In a competitive world with tough economies and ever-changing industry landscapes, some individuals have stepped up, built disruptive businesses from the ground up and a name for themselves.
How were they able to do it?
Are they simply wired to become entrepreneurs, or are they just ordinary people with deeper commitments to what they do? Let’s examine how entrepreneurs set themselves apart, and how they are able to achieve success.
1. They are not afraid to take risks
To get their idea or invention out to the market, entrepreneurs are willing to take risks to make it happen. They don’t allow their fear of failure to stand in the way. Establishing a business is akin to a “leap of faith,” as entrepreneurs do not know with complete certainty whether their venture will be successful or not. Sometimes, they need to leave their comfort zones, such as dropping out of University or leaving their day job to get started. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs are not reckless and before making any drastic life changes, entrepreneurs consider their options carefully. They assess their reasons, and test the market for their idea. If the demand for their business is strong enough, they then proceed with necessary actions to establish the business. Once they commence, they also use strategies to manage risk such as lean start-ups or beta launches.
2. They act quickly on their ideas
Since entrepreneurs are not afraid to take risks, they take immediate action on their idea. People who go on to become successful entrepreneurs are said to be “effectual thinkers,” or they do not need to know the future to determine their plans. Instead, they will start out on what they know, and make the most out of new opportunities. They set out new and different goals as they go along, and are often flexible to changes.
3. They challenge regular products, processes and assumptions
Due to unlikely situations, entrepreneurs are able to identify opportunities for innovation or do something new. In 1979, a couple of years before desktops and laptops became mainstream, Steve Jobs realised that computers were the future for most of us after seeing a rough, graphical user interface being demonstrated at the research facility of Xerox in Palo Alto, California. This led him on a journey to start Apple, and create various devices that enhanced the user experience. Meanwhile, Sarah Blakely decided to create a woman’s undergarment known as Spanx after struggling to wear a pair of white pants comfortably. She cut off the feet from pantyhose to go with the pants, and from this her booming business was born.
4. They see money as an investment
Entrepreneurs view money as a resource that can be multiplied by investing it. Instead of spending it on material things, entrepreneurs use their money to make more. When Warren Buffett was young, he and a friend chipped in $25USD and bought a used pinball machine. Instead of playing with it, they placed it in a barbershop, and within months they were earning a regular income from it. They used their earnings to buy more machines, which then generated more profit.
5. They have a high level of confidence in their business
Entrepreneurs possess a high level of confidence, which allows them to pursue their ideas without hesitation. Essentially, they believe that their ideas are better than others, and they use this confidence to get investors and customers on-board with their business. When faced with challenging situations, entrepreneurs see these as opportunities. Because of their strong self-belief, they are not afraid in expanding the range of products and services that their company offers as they aspire for future growth. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, was able to diversify his business into airlines, mobile phones, media and more because of his confidence on the brand as well as on his ability to detect new opportunities in the market.
With these traits coupled with confidence and the willingness to take risks, entrepreneurs can effectively overcome doubts and are able to get their ideas off the ground, establishing a name for their business. However, launching a business is only the first step for the entrepreneur; making sure that it achieves success requires additional work. How can entrepreneurs ensure success?
Never accept defeat
In business, it is inevitable to encounter obstacles. Failure is likely to happen often and if you can embrace it and take the challenge on in reinvigorated ways, you are more likely to succeed in the long term. Before J.K. Rowling became a household name for the Harry Potter series, she experienced rejection several times from different publishers. She was divorced, and was too poor to afford a computer. She submitted typewritten versions to several publishers, only to be turned down. Finally, Bloomsbury agreed to take on her novel, which achieved widespread success.
Communicate your passion effectively
Your communication skills will enable you to win the hearts of investors and customers and get your message across. Improve your verbal and writing skills, and practice, practice, practice to effectively pitch your products/services to the world. With creativity, back your brand with a compelling story that is authentic and the ‘why’ to your journey as an entrepreneur, as this will entice more customers to engage with your business.
Find ways to improve your product/service delivery
To achieve continuous growth, you need to adopt strategies that will allow you to sell more of your products and/or services in the market. Thankyou, a social enterprise, was able to successfully expand its product range by rallying around its purpose. The business started out in 2008 by selling bottled waters, where every purchase would deliver one month’s supply of clean water to areas in need. In 2013, Thankyou announced that it would offer food and body care products. Similar to their original brand concept, purchase of Thankyou food products would provide food and long-term food support program for those in need, while sales of body care products would provide these regions with health and hygiene training. In addition, to establish a relationship with supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, they ran a unique social media campaign rallying widespread support for their products and putting pressure on the retailers to stock them, which ended successfully.
Seek out learning from others, such as mentors
Having the right mentors is important for your success. Good mentors can help you avoid making poor decisions; and provide you with feedback on business strategy as well as boost your confidence. They should have also experienced how it is to run a business and are often entrepreneurs themselves.
Mentors can give you direction in managing your finances, carrying out your marketing plans and fine-tuning your strategy. For those with large companies, you can benefit from having an advisory board, which can help you evaluate your business strategy to achieve long-term growth. Similar to a mentor, an advisory board can provide your company with guidance on expansion plans, exploring new markets or in seeking equity investments.
Build networks to enrich your business
With the right connections, you can gain access to strategic business alliances, find opportunities to drive sales or gain new information about your industry. Through different networks, you can get to know new investors, suppliers and even new customers. These may also provide you with more opportunities for partnerships, and provide additional growth. Furthermore, having the right connections can fuel the support and the motivation you need to keep moving forward.
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