The idea of becoming an entrepreneur can be terrifying. But what sets you apart from every other person with a dream? How can you prepare yourself to make this dream a reality?
Being your own boss. Sounds like music to your ears? Yeah, to me too. I would love to run my own business, control my own funds and dictate my own hours. That would be a dream come true. I was happily living in my own entrepreneur dream world until I witnessed my dad start his own company.
My dream world came crumbling down as I watched my dad and his two partners put in A LOT of time, effort and money into their new business venture. Not only did I witness this, but after chatting to other entrepreneurs, successful and starting out, I came to a huge realisation that while my daydreams may be true in the long-run, it initially starts off with a lot of effort, sacrifices and a slight loss of any form of social life.
What is an Entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is defined as someone who starts up their own business with financial risks in the hopes of profit. Or as some of our favourite entrepreneurs put it:
“Someone who is gatvol of something, thinks of an idea and then is crazy enough to solve that problem.” – Dominic Koenig, co-founder of Rooster
“Someone who is willing to risk what they value most in order to disrupt or make a significant change in an industry.” – James Kieser, co-founder of EduOne
“Someone that starts, organises and manages a business. Usually with considerable initiative and in spite of substantial risk.” – Edward Smuts, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
How do you Become an Entrepreneur?
To become an entrepreneur you need to have something to offer to people that they will WANT to spend money on. This means that you need to find a gap in a particular market and find a way to fill that gap. Or you need to find a problem area and find a solution that will fix this problem – a solution people will want to spend money on in order to make this solution a success.
“Find an idea you’re passionate about. It’s something that must get you out of bed early in the morning, ready to tackle the challenge. When times get tough – you’ll see the bigger picture because you love what you’re doing.” – Dominic Koenig, co-founder of Rooster
Once you’ve found the idea that will become your niche, you need a game plan to make these ideas and solutions a reality. You will need to believe in your idea and have the determination to make it come to pass.
Being an entrepreneur is not all fun and games – you will have to make some sacrifices along the way.
“Another huge key is sacrifice. Starting a new concept from the ground up requires immense commitment and you will have to give up a few things along the way if you want to succeed.” – Matthew Rockhill, Director at Fanport
“I decided not to take a job with Deloitte in London and put my CA career on the line to follow through with my idea.” – Dominic Koenig, co-founder of Rooster
It’s Okay To Be Scared – It Really Is
If I play around with the idea of starting my own business – I freak out slightly and dismiss the idea immediately. And that’s normal. Not everyone is made to be an entrepreneur – we’re just not wired in that way. That doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs don’t get scared. They definitely do. They just find the motivation, courage and determination to push through their fear.
I asked some entrepreneurs how scared they were out of 10, to assure you that fear is normal and CAN be overcome.
“20!!! However, the risk of starting a business in very tough market conditions seemed a lot less scary than the risk of getting stuck in a rut in the corporate world.” – Edward Smuts, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
“10. Taking the risk was one of the hardest things I have done, so much so that I had to be pushed into it. In hindsight, it was the best thing I could have ever done, next time it will be a 1!” – Matthew Rockhill, Director at Fanport
“7. It’s not the idea of failing that scares me. Failing is good – you learn a lot from it. I’m petrified of the fact that if I failed, I would have to fall back on my degree and get a mediocre corporate job.” – James Kieser, co-founder of EduOne
“5. It was scarier staying than it was leaving.” – Freek van Rensburg, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
As you can see, pretty much everyone experiences fear of failure and of loss when starting out on their own. However, they were motivated to push through this fear. They believed in what they were starting and they are doing everything they can take to make it a booming success and to not end up in the corporate world.
Some Tips For Motivation and (Potential) Success
Find a Partner and a Mentor
They can be the same person or you can have a separate mentor and partner. Having a partner will help when things get tough and it’ll help with innovation, following through and staying motivated to make your idea a reality. A mature and experienced mentor will be able to give you invaluable advice that will help you in numerous ways – including achieving success.
You need to hire people that believe in your idea, are willing to work hard to help you achieve success and add value to your team.
“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and know how to take initiative.” – James Kieser, co-founder of EduOne
“Pay your employees well and entrust them with the responsibility and authority to make decisions for their specific positions.” – Edward Smuts, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
Don’t be Afraid of Failure
In most start-ups and new business ventures – failure is inevitable. But failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Failure teaches you invaluable lessons that will only make you stronger in the future and more likely to succeed. As Edward Smuts says:
“Failure is not fatal.”
“Until you have a product, your company is nothing.” – James Kieser, co-found of EduOne
You need to have a set plan on how you’re going to achieve your goals. As a part of this plan you need to prioritise what is most important to make your company/product a success. Here is a piece of advice to make this easier:
“Start small and build it up slowly – don’t bite off too much at the start. Set up all of your systems at an early stage of your business.” – Freek van Rensburg, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
By setting your priorities, you can essentially start small and focus on the most important things first. By putting systems in place from an early stage, you will have less to stress about as you can rest assured knowing your systems are there to make transitions and processes smoother and easier.
Keep Your Overhead Costs as Low as Possible
Overhead costs are non-labour costs. Costs that you need to pay regardless of whether your business does well or not. Example: rent, salaries, etc. Dominic Koenig recommends reading the book “Lean Start Up” which gives various ideas on how to start a company at the lowest possible cost.
“Focus on ideas that are disruptive and scalable,” says Matthew Rockhill from Fanport.
By doing this, you will spend less money and make the best use of as little money as possible.
A Confidence Booster With Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology
Richfield puts most of their focus into building up students with a knowledge in computer-related fields and business. They offer a vast array of courses, some general and some more specialised qualifications, to build their students with the knowledge and skills to keep up with technology and to build a successful career.
They offer three short courses that all aim to supply their students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to start their own business. This will prepare you to be able to run your own business and will give you the know-how on how to turn your ideas into a reality.
This could be extremely useful to you and may give you some peace while taking a huge risk. Their three courses are:
Last Bit of Encouraging Advice
“Be kind to everyone who supports you, or whom you support. They might be the next person you need to continue with your business.” – Freek van Rensburg, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have learnt so much from others simply by being open to learn and willing to ask.”
– Matthew Rockhill, Director at Fanport
“Making a significant change in your targeted industry should be your primary focus. Making money from it should be your secondary focus. If your change is revolutionary, why wouldn’t people want to buy it?” – James Kieser, co-founder of EduOne
“Our country desperately needs entrepreneurs, people that are creative and innovate, out-of-the-box thinkers and leaders.” – Edward Smuts, co-founder of Mowana Engineers
Don’t be put off by the idea of working in a corporate world. Not everyone is wired to be an entrepreneur. I know I’m not. The entrepreneurs in this article have the mindset, characteristics and drive to make a success out their ideas. It’s okay to not be the same as them. The world needs people to be hired just as much as it needs entrepreneurs, the employees to work hard, believe in and implement their employers dreams and the employer to dream big, strategise making it a reality and to encourage their employees to grow their product and themselves in the process.
As Dominic Koenig says:
“We need more change makers in the world. Not more job takers.”
While you may assume this directly means entrepreneurship, you can be a change maker while being a job taker. But make sure the job you take contributes to making a definite change in your industry.