Being an entrepreneur is no cakewalk.
20% of businesses fail within their first year. 50% won't make it to 5 years. Barely a third will make it to the 10 year mark.
In fact, it's rare to find a successful entrepreneur who hasn't had multiple failed businesses.
And that's actually great news, because it means you don't need to get it right the first time to be successful.
That said, why fail your way to success when you can learn from other people's failures?
In this guide, we're going to giving a framework we've developed while working with over 10,000 aspiring entrepreneurs.
Following this plan will help you spend less time learning from failure and more time learning from your own success.
Let's get started.
What Does It Take To Be An Entrepreneur?
You don't have to start the next big social media network or run a multi-million dollar eCommerce store to be a successful business owner. Entrepreneurs work in a variety of industries and represent a diverse group of large and small-scale businesses.
However, there are a few personality traits commonly associated with flourishing entrepreneurs.
Running your own business and leading a team is not something to take lightly. Entrepreneurs are dedicated to the success of their company and want to ensure they're doing everything they can to sustain or grow the business. They recognize that it's ultimately up to them to see their vision become a reality.
Entrepreneurs believe in their product or service as well as in themselves. Having the conviction to make those tough decisions that can make or break a business, as well as standing up for what they deserve, is a defining characteristic of a prosperous business owner.
Successful entrepreneurs are continually coming up with their next best idea and figuring out how to make it profitable. Entrepreneurs see a problem or hole in a market and want to develop a way to fix it. Thinking outside the box and coming up with new solutions, whether it be for the company as a whole or a way to better serve their customers is the mark of a true entrepreneur.
All else aside, entrepreneurs are passionate about the work they do. Every decision and move is stemmed from that love for their product, audience, and company. Passion is what keeps business owners going when things get tough and the driving force behind their success.
Even if you don't possess all of these traits, that doesn't mean you can't adopt those qualities or become the business owner you wish to be. Much of entrepreneurship requires a learn-as-you-go mentality, which only makes you better as you gain experience.
By learning from your mistakes and putting those characteristics into practice every day, you will develop into a successful entrepreneur before you know it. It doesn't come without work, though, which you must be willing to do to see your desired results.
With that being said, if this sounds like the career path for you, keep these things in mind as you start to plan:
- Are you financially able to start your own business at this time?
- Can you hold yourself accountable for your work and exercise self-discipline?
- Is your business idea viable?
Entrepreneurship is a major undertaking, so it's important to make sure you're set up for success or at least have the financial padding to endure those inevitable growing pains. The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it isn't a one-size-fits-all career path. You get to decide how things are done, when they are done, and why.
Read on to learn about how you can embrace your entrepreneurial mindset and take your career into your own hands.
1. Define Your Business
Before you can step into the role of an entrepreneur, you need to figure out what you're going to do! The term "entrepreneur" is pretty broad, so don't be afraid to explore several business model options, industries, niches, products, and services.
It's important to choose something you're passionate about in an industry you love. As we mentioned above, entrepreneurship is tough work, and you'll need to eat, sleep and breathe the industry you're in—so choose something that will keep your interest and make you happy. If you're doing something you love, it'll be a lot easier to weather the storms that come with owning your own business.
Not sure where to start? Reflect on your past and current work experience. What do you love about your current job, or what did you admire about a past role that might translate into a new business venture?
Is there anything you've always wanted to learn but never had the chance to? Maybe your new business opportunity is something you need to learn from scratch first.
For example, if you've always wondered what it would be like to be a web developer, it's worth exploring that route by taking classes, researching what web developers do daily, and learning all you can about the field. Even if you have virtually no experience in an industry, that doesn't mean you have to rule it out.
Do some digging and ask yourself if there's a way to take what you love to do and make it into a viable business. If not, can it be modified in any way to make it an option?
One of the great things about entrepreneurship is that as your business grows, you can make changes to align your business with your goals. For example, if you start a consulting company and realize you only want to work with small businesses, you can begin to make choices that will make that dream a reality. As a result, your company may look entirely different in a year, five years, or even ten years from when you start.
Once you know what your business will be, define who your target audience is and what problem of theirs you're solving with your product or service. This will guide you in all aspects for your business from making significant decisions to developing your product and establishing your prices.
2. Establish Your Unique Selling Proposition
After you've figured out who you're serving and what you're offering, you need to determine what separates you from your competition.
Called a unique selling proposition (USP) or your value proposition, this unique quality is a crucial component to how you sell your business to customers or clients. With your USP, you are showing potential clients what makes you different from the others, and as a result, that you are the better option.
Regardless of how saturated the industry you choose to work in is, having a USP makes it easy for customers and clients to see why they need to do business with you. When forming your USP, it helps to define not only what you're selling, but why you are the obvious choice for your customers and clients.
Perhaps your USP is your years of experience in a particular industry, your passion for something, or a unique skill set you have. Figure out what you can provide that your competition does not or cannot and go from there. If you're not sure where to start, make a list of your strengths and how you can implement those into your products or services.
Depending on the nature of your industry, there may be better ways to position yourself that resonates with your audience. For example, if you're a content writer, emphasizing that you're keen on producing quality SEO-driven blog posts instead of fluffy, clickbait-y articles, can help you stand out. Or if you're a financial consultant, highlighting your ability to translate complicated money matters into actionable advice for your clients will immediately set you apart.
Take a page from the gourmet ice cream company that started with a humble beginning, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
Jeni's is about more than just making the best ice cream on the block; they are about creating a community shrouded in both art and the best ingredients around. They want to do more than serve ice cream; they want to inspire people to create and connect. These qualities are clearly stated not only in their USP but throughout all their branding and marketing efforts.
