Elon Musk. Richard Branson. Mark Cuban. Names synonymous with different things to different people, but the most common one is probably *entrepreneur*. These are people who have a knack not only for business, but for idea generation, and more importantly, seeing those ideas through. Starting a business isn’t all fun and games; launching a million-dollar start-up is even more intense.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It takes a visionary, a risk taker, and planner, all rolled into one (or, at least one of those with the self-awareness to know that they need to hire out the other skills). Paul Brown is a Forbes contributor who's spent decades studying successful and not-so-success start-ups. This is his advice for those looking to start their own business.
1. Choose where you want to spend your time--and choose wisely.
There are limited hours in a day (obviously). Of your waking hours, only so many can be dedicated to the energy and focus necessary to building a business. In short, you can’t do everything. So choose where to spend your time and attention, and know that everything that comes forward, you will have to progress through this area.
2. Work-life balance is a myth for entrepreneurs in start-up mode.
(And a true entrepreneur at heart is ALWAYS in start-up mode). We’re not endorsing that lifestyle, but it being another common denominator in successful entrepreneurs that Brown and others have documented can’t be ignored.
3. The best entrepreneurs solve market needs.
Anyone can come up with good ideas, but successful initiatives need to solve a problem or satisfy a need. It’s the secret sauce that fuels the passion we associate with the most successful entrepreneurs; they’re driven to bring forth the idea into reality.
4. Take action now.
Nothing happens if you spend your days binging on Netflix. Stop thinking and start bringing your ideas into the world, whether it requires a prototype, a business plan or finding a dedicated partner, take the first steps.
5. To be successful, you will need to give up control.
As mentioned above, it’s a rare soul who can do everything required to make a business run. As you grow, be aware of reaching a point where, if everything has to go through you, YOU become the bottleneck and hinder further success. Find someone to take on those other roles to which you can’t dedicate yourself. Create an advisory board that’s smart and from whom you can take direction.
6. Learn from your market and your mistakes.
If people like your product, they’ll buy it. If they don’t, they’ll let you know what they don’t like about it. Listen to that feedback and figure out how to pivot or reconfigure. Most importantly? Know when a product is salvageable and when to just accept the failure.
Entrepreneurship is exciting and rewarding, but make no mistake: it’s work. It’ll force you to get to know your best and worst sides, but you’ll come out the other end a better, more rounded person if you do it right. Creativity and innovation are great hobbies, but they have to be tied to a business objective to really make any money.