You’ve heard this buzzword “entrepreneur” thrown around from the startup world to overhearing one of your distant cousin’s latest career bends. It sparked your curiosity enough to land on this article and give it a try for yourself, but do you really know what being an entrepreneur is all about?
An entrepreneur is someone who understands the big risk and yet still takes the initiative to turn their unique idea into a reality. This kind of person isn’t looking for a comfortable, stressless lifestyle. They are willing to take on a major life change, and one that won’t be easy. It will be exciting though, as there are many twists and turns that no rollercoaster ride can compare to.
If you have butterflies in your stomach when hearing this - and in a good way - keep on reading to learn how to become an entrepreneur, from coming up with an idea to creating an app in order to promote it and more.
How to become an entrepreneur
The following ten steps can be used as your personal checklist for setting yourself up for success. From being in the right headspace to creating value behind your business idea, here’s how to become an entrepreneur:
Decide if it’s the right fit for you
Choose an idea and educate yourself
Find your target audience
Plan and launch your business
Hire great partner(s)
Build your network
Test your idea
Plan your finances
Develop a strong brand
Create value in your market
1. Decide if it’s the right fit for you
Beyond this topic being the latest trend, the reality of being an entrepreneur is not necessarily swimming in a pool of cash or enjoying a surplus demand for your products and services. However, some of these known entrepreneurial perks are actually quite true, such as taking on a very high risk for hopefully equally as high of a reward, and running your career independently.
Considering you own priorities and personality type, see if these entrepreneurial skills resonate with you:
You are passionate about your idea and motivated to see it through.
You’re naturally a challenge-seeker.
You’re realistic and have a good idea about whether or not a business concept will be profitable.
You’re confident and fearless no matter what opinions others may have.
You’re resilient when it comes to your business and your personal emotions associated with it.
If you’re not quite ready to follow through with your plan, take it slow. There is no rush when it comes to completely changing your lifestyle. Instead, start with adjusting a tiny part of it at a time with one of these success-oriented habits. Then, when the time is right, you can come right back and pick up at step number two - we’ll be waiting for you!
2. Choose an idea and educate yourself
Choosing an idea for your business is all about setting yourself apart from others. Even if you decide to do something as straightforward as opening up a restaurant, it’s important to have your own twist on the concept. For example, you could call your business ‘Spice Street’ and offer the largest variety of hot sauces out of all of the other restaurants in town.
On top of finding your competitive edge, think about what it is that you really love doing. What passions in life are you able to focus on without feeling like you’re putting in the effort? Or another way of looking at it, what problems are you passionate - or nearly feel obligated - to solve. Such as, replacing the use of plastic straws with one built right into the cup (we’ll leave the creativity up to you here). Sticking to what you love, what you know best, and what you feel the world needs, is a recipe for success.
Beyond just being passionate or determined, it’s always necessary to educate yourself on the topic more. This could mean going back to school to get a degree, or just doing some Internet research by turning to one of your favorite blog’s 101 guides.
3. Find your target audience
Although an idea can sound genius in your head, before you pat yourself on the back, make sure that others are willing to pay for it. In fact, a big reason businesses fail is because there is no market need.
Taking some time to picture who your audience is will allow you to see the potential for profit. In addition, you will also be able to understand your clientele’s needs when it comes to marketing to them and providing them with what they are looking for in the best way possible.
Later on in the article we will speak about testing your idea and creating value. For now, you should just start to list out the characteristics that define your target audience by performing market research. What age range do they fall in? What are their hobbies? Where are they located? And so on.
4. Plan and launch your business
Take this step slowly, because there are many components to it. Planning and launching your business involves everything from building your concept and understanding it to actually turning your idea into a reality.
First you’ll want to get started with an organized business plan. This extensive document allows you to walk through all of the core components of your idea as in-depth as necessary, from your mission statement to your marketing and operations plan and more. Writing these down enables you to visualize your goals and understand how you plan on carrying them out.
Another very important document that functions both on its own and together with your business plan is your executive summary. When looking for partners, requesting funding, and giving a brief overview of your business, this report is absolutely essential.
After you’ve completed those documents, you might want to step away from this article to turn to a more technical resource filled with all of the administrative knowledge you need to do for your biz. This complete business guide runs through everything from coming up with a business name to choosing a structure and more.
5. Hire great partner(s)
Now that all of the administrative parts are behind you, you can get right back to business. However, it’s advised that you don’t do this alone. Flying solo is great, but having a partner to support you will help you see different challenges and opportunities that you might miss alone. Starting your own business can get lonely at times too. It’s nice to have a companion that completely understands first-hand what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis.
Did we convince you yet? If so, start thinking of the qualities you would like from a partner, and the people you know who possess them. Have a semi-planned speech when you reach out to your chosen potential partner to propose your idea of working together. And already having created your business plan will show them just how serious you are.
Beyond having a partner, it’s a great time to start thinking about the qualities you would look for in an entire team. This is known as company culture and it encompasses the entire personality and identity of the humans who make up your business. Even if you aren’t hiring them just yet, it’s still important to have these qualities in mind for when you do.