After you've established your USP, make sure you work it into different areas of your business. What do we mean by that? Well, there are several ways to weave your USP into everything from your website copy and portfolio to your new business pitch and your quality of work. It's not enough to explain why you are the better choice; you must demonstrate it in every component of your business.
You may be thinking, "Do I really need to go through this exercise?" and the answer is most definitely yes. As an entrepreneur, your gateway to financial security and a better client roster is by identifying why you are unique and how you use that to solve problems and adapt to changes. Read: Your USP is a concise way of explaining why you are an invaluable asset.
3. Create A Business Plan
Think of your business plan as an all-encompassing roadmap of your business. Your business plan is an essential component that will act as your guide as you kick things off. A concrete business plan includes all the details related to your business, from the ins and outs of your product or services to your contact information.
However, the level of detail required in your business plan depends on how you're going to use it. If you're planning on funding your business yourself, you may not need to spend a ton of time etching out specific details—unless you want to, of course. Whereas if you're planning on applying for a loan from a financial institution, you will likely have to provide more in-depth information.
Every plan will look different, but there are a few things all solid business plans should have, including:
Business summary: This should detail what your business is, what your products or services are, and who they serve and why. As we mentioned above, how detailed this section needs to be will depend on whether or not you seek financial backing.
Strategy: This section of your business plan includes your goals, actionable steps on how you're going to reach those goals, as well as corresponding important dates and milestones.
USP: Your USP helps guide your decision making as well as other areas of your business. The other components of your business plan should align with your USP and vice versa.
Target audience: Who are you selling to or servicing and why? Including developed audience personas in this section to refer back to may be helpful.
Budget and financial information: Add any information regarding your budget, investments, and pricing to your business plan. It's important to keep this information on hand to ensure you are on track and don't overspend.
It's a great idea to create your business plan early—some may argue that you literally could not run a business without one—as it gives you the chance to identify any flaws in your business or verify if your idea is viable. The time you spend creating your business plan can also help you develop segments that need a little more thought or outlining.
4. Build A Marketing Strategy
You've established what your business is, what makes it unique, and have a firm grasp of what your business looks like from the inside out, now you need to make some noise about it.
Coming up with a strategic, well-thought-out marketing plan will not only ensure your efforts are most effective but that you're not wasting any of your time on things that don't work.
Understand your target audience
To create the most effective plan, it's worth investing in a bit of research, whether you pay someone to find this for you or you go out and do it on your own. This way, you can figure out how best to reach your audience as well as their buying habits, problems, worries, and needs. You need to understand your customer from the inside out to effectively reach them with your marketing.
Know your competitors
Understanding what your competitors are doing to market themselves can not only inspire your efforts, buthelp you figure out what not to do. Identify your top competitors and analyze what they're doing that works and what doesn't work. In addition to that, from your competitor analysis, you can discover ways to fill in gaps, which will work in your favor
Pinpoint your channels
Once you have a deep understanding of who your audience is and their behavior, identify the best ways to reach them—and there are quite a few to choose from including:
- Paid ads
- Social media advertising
- Email marketing
- Online forums and groups
Testing different marketing avenues and platforms is a great way to see what works for your unique audience. But that doesn't mean you should try every channel available or that you should invest in something because you feel like you have to. Consider what makes the most sense for your business whether that's Facebook and Instagram ads, a newsletter, or even a podcast.
Without a solid marketing strategy, it will be difficult for your customers to find you and vice versa. Start with a plan and make changes once you start to figure out what resonates best with your audience and produces optimal results.
5. Listen To Your Customers & Clients
Listening to feedback from your clients or customers can help guide you on how to grow as a business and learn how to improve your product.
Customer and client feedback can also help you identify what's working for your business as well as what's not working, which you may not have known if it weren't for this feedback!
Your customers or clients are vital to your business (and determine if you're in business), so providing the best customer service, whether that means improving your product or refining your customer service experience altogether, should be a top priority.
Furthermore, it's essential to maintain positive relationships with your customers and clients. Satisfied customers are much more likely to make a purchase again at a higher rate than customers who don't feel a connection with you and your business.
In fact, the odds of selling to an existing customer is between 60-70%, whereas the likelihood of selling to a new customer is merely between 5-20%. Of course, it's essential to attract new customers, but leaving current customers in the dust means leaving money on the table.
6. How To Be An Entrepreneur: Never Stop Learning
The final step on our list might just be the most important.
When you are an entrepreneur, the buck stops with you. Either you do it yourself or it doesn't get done.
This is why ongoing learning and mastery are so important. If you aren't committed to ongoing learning, you won't make it far as an entrepreneur, freelancer, or independent consultant.
And the further you grow your business, the more even minor revelations can have profound effects on your business.
For example, one of our students was able to double his monthly revenue from a simple suggestion in our Consulting Accelerator that recommended switching from a la carte services to service packages. He was already making great money before, but he invested in learning and it paid off massively!
Another one of our students was already making $130k per month and she chose to continue learning, purchased our course, and is now doing $830k per month!
Successful entrepreneurship is about adapting, evolving, and learning.
You might fail the first time or the first 20 times, but if you learn from your failures, each one contributes to your eventual success.
If, however, you want to give yourself a shortcut and try to skip as many failures as possible, click below to check out our premium course, completely free, and test drive the system 3,000 of our students used to quit their jobs and become successful entrepreneurs.