“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” –Unknown”

 

Entrepreneurs are people who risk the shirt on their back to create a product or service and bring it to market.  They defy naysayers and actually see potential where there is seemingly none; they will not leave any stone unturned to bring their vision to fruition.

In Ayn Rand’s world, entrepreneurs are the thinkers of society.  They actually create something of value instead of simply being the ‘worker bee’.  Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerburgare not only names that bombard our conscious stream of thought, their successes nurture the American Dream for untold number of people – that if you focus on your goals, use your creativity and work hard, you also can attain the luxury of being financially independent even if you were not born with a silver spoon.

The reality is that only 1 out of 10 business ventures will succeed.  Whether you are prepared for it or not, your journey will be wrought with uncertainty, loss of relationships (professional or personal) and financial insecurity.  In face of such impediments, how do you draw the strength to press on?

 

Faith & Story

You have to have unparalleledfaith in your product and vision,believe that it creates real value in the market, meeting a real need in your target customers.   You have to believe that you are that visionary that sees a pattern in the broader scheme of things others have missed and you see a path to translate that pattern to the market.  Armed with this faith, you have to become incredibly articulate in how you tell your story of what is your product, why is it worthwhile and how is it different than possible substitutes.  Both of these assets combined will give you the utmost confidence to continue to go out there and chip away at apparent obstacles.

 

Network, network, network

Anything requires an environment in which to survive and thrive.  For an entrepreneur, that environment is created with the people you surround yourself with.  Starting from a coach to your investors to the team you create, you have to have an uncanny intuition for understanding human potential and matching it to the skill sets you require for growing your business.  Be courageous about finding as many people as you can to pitch your story to and often you will get the best advice, and investment, from the most unlikely quarter(s).  Make sensible connections.  Just because you have 500+ connections on your linkedin profile does not mean that you know more than 500 relevant people for your business.  Astute individuals will see through blatant opportunistic behavior.  Be earnest in your desire to learn and share and you will be surprised with how willing fellow human beings are to help you reach your goals.  This includes the team you will need to build for your business.  Try to embrace people who have the necessary skill sets and bring an honest work ethic. That said, you should be prepared to be burnt by teammates with a weak moral code.  Do not let that dishearten you.  Just because there are a few rotten apples does not make the whole barrel disposable.  There are more good people out there than bad.

 

WIIFY

The crux of business growth is the ability to broker deals that are a win-win for both your customer and you.  To be able to do this successfully as an entrepreneur, you should train yourself to always be able to answer the WIIFY question – “What’s in it for you”?  - for both parties at the negotiating table.  You are both managing risks albeit in different dimensions.  Listen carefully and be cognizant of your customer’s concerns.  It will help you build solutions that will lay the foundation for sound business practices.  It will build trust with your customer and will validate your reason(s) for being in the market.  There is very little that is more empowering for an entrepreneur than the excitement in your customer’s eyes.

 

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.  There are many costs involved and at the end of day majority of us will have to quietly fold our hand.  But without our fortitude, many great ideas would remain just that – ideas.  Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Rockerfeller – all took unimaginable risk to build their empires and the one fundamental ingredient that held them together is ‘conviction’.  Be true to yourself and your passions, and what you go on to achieve may only be limited by your imagination.

 

-- © Copyright 2011, Maheen Hamid

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