assistant, graduate or apprentice. You get the picture.
After that it’s often years of forging a reputation as a dependable source of productivity, perhaps as a manager or entry level mage if you are more the World of Warcraft kind of entrepreneur. To build expert status and be known as a “guru” one must do one’s time.
Strategy begins to emerge in proportion to your time invested in developing people, business, vision and strategic direction for your business. This, coupled with the hindsight of experience, makes for highly productive resource and hence a larger following and ultimately profit for your enterprise.
Ideally you should work within the industry you intend to set up in before you start a business. Equally you should get out from under your employer and set up on your own before you give away all your best endeavours and ideas for someone else’s profit.
Your best chance is to become a domain master in your chosen field. That’s not to say that you can’t make it in business unless you are a master- you can always start as a novice and become a master while running a business. Learning on the job is a harder but an equally valid route to mastery...
Step 2. Stand for something.
The thing about real Entrepreneurs is that they are driven. There is a fuel that drives them and which provides them with the motivation to get out there and make their dreams available to others. Often this conviction is borne out of a simple conviction. It can be base- a desire for Lamborghini’s if you listen to Tai Lopez. No matter how crass or lavish the motivation it doesn’t matter, the point is that most successful people are driven by a passion, a crusade or fervent desire. Just one thing; when you do make a stand for something try to make sure you really mean it. People see through pretenders in no time and no one really likes fakes.
If your motivating is cash then say it, if it’s a beach house someplace that’s just fine. What you don’t want to do is to be pretending it’s one thing when actually it’s another.
Step 3. Get like a marathon
This is going to be a slog. This is Cassius Clay, George Foreman stuff; a long hard fight for success and recognition in the entrepreneurial jungle. It might be a joyous marathon of a fight but there will be pain along the way. Long periods of solitude perhaps- slogging away at your business like the road runner eating up the miles in solitude. To begin with the landscape might be quite bleak, dotted outposts of interaction, tumble-weed drifting by, the occasional sale, cashflow issues...over time the landscape unfolds as you start to make a name for yourself, as you start to generate a surplus and increased profits. By the time you get into the foothills of success you will have a following, a loyal customer base and your life will get easier. Eventually you will hit the uplands of entrepreneurism and will start to make some serious money.
If you want to be an entrepreneur you have got to be ready for the long-haul flight. OK, so we’re mixing metaphors here but whatever the metaphor, whether fight or flight, you will need to stick with it. You will need to be someone who prefers to walk up a mountain than take the cable car, the person ready to take risk the tougher path for a better life.
Step 4: Be Authentic
Ok, so this step is more like a thinly veiled excuse to have a pop at all those weasel “grinders” out there selling their wealth-creating “expertise” to unsuspecting members of the public. I’m talking about self-proclaimed social media “gurus” and the scourge of wealth creating charlatans masquerading as get rich quick multi-level marketing gurus. I’m talking about those social media online mentors who frankly have little or no real entrepreneurial experience. Having ten thousand followers on Instagram doesn’t mean much- especially when you can buy followers. Sing autmotated software to like and follow other people’s posts on social media only to unfollow them as soon as they reciprocate does not make you an expert at anything. Having a following of random people with little shared interest is about as valuable as a chocolate teapot.
Some of these get rich gurus appear to be about twelve years old and are paying into pyramid type schemes themselves. This franchise model consists of posting multiple Instagram memes saying pseudo-profound things about business. Usually comprising an image of an expensive marque or of a lion with a soundbite of typeface pasted over it.
Most of the pictures in these campaigns are of ridiculously extravagant vehicles, yachts, planes or scantily clad attractive women. Material possessions that will stay well beyond the reach of the typical entrepreneur. The message is- just email me and you too can have all these cool toys. The fact that there is such a plague of these people and sites suggests that there is money to be made from naïve but hungry wannabe entrepreneurs. Just ask Tai Lopez who, to be fair, is one of the more sophisticated self-proclaimed entrepreneurial fake messiahs.
The problem is that the real gurus are being drowned out by the wide-boys and charlatans. Trawling social media platforms for followers using botware such as Instagress and Pin Pinterest does not lend itself to building a reputation of authenticity. To be authentic one needs to be consistent- even if, as is the case with Donald Trump; you are just consistently inconsistent.
