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    4 Replies Latest reply on Oct 17, 2009 6:13 AM by JasonTees

    how can i become a successful entrepreneur?

    jayben Wayfarer
      what does it take to become a successful entrepreneur? i want to know what has worked for you. i would love to make the adjustments and preperations NOW so that i can have success in the future. one area i've already preped for is not expecting quick money...i know that it'll take hard work and determination.

      in regards to financing and marketing what are some helpful tips to get my name out there and not go under before i can cash a check?
        • Re: how can i become a successful entrepreneur?
          cutcomp Wayfarer
          I think there are two general types who succeed as entrepreneurs--one type enjoys starting businesses, any business. They tend to be good at general business operation and management, and are often serial entrepreneurs, who start up, build, and then sell off a number of different business ventures. For these folks, it doesn't matter so much what the business actually is, they're just good at starting and growing businesses generally.

          The second type (and this is the category that I fall into) is someone who recognizes a certain aptitude and skill set within themselves and builds a business around this. My business, helping employers identify and recover Workers Compensation insurance premium overcharges, grew out of my experience in the commercial insurance field, yet this niche business is quite unique and distinct from traditional roles in the insurance field.

          While working as an insurance broker, I found that I could help clients recover Workers' Comp overcharges--and that I enjoyed that sort of work much more than I did the more traditional role of insurance broker. Additionally, I very much liked the idea of working for myself (avoiding the kinds of office politics and bureaucratic decision-making I had seen while working for larger organizations). I also had some unique skills and experiences that seemed to be useful to someone who was going to be running the whole (albeit small) show. I enjoyed being involved in the entire business of promoting, marketing, and developing a small business (as long as it was my own small business) and I have found that doing this calls upon lots of different kinds of skills, from developing sales materials to web site development and search engine optimization (all the while also doing the actual technical insurance work that is the basis for the company's existence.)

          The key to this business, for me, has been that it suits me psychologically. I enjoy the work for it's own sake, and yet I can also make a decent living at it (although it has had its ups and downs over the years, as many small businesses have.)

          It's been an extended post-graduate course in business (even though I never studied business in college) and it has utilized a number of skills that I was, fortunately, fairly good at. My work requires strong communications skills, both written and verbal, as well as an ability to dissect and analyze somewhat technical material. But in addition to that, running and growing a small consulting practice for over 20 years has also meant I had to learn how market, network, and promote the business.

          Fortunately for me, I was good enough at those things to make a go of this. I now even have a second generation working with me in the business, as my son joined me a little over six years ago.

          I've also been fortunate in being able to team up with some talented and smart people who work with us as independent contractors. They enable us to function as a somewhat larger company than we are on paper, because these long term "partners" have brought additional skills and insights to our operation (but because they are independent contractors, paid on commission, we've been able to keep our fixed costs low.)

          I wouldn't be good as one of those "serial entrepreneurs", I don't think, as I don't think my particular psyche could grow a business I wasn't passionate about personally--and I couldn't bear to sell it off to strangers. But as a "Type II" entrepreneur, one who enjoys having his own small show to run, it's worked out pretty well for me (so far, at least). After doing this for the past 22 years though, I've also learned that it's difficult to predict what the future holds. How does the old saying go--"Man plans, God laughs".
          • Re: how can i become a successful entrepreneur?
            cutcomp Wayfarer
            Oh, here's another point I should have made in my previous post. Essentially from the get-go, my business had to be profitable--at least to some extent. I had a family depending on me, and I didn't have a lot of money in the bank, so when I started it was an extremely modest start. I set up a work area in the basement of my house, with phone, computer, printer, desk and filing cabinet. Then I spent half of every day marketing my services. Fortunately, since I had been an insurance broker for years and thus sales had always been part of my job, I was comfortable with cold calling and giving my sales pitch to prospects. That was how I got this rolling--cold calling prospects every day. When I started, I had one client come with me from my previous employment (fortunately no non-compete to tie me up.) The rest I put together from scratch.

