Are you thinking of taking the big plunge and going into business for yourself? Do you think you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur? I was recently contacted by a first year business student who had to go out and interview three entrepreneurs as part of a class assignment. He had to ask them three questions. If you are looking to go into business for yourself I thought you might be interested in my answers. I have had the good fortune of being self-employed since 1998. Starting and running your own small business is not for the faint of heart. Matter of fact – in a recent Industry Canada study conducted by Eileen Fisher, Schulich School of Business, York University and Rebecca Reuber, Rothman School of Management, University of Toronto, concluded that thirty percent of all new small businesses won’t survive longer than two years, and only half make it to year five. Some of the reasons for those failures are out of your control, but most are because of the bad decisions you will make. Lack of management or financial skills are in the top five.
Here are my answers to his three questions. I hope it will give you some valuable insight into what it will take to be a successful entrepreneur.
1 – What made you decide to own your own small business? I had managed other people’s businesses for a number of years, with the idea that I wanted to own and operate my own small business some day. Being my own boss appealed to me. It proved to be a great training ground for me. I got to learn what to do, and more importantly, what not to do. The best part was I got to make those mistakes on someone else’s dime. I recommend that to anyone looking to start their own small business. Work for someone else until you’ve learned enough to start your own.
2 – What are five key characteristics that you feel are important to have to be a successful entrepreneur? I believe there are a number of key characteristics you need to be successful. Some you will do well, others you will need to learn. Here are my top five. I’ve listed them here in no particular order.
- Time Management: Be able to manage your time well. Learn to prioritize what needs to be done so that you do the most important things first. Sometimes that will mean doing things you don’t like to do. We tend to spend our time on things that we enjoy doing or that we are good at. Be disciplined enough to complete your “A” item before you work on your “B” or “C”.
- Open Mindedness: You only know what you know – you don’t know what you don’t know – and it’s what you don’t know that could hurt you. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – and be smart enough to take it. That’s how we learn.
- Empathetic: Be able to see things from another person’s point of view. People make mistakes. The important thing is how you react to them.
- Communicate: You must be able to communicate in a way that others will understand. If you can’t communicate both by the written word and verbally, then you stand little chance of being understood.
- Goal Setting: Being successful is a planned event. Put a plan together to accomplish your goals. Great plans start with the end in mind. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and then put a plan together to get there. However, you need to be flexible enough to change or adjust your plan, if it isn’t going to help you achieve your goal.
3 – If you could start your business over again, what one thing would you do differently? That’s a tough question because struggles are part of the learning process. If you aren’t making mistakes you aren’t learning anything new. There are some valuable lessons to be learned from the mistakes you make. The one thing I would do over again is to be more disciplined in managing the money side of the business. That old saying “it takes money to make money” is true. But you have to make the money before you spend the money. I would put together a realistic budget and then stick to it. Projections are just that – projections. They are a best guess. However, projections don’t pay the bills or more importantly, they don’t pay you.
Copyright 2016 (c) Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian is a former Professor at Algonquin College’s School of Business, Top 100 Leadership Expert, Author and Speaker. To find out more about Brian and what you can do for you and your organization visit https://briansmithpld.com
Have you ever met someone for the very first time and thought, “Oh, yuck – What a dink? And I don’t mean double income no kids. You didn’t know why – you just knew there was something about them that you didn’t like. But, after you spent some face time with them, and you got to know them better, did you ever change your mind? Building relationships and establishing mutual respect with the people you work with and interact with, is crucial to your overall success. (Not to mention your sanity).
You have two choices; You can either learn to get along with them – or you can dis-associate yourself from them. If it is someone you have to work with. or interact with. then you’ll have no choice but to learn how to get along with them. You don’t have to socialize with them outside of official company functions and you don’t have to go to the local watering hole after work and buy them their favorite beverage, but you will need to learn how to coexist.
If it is someone in your social circles and it won’t impact your relationship with your other friends. then just walk away. You get to pick and chose who you want to hang around with. There aren’t any rules that say you have to like everyone.
Three Steps To Establishing Those All Important Relationships
Step One: Establish Rapport – Find out something about them that they like. Do they have a hobby? What do they like to do in their spare time? You need to be able to carry on a conversation with them on a subject that they enjoy talking about. Once you get them talking about the things they like – you’ll learn everything you need to know about them to move on to the next step.
Step Two: Develop a Relationship. You can’t develop a relationship with anyone you haven’t established rapport with first. People like to hang around and work with people they like. The more that you interact with them, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to develop a relationship with them. Be patient. This step takes time. Keep at it. Trust me – they will eventually start to open up to you.
Step Three: Build Respect – No one respects anyone that they haven’t developed a relationship with first. Some people will move through this three-step process quicker than others, but it’s a process we all need to go through. If you have navigated the three-step process successfully you will have established mutual respect. They may not agree with everything you say or do but they will agree that you have the right to say it. Respect is reciprocal. You get what you give. If you treat someone with respect. eventually you will get it in return.
Try this 3-step process the next time you have to go along with someone to get along. Some have to work at it – for others it comes naturally. Give it a go – Let me know how it works out.
Copyright (c) 2015. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Looking for a speaker or workshop facilitator who can inform and entertain on a variety of soft-skills topics? To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you, your people and your organization visit http://briansmithpld.com – You’ll be glad you did.
We have all experienced heart ache, disappointment and tasted defeat at some point in our lives. As painful as they might be, they are all part of life. They are all part of the process. If you aren’t happy with the way things have turned out so far, you have the power within you to change it. You have a choice. You can let your past dictate your future or, you can change the here and now. You can live a deliberate life. You can live the kind of life that you envisioned for yourself. Your life is the result of the choices you’ve made. If you want to change your life – make different choices.
Worth Remembering … “The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment.” – Eckhart Tolle
Where would you rather be, than where you are right now? What would you rather be doing, then what you are doing right now? What career would you rather have, then the career you have right now? I want you to take a moment and write it down on a blank piece of paper. What will you need to do to make that happen? I want you to write all those things down that need to fall into place. (Things like; I need to get a car, move to another city , go back to school, get a better paying job so I can save some money. What ever you need to do to accomplish your life’s goal, I want you to write it down)
Worth Remembering … “I am a firm believer in goal setting. Step by step. I can’t see any other way of accomplishing anything” – Michael Jordan
Congratulations! – You’ve just taken your first step. Now take each one of those things that need to happen and break them down into baby steps. Remember – “Anyone can eat an elephant one bite at a time”. The only difference between those that realize their full potential and those that don’t – are the ones who are willing to put in the time and effort and do the heavy lifting. If you are willing to do that, then there will be nothing that can stop you from accomplishing what you set out to do. You will fall down, you will feel like giving up, but I promise you – if you hang in there and keep working your plan, you will realize your goals. The only thing standing in your way is you. Are you ready to answer the “why not me” question? I hope so.
Copyright (c) 2015. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Are you looking for a key-note speaker or facilitator who can deliver an informative and entertaining session on a variety of soft-skills topics? Brian will work with you to insure your event is an overwhelming success. Visit http://briansmithpld.com