Entrepreneurship and owning your own business
Almost everyone it seems at one time or another has wanted to control his or her destiny. Generally, that means choosing a lifestyle that suits you, choosing where to live, what to own, when to work and with whom, and reasons why it all makes sense to be the boss of yourself.
When you are the boss, nothing is preconditioned with having someone else tell you what to do, when to do it, how much you are going to earn, and even during tough times, you are the only one that decides if your job is still viable. Everyone likes to see success for all self-employed entrepreneurs, because the subtle message is that “if they can accomplish this goal, so can you!”
Ownership means empowerment. When you are the boss of you, having a job that you like and that can reward you, and with almost infinite business choices, it sounds absolutely wonderful. How could it not?
Your ideas, your products or services, your working hours, you are in ultimate control.
In every economy, the words innovation and entrepreneurship are often advocated by politicians, particularly, with even our own Premier offering financial encouragement to local start-ups. It’s good mantra.
Just perusing major media at our nearest North Atlantic pond neighbours, political parties and leaders of all persuasions evoke the qualities of entrepreneurs and their contributions to economies. They tout accomplishments and successes, as if their particular party was the innovator, but truth is — small businesses are the life blood of every economy.
It takes a special individual to want to control their own future.
Neil Patel, the brilliant author of 30 Ways to Become a More Successful Entrepreneur, is the co-founder of NP Digital and Subscribers.
The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognised as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
I’ve paraphrased some of his ideas here and encourage you if you are thinking of “making it on your own” to have a good read.
1, Gritty is perseverance
2, Challenge yourself
3, Be passionate. If you don’t love what you do, don’t do it
4, Take risks, but know which are worth taking — and their outcome
5, Trust yourself. You must believe and have confidence in yourself
6, Reduce fear
7, Visualise goals and achieving success
8, Hire great partners, this comes with a real caveat
9, Act. Successful entrepreneurs act, not talk.
10, Spend time. Put in the time to reach success. 25 per cent of start-ups fail in the first year. Thirty-five per cent of those remaining will fail in the second year. Forty-four per cent of the remaining 40 per cent after two years will fail in the third year — don’t be one of them. Cashflow is critical among other items, to be discussed next week.
11, Plan your finances
12, Know who is your customer
13, Listen to complaints
14, Exceed expectations
15, Manage risks
16, Read case studies
17, Self promote
18, Set a company culture
19, Network, network, network
20, Learn and create
21, Deliver, don’t sell
22, Baby steps
23, Put everything on your calendar
24, Exercise. What a surprise — if you don’t know, you should. Exercise is a great brain enhancer and stress reliever.
26, Take time off
28, Fail. Know the worst case scenario and plan for it.
29, Get inspired
30, Help others. When you help someone, they will likely find a way to help you. Helping others is also a great way to build a loyal and supportive network around you.
Successful entrepreneurs help the people they meet.
I know of what I write, having counselled many clients in my professional practices, both in Bermuda and the United States.
I absorbed lessons many years ago from my father who owned a tiny sewing machine repairs and sales business on Wesley Street in Bermuda. He worked incessantly, sometimes fruitlessly, to keep larger competition from heavily discounting to erode his customer base. Every person who came to his shop was valued; no one was ever turned away, he built valued relationships going the extra mile for every, single customer. He offered terms and payment plans before many competitors, along with lots of business and religious advice as well.
The stress of being the single breadwinner in the family during tough times was seriously detrimental to his health; he worried constantly about cash flows; he was always tired, uncommunicative, and had little leisure time to relax and enjoy life.
So, under today’s enchanting guidelines, was he a successful entrepreneur? Yes, for his time. I had tremendous respect for his work ethic, but readers, that was not enough even given his large loyal customer base.
Consumer tastes changed. Family dynamics changed, both mom and pops were working outside the home. Everyone wanted store-bought clothing and other goodies, plus items were now China mass-produced and cheap. No one wanted to take valuable time home-sewing. Our dad would not have been able to stave off handmade obsolescence, but in any event, fortunately, he had retired.
A word of caution, and no reflection on Mr Patel, but there are many more items to plan for in order to bring a fully integrated business into successful operation.
We will focus on those next week. Now readers, you know I was going to do that because there are four important things that also drive a new business, and of course, necessary financial assessments.
• Traffic flow
• Consumer trends and obsolescence
Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is creator of Pondstraddler Life Financial Perspectives, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Ltd Bermuda, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds from these articles are donated by The Royal Gazette to the Salvation Army, Bermuda.
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