            Now, fortunately, we're in a position where I don't have to do any real marketing directly myself. We have independent contractors that market our services for a commission, and we also get a fair amount of work from people finding us on the internet. But when I started this business, it was just me.

            But because the business had to always be profitable and generating cash, it kept me from spending money I didn't have. A lot of startups, I think, burden themselves with excessive costs and debt at the outset, before they know if the business is really going to generate sufficient revenue to justify those costs.

            I couldn't afford to be fancy, particularly in the early days. I had to figure out what worked, and do so fairly quickly, as I didn't have any significant cushion. That focuses the mind wonderfully on the bottom line, and on cash flow.

            Even today, I can't take my eye off cash flow for very long. We're still a small business, and we live and die by cash flow. We have a bit more breathing room nowadays, but taking your eye off cash flow is still a great way to run your business aground. We don't operate out of my basement anymore--but our offices are still cost-efficient and reasonable. Our expenses have grown, but we're always watching them and looking for ways to hold them down.
            • Re: how can i become a successful entrepreneur?
              shallom22 Newbie
              Well there are lot of stories associated with successful entrepreneurs as there are many, the unsuccessful ones equally share some stories too. the basic step to being a successful entrepreneur is all about your mind set and your actions. Are your actions inline to your mindset or vice-versa?
              For example, you aspire to set up an enterprise and wish to be prosperous, do you have the mind-set towards that purpose. Most times people fail in business due to the mentality the have towards their business.
              Mentality of going into business to try it out, that's a wrong mentality, infact that is mentality of failure, for entrepreneur's are just people that MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.

              After the mentality stuff, you have to ask your self what type of business do I go into, try and answer some questions like Is there a real need for my business? are there people out there that needs my business? do not base your judgement on hypothetical facts, be real.

              Then,after the first two commit it to GOD through prayer to give you wisdom to carry on the activities of Planning the Business plan. Organising the plan, Develop the plan, Cordinate the plan and lastly Control the plan--This I call the PODCC PRINCIPLE. I tell you alot of potential young entrepreneur's lack this skill and get stuck some where along the road. Some successful one's have in-built skills to go through these stages and come out shinning.
              Financing a new start-up comes to play during the Planning stage, there you take a tour to the money available at your disposal and know how much you want as working capital, make realistic projections your sources of fund.

              Marketing is a whole function on its own that you need to adequately plan and be sure that your input translates positively during your cordinating. Based on the funds available in your financial planning will it produce desired marketing result?
              • Re: how can i become a successful entrepreneur?
                JasonTees Wayfarer
                There's no substitute for experience. If there is a particular type of business that you want to get into, get a job in that type of business. Even if you earn minimum wage, you will earn more insight and experience than any college program will ever teach you. If the business you work for is successful, try to figure out what they do well. Even ask the owner what the key to their success is. Small business owners love nothing more than to talk about their business. If the business ain't so hot, try to figure out why. That way you can "cherry pick" the good ideas, learn from the bad ideas, all while not risking any of your own money.

                In terms of being an entreprenuer, here what you can expect:

                1) When you start, business will be slow, and you will feel discouraged. Just remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, and that the long term success of your business will be highly dependant on your ability to establish relationships with you customers. On average, it takes 16 touches before a person decides to become a customer of an establishment. That number varies depending on what type of business you have, but the bottom line is that it takes time to build a customer base.

                2) It's not always fun. Your friends who work regular jobs get vacations and sick days. They also get a regular paycheck regardless of how the business did that month. You may have to go months or years before you take a vacation, and even then, there is no guaranty that you will succeed.

                3) Financing is hard to come by. Lenders will only lend to businesses who prove they can pay back the money. Be prepared to scratch and claw. Credit cards, friends, family, your piggy bank, are all ways to come up with cash. If possible, get your financing lined up before you start your venture. Lenders don't dig desperation. If they think you are on the edge, they will not be interested in watching their cash dissappear down the drain.

                4) Chances are that you WILL fail. And that's just fine. Just for fun, google all the successful entreprenuers who have failed before making it big. The list is long and distinguished.

                Best of luck to you!