So you’ve decided to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur.
You’re sick of your 9-to-5 job that drains your mind, body and soul.
Plus you have an awesome business idea that could free you from the prison that is your day job.
But before you plonk that resignation letter on your boss’ desk, ask yourself the following questions and be 100% honest with yourself.
If you answer ‘no’ to any of these initial questions, do not quit your day job to be an entrepreneur – you may simply not be cut out for it.
And there’s no shame in it.
90% of Startups fail. So how to be that 10%? First, you have to answer yes to the following:
- Are you a risk taker?
- Are you passionate?
- Are you independent?
- Are you creative?
- Do you have a solid support network of family, friends and loved ones?
Taking risks – In it to win it
An entrepreneur, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.”
If you’re one of those people that avoids uncertainty in life at all costs, then entrepreneurship is not for you.
But if you enjoy the rush of taking calculated risks, then read on!
Before you get too excited, let’s look at some statistics.
According to U.S. Census data taken over several decades since the 1970s, half of the businesses started in the United States live five years or less.
And what may surprise you is that starting in a recession won’t affect your business’ odds of survival – meaning businesses started during periods of economic slowdown are more or less as likely to fail as those started during economic expansions.
Just look at businesses like Uber (2009) and AirBnB (2008). Both started when the economy was still reeling from the effects of Lehman Brothers.
So what can we take away from this simple statistic?
Basically, the risks aren’t really external – it’s really about you and your awesome idea.
Do you play it safe and sit on it? Or do you take the plunge and go for it?
As Albert Einstein once said, “A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is NOT what it is built for.”
Entrepreneurship is about passion
Starting a business is very daunting.
It is about taking a massive risk and believing in yourself.
And that means you have to have a burning passion for your business that is strong, steady and enduring.
The reason why passion is cited as one of the main drivers of success for startup success is simple – it serves as the fuel to keep you going as the weight of the risks bogs you down on a daily basis.
You have to have a burning and consistent desire to make your business succeed, not only because you loathe to go back to your day job but because you thrive on the freedom, control and purpose of running your own business.
Phil Knight (co-founder of Nike) went to great lengths to secure US distributor rights of Onitsuka Tigers (this was way before Nike was created).
He flew to Japan with nothing but a book how to to do business with the Japanese.
But his passion for running and shoes made him push forward despite running on an empty tank (His cash flow is close to zero as he reinvest everything back into the business).
Independence – A double-edged sword
Being an entrepreneur means you are your own boss.
You call all the shots and you and only you are responsible for every, single decision.
You have to trust your instincts and be able to stomach rejections and hurdles, all on your own.
Having freedom and independence means you need to be persuasive and responsible.
Whether it be potential clients, lenders, partners or employees, you will need to enjoy engaging new people with ease and make compelling arguments to help make your idea succeed.
Being your own boss also means you will have to be able to negotiate well to save you money and run your business smoothly.
Remember, you will need to make decisions on everything from your office lease, contract terms to fees, which means negotiating will be a big part of your job scope.
Being creative and thinking on your feet
Creativity is essential to be a successful entrepreneur.
You will need to conjure up new ways to solve problems, develop new ideas and plans to seize exciting opportunities.
Creative time management will also be crucial.
Being an entrepreneur means you will essentially be on call, 24/7.
That means you have to be creative in structuring your day so that the job doesn’t become all-consuming and you have time to spend with your loved ones.
After all, that is usually a big part of why people decide to start up their own business.
One of the way I overcome this is to schedule everything, including thinking time. This is something I learned from a post by Jeff Weiner.
An abundance of creativity will not only help you solve problems but also boost your confidence.
And confidence is the backbone of success for entrepreneurs.
Scary as your business venture may be, it will be confidence that keeps your ship sailing in the right direction when adverse conditions hit.
Support network and community
Before you quit your day job to start your own business, make absolutely sure that you have a strong support system in place.
Doing business means you will constantly need to make decisions and you will need people around you who care, to help guide you when you feel overwhelmed.
Family, loved ones and friends will be your rock.
They’ll be the one to support you, especially in the first months of launching your business.
But also be prepared for negative feedback.
Some of them may feel uncomfortable about you “abandoning” a perfectly good day job.
And it may even seem like some of them are holding you back from realising your dream.
No matter how much (or little) support you have from your family and friends, you will also need to seek out at least one business mentor.
Someone who is experienced, successful and is willing to give you guidance and solid advice.
Starting a business doesn’t have to be like reinventing the wheel.
Seek help from the right business mentors and they will help you navigate these new waters.
NTUC U Future Leaders organises mentorship sessions such as this one with Pizza Hut’s CMO.
Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing also recently announced that NTUC is organising Innovation Exchanges to innovation labs of MNCs, to connect working people with the latest innovation insights and know-how.
From these sessions, you can connect with and engage key innovators in roundtable sessions on identifying and managing potentially disruptive innovations. There are 4 sessions available for registration here.
Ready to take the plunge?
So how did you do? If you’ve answered “yes” to the above questions, you’re already starting on a solid footing to establishing a successful business.
It is a scary thing to take a path less travelled by, for sure.
But you must remember that every successful business started out with one person, believing in their idea and taking a risk.
Apple started out in the garage of Steve Jobs’ childhood home in suburban California.
Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University to start Microsoft with his friend, Paul Allen.
And KFC was founded by Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression.
You may be an outlier because you are choosing this path but so were all the business leaders who have built massive enterprises.
With courage, confidence and perseverance (and some guidance and luck), you’ll be able to make your business a success!
[reminder]What other aspects do you need to think about before leaping into entreprenuership?[/reminder]
This is part of my 10-part series that I originally published on The New Savvy