Business starts by mucking around in the garage, at the kitchen table or, these days, perhaps on Youtube. When some entrepreneurs discuss their career, though, they often have one lie, “If I had known how hard it would be I would never have started.”
Top entrepreneurs do know, but they do it anyway.It is hugely popular to talk about being an entrepreneur, having your own business, not selling out to the corporate master that sucks your soul.Yet, what separates the winners from the losers? If you want to be an entrepreneur and run your own organization, you may want to answer these questions:
What’s your idea of achievement?
Are you doing the business because you know you’re good and you demand achievement or are you doing it to have a nice lifestyle?Many people really want a 9-5 type of job so they can play in the jazz band on Mondays, go to their kid’s soccer game, volunteer or whatever.That’s absolutely fine and there’s room for that both in organizations and for the self employed. But not at the top.The recent death of Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, reminds me of how her passion for products made without using animal testing and to benefit communities really did drive her business. In the end, her passion brought her money — not the other way around.
Could you do better working for someone else?
Many entrepreneurs with a great set of skills do not get to apply them because they are running around paying bills, writing PR releases, and filing for patents themselves.Engineers can create the best technology that never gets bought by a customer because it is simply too risky to award the project to a small, untested company. They would achieve more by going under the umbrella of a larger business that can protect their inventions with patents and take it to market faster through the sheer power of their brand.
How are you with cash flow?
In your business plan (here’s hoping you’ve got one) you make assumptions about money coming in and flowing out. Like a renovation project for your home, think about the pithy advice, “double the contractor’s estimate of the time and the cost.” That applies to business plans too. Don’t feel sheepish; nearly everyone has to use that formula when starting up their business.Entourage, the HBO show, features Ari Gold, who runs his own agency in Hollywood. Ari is the poster boy for entrepreneurs. He goes home to his wife, who constantly hounds him. “When are you going to make money? You said it would be breaking even by now.” Even as Ari closes a mega deal for his movie star, he still has to wait for the payment, and the cash flow gap is painful for him but entertaining for m3. You do not want to sweat into your favourite suit the way Ari does, nor do you want your spouse spitting mad at you. When you walk away from the $100,000 job, cash does become king.
Are you doing this for your ego?
Many top entrepreneurs put in seven days a week for 20 - 30 years in mundane businesses ignored by the media. The book The Millionaire Next Door researched the profile of these self-made business people, confirming that most were not in a glamorous industry such as Porter Airlines with their fabulous Pink Tartan designer uniforms adored by the media.
Does money matter?
Yes it does. You must charge for your work as you need to pay the bills. Otherwise you are not an entrepreneur, you are playing. The toughest skill is to convince someone to put their hand in their pocket and hand money to you. There are many government and business people who never experience doing this and underestimate how hard it is to achieve. Top entrepreneurs get clients to pay again and again for more and more.
Canada depends on entrepreneurs with passion (craziness) who put aside their predictable salary and 9-5 job to hire others and see if they can throw their lot into the global fray.
Let’s give entrepreneurs some respect.