Categorized | Business

Do You Have What It Takes To Run Your Own Business?

Posted on 20 October 2009

There’s never been so much interest in entrepreneurship — what it is, what makes it work and how to boost it in yourself and your company. Whether you’re ready to graduate from business school and become a free agent, start a business after college or want to help your next employer get ahead, seeing yourself as an entrepreneur can give you an edge.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur today?

Perhaps more than anything else, entrepreneurship is a mindset. How entrepreneurs think about four key elements of their business — process, timing, customers and information — can determine their success. Examining how they deal with these four factors can provide insight into the entrepreneurial attitude.

The Process

The conventional wisdom is you start with an idea and if the idea is good and you implement it correctly, your business succeeds. If the idea is bad or you falter in your implementation, the business fails. The conventional wisdom is wrong.

For an entrepreneur, starting a business is the first step in a never-ending process that you never get right the first time. “We’ve let go of perfection,” says Michelle Toth, CEO of the Inner Workout in Cambridge, Mass. She founded her weight-management business in 1998 and launched it online in 1999.

Trying to get a startup right guarantees that by the time you open, not only won’t it be right, but you won’t have enough time and money to go back and make it right.

Successful entrepreneurs live on instant feedback-and-adjustment cycles. You can’t be locked into one business concept.

Says Shayne Gilbert, president and founder of Silverweave Interactive, Inc., an Internet strategy consulting firm in Boston, “Whatever you can develop in three months, develop it and get it up on the Web and begin interacting with customers.” In addition to starting a business, the entrepreneurs’ challenge is to establish a flexible business-building process. This process should incorporate change and enable you to try, learn and adapt quickly.

Perfect Timing

Everyone knows speed is important. But moving at the right time is what counts.

Can anyone teach you how to develop a sense of timing? Successful entrepreneurs learn to rely on intuition to guide their sense of timing. They know when to take a step because they feel it.

Start-up founders aren’t bound to such arbitrary measures of time as 12-month budgets or three- or five-year business plans. Instead, their love and passion for their business causes them to constantly observe and gather information about their business. This builds their intuition and helps them to take the right step at the right time.

Love and passion for your business is the key to increasing your intuition. When a mother loves her child, her intuition about the child grows because of the constant care and attention she’s giving. In the same way, if you love your business, the constant care and attention you give it will boost your intuition about it. The longer you’re in a business you love, the more your intuition about it will grow.

Timing decisions shouldn’t depend on arbitrary external measures. You must develop your ability to integrate your passion and intuition to make decisions that are right for your business and make them at the speed required for success.

Customer Support

Building a successful business is about satisfying paying customers. Even in cyberspace, you need a customer with an open wallet to provide the return your shareholders are expecting. Traditional thinking says that having a strategic advantage over your competitors is how you become successful. Being better than the competition worked in the era of mass production, but the customer has more control now. Technology has created markets of one through individual customization.

Kathy Allen, entrepreneur and a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California, says to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to “identify potential customers even before you design your product or service since you need to involve them in the design process.” Then test the feasibility of your products or services before committing your limited resources.

Many successful entrepreneurs base their businesses on customer input and feedback, even in the development stage. Satisfying your customers is the only way to achieve lasting success and realize the potential of your business. After all, you can beat the competition and still not have a satisfied customer.

Necessary Information

Being an entrepreneur requires “a tremendous knowledge of the industry you’re going to be competing in,” says Ms. Allen. Constantly gathering information about your business helps feed your intuition and sense of timing. The gathering, processing and connecting of information is critical to its success. Entrepreneurs talk to their customers, read about them and their industry and attend trade shows. They’ll do everything they can to stay in touch with their business because they love it.

When they can feel their business in their gut, it means that their intuition has developed so that the tiniest fluctuation is a signal to act.

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- who has written 28 posts on Higher Education and Career Blog.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. travis says:

    I think now more than ever, becoming an entrepreneur is important for a lot of people, especially with the downturned economy. That being said, for people pursuing that path, I think the biggest mindset to have isn’t one of failure, but rather one of grabbing opportunities. Don’t stress where you messed up, rather stress what you failed to capitalize on.

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