Such foresight will ensure that everyone on your team is focused on the same visions and gets along with each other personally and professionally. A fluid and in-sync company culture can determine whether or not your business is successful, so don’t underestimate its importance.
6. Build your network
Your team or partner offers a great support system, but you could use all of the help you can get, especially at this stage in your business. Mentors and other professionals who can provide you with value and guidance will always be worthwhile connections to have. This is especially true for working with them one-on-one, as it will provide you with more focused help.
The world of business is not a solitary journey, even if you choose to not have partners. Having people you can reach out to for things you simply don’t know yourself will help you understand your market better, and avoid missing opportunities or making costly mistakes. In this field you’re always learning, and one of the best ways to do so is through the help of experts.
You can certainly attend as many networking events, speaker series, fairs and expos as possible and relevant for you. On top of those, you can impress others in your industry by hosting your own networking events or creating an online forum community.
7. Test your idea
A trial period is important for gaging the interest around your product or service, and seeing where you can make improvements. In fact, you should treat this stage as if it’s the first step in selling your idea.
It’s an opportunity for you to begin engaging with your potential customers and get a first hand experience understanding how you can best serve them with your offerings. Getting their feedback here and taking it seriously is crucial to your success.
There are many ways to do so, whether that’s sending out samples, hosting focus groups, or working with individuals one-on-one. Figure out what best serves your product or service. For example, if you are selling something expensive, free samples will not be in your best financial interest. However, keep in mind that the more ways you can get your idea out into the hands of consumers, the more able you’ll be to build on your concept and create brand awareness.
8. Plan your finances
This might not be the most exciting step, but it is mandatory. Therefore, it’s a good idea to just dive into it focused and get it checked off your list in as timely of a manner as possible.
Begin by taking a look into the scope of your financials. How much do you need to support your business? Run through the costs of materials and production, supplies, hiring employees, promotion, office space, etc. Remember that you are new and you’re also potentially going to need to request the help of others, so make sure to keep your expenses as low as possible.
Once you have a good idea of how much funding you’ll need, check in with your own financial situation. How much of this are you able to sustain by yourself? Even if you do reach out to investors for help, showing that you personally took on the risk will not only impress them and make them more willing to support you, but will also help your own motivation by having skin in the game.
If after all this it still seems you need the help of investors, here’s a list of several ways to raise money for your business, such as taking out a loan, applying for a grant, or crowdfunding.
Once you have the funds, immediately open up a bank account. On top of emphasizing that serious mindset, it might also be mandatory that this account is separate from your personal one (depending on the business structure you file for). And also, once profits start coming in and expenses start coming out, you’ll be able to track everything in order to fulfill your small business accounting needs.
9. Develop a strong brand
The way that a vibrant green and black distinguish Spotify from its competitors or how Dove prides itself on promoting real women, a brand identity is present in both the most subtle and the most apparent ways.
Verbally, it’s comprised of your core values, language, employees, and customers. Aesthetically it involves your brand colors, font choices, logo and more. When used consistently and over time, these different components generate recognition and build trust amongst customers.
Implement your brand identity across all channels and assets related to your brand. First and foremost: your business app or website. When you make an app and a website, you’re building an online home for your brand. This is what customers mainly associate with you, and therefore you want to represent yourself on here in the best light. Whether you will offer bookings or an eCommerce store, or simply want to use this as a gate to direct customers to your brick and mortar shop via local SEO, you’re going to want to build it to the best of your abilities. That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to spend the money hiring a professional app or website designer though.
On top of your app and website, you'll also want to apply your identity to your social media branding. And if you have yet to get started, it’s about time to open up your social media accounts. Not sure which platforms are right for you? This social media guide will walk you through the ins and outs of the most popular channels and how to use them correctly for your business.
10. Create value in your market
Now that you have the right funnels for promotion between your app, website and social media accounts, and you’ve taken the time to test your idea - you’re ready to sell it.
For that to happen, you need to create value behind it. Give your customers a reason to choose you. Use the power of social media, your app and website to raise your voice and allow more people to hear you. Target them through catchy social posts, start a blog for sharing great content, and send out a beautiful newsletter and throw in some coupons.
In-person promotion shouldn’t be undermined for the strength it has too. You can give speeches and promote through word-of-mouth. If you’re going this route, you’ll want to fine-tune your elevator pitch to get your point across in as few words as possible.
Tips for success:
Beyond following a set of steps, know that the business world does not fall under a ‘by the book’ structure. There are obstacles which are unpredictable at all times. There is also more than one way of doing every possible thing. If you follow the most inspirational entrepreneurs, you’ve probably noticed that some went to university while some didn’t even graduate high school, or how some were creatives and others were more technical.
Nevertheless, the following tips are bound to keep people from all different whelms on the right track, including yourself:
Have trust in self
Establish confidence in yourself and your decisions
Work at a steady pace, slower than you think
Learn how to manage your time
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Become adaptable to the unexpected
Learn from your failures
Be unique, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach
Always prioritize your health