It always amazes just how good the bullshit detectors of the public are and yet the fact that these fake entrepreneur coaches are everywhere suggests that many are shelling out for their snake-oil. If you want to last and have a truly credible name you will need to be truly authentic. That means finding your own voice and keeping it real. Just ask Gerald Ratner. If you’re too young to remember him just Google the guy- he’s the entrepreneur who glibly pronounced that people were stupid to buy his crap product. In no time he was out of business.
Step 5: Show compassion
OK, so we’re not pretending that people like Phillip Green and Donald Trump don’t exist or that they don’t employ lots of people but we really do believe that in the present day one has to have compassion as a business leader. The world is a mess and business needs to be a force for positive change. Call it conscious capitalism if you like, the days of the robber barons are long past.
The ever-widening chasm between rich and poor is something that all business owners ought to be thinking about. History tells us that if the gap gets too wide the masses will eventually take out the minority elite. Compassion is an insurance, besides that it’s a decent mindset to cultivate; keep your humanity as you fight for a toehold in the market, give back, share it around and make sure to look after your people.
Step 6. Follow the sale
All these aspirational thoughts about entrepreneurship are well and good but let’s not forget that enterprise is about securing a sale for profit. Either that or set up as a charity. Whether it’s your time or property that you are selling, extracting that sale with its margin is what’s it’s all about.
In most cases entrepreneurs are brilliant sales people, in some cases their success is driven by operational prowess and in few cases by innovative genius and creativity. Even the geeky boffins have to learn sales eventually. Steve Jobs might have been a smelly geek as youth but even he brushed up for the camera in later years. That plus the fact that he was a marketing genius with a ceaseless quest for product perfection made him one of the most successful entrepreneurs the world has seen.
Steve Jobs embodies another trait of successful entrepreneurs- he had tremendous focus. After leaving Apple and spending time developing Pixar he was invited to return to Apple. He found a company engrossed in developing a multitude of products. Out of over a hundred projects in development he created a massive stir by scraping all but three projects. Those projects went on to become the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Having focus and “sticking to the knitting” is a key hallmark of entrepreneurial endeavour. Once you have achieved real success with one business you can then diversify your portfolio of interests and, if you have the brain capacity and capital, become a serial entrepreneur like Richard Branson.
Step 7. Be the brand
It’s not a must but it is notable how so many leading entrepreneurs are almost synonymous with their brand identity. Think Richard Branson again, he started with a few hundred pounds and has gone on to found multiple businesses as part of his Virgin empire. While Branson has a reputation for empowering his staff to use their initiative he remains integral to the brand. The words “Richard Branson” and “Virgin” are entwined and virtually synonymous.
Step 7: Look after yourself.
Success in business won’t come overnight. We’ve already established that you will need to graft hard and for sustained periods of time. That means taking care of yourself. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and rest along the way. It doesn’t stop there. You will face lots of stress during your ascent to success so make sure you get plenty of exercise too. Not only will physical exertion keep you match fit and increase your stamina but it will help reduce your stress levels too. Physical exercise releases endorphins- feel good hormones that give you a buzz and keep the demons at bay. Sleep, exercise, good nutrition and the acquisition of new learning are all vital if you want to win in business.
Step 8: Learn to spot opportunities
Entrepreneurship is more than just starting a business. One hallmark of successful entrepreneurs is that they are good at spotting opportunities. They know how to solve problems that people will pay a premium for. Entrepreneurship is more than just having a good idea. It’s about being able to engage with customers, it’s a mindset- a state of mind that enables one to find new ways of solving problems and most importantly; it’s about creating value for customers.
Entrepreneurs can’t easily be pigeon-holed but many do share key traits. Risk taking, strategic thinking, having the ability to turn ideas into reality and steadfast tenacity are some of the more common traits of entrepreneurship.
More and more people are considering starting their own business and if you are one of them here’s some handy advice to take on board:
- Learn from the mistakes of others: Study the failures of others so that you can avoid the costly mistake they have already made. Their loss could be your cost saving exercise.
- Solve problems and deliver value: actively seek out problems to solve. It’s a good discipline to foster and sooner or later you will strike a rich vein of opportunity worth pursuing.
- Make a difference: Let your passion shine out. Passion and tenacity (or persistence) are vital characteristics of the successful entrepreneur.
- Acquire knowledge: Read books, find a mentor and network with other professionals. Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-discovery and learning.
If you think you've got what it takes why not read our article on how to fire your boss?
What are you waiting for? Given that it’s a long slog why not start your entrepreneurial journey today?