I have been wanting to put my thoughts down in writing about entrepreneurship for some time. So I finally muscled up the courage to do so in a series of articles label as the aspiring entrepreneur. I would consider myself to be a aspiring entrepreneur with very few cuts and bruises that comes along with the experience. I haven’t quit my job to direct all my time into a business opportunity, leveraged my family’s home to finance a start-up or burned up reserves while I hit the road in pursuit of clients. I never put my self in that position to find out if I would succeed or fail.
So, am I really an entrepreneur or just an aspiring entrepreneur? Do I need to experience putting it all on the line to be one? Answering such a question with “It depends” doesn’t come with too much fanfare. Perhaps we can look at an what makes an person an artist. First one has to want to be an artist. Second, one has to be able to be able to do something artistic, whatever that may be. For me I would say that person is in fact an artist. Using that logic as a baseline I would imagine I could be considered an entrepreneur. It depends on who you asked.
I aspire to be a successful entrepreneur. I have taken on a efforts and built solutions that solved a problem. I specifically worked on a solution around line of business pain points. I was able to build tools and value added products, even developed a story around the solutions to help market and describe the problem it would solve. It seems that I have hit all of the main bullet points, except for my failure to market it.
This is Where I Fall Short as Aspiring Entrepreneur
I am a technologist and a problem solver. So my first instinct when working towards any effort is how to make something better. A marketing plan and sales strategy usually takes a back seat when I start off a project. My biggest problem is failing to following through with non technical tasks. I would say the experience is analogous with asking someone out on a date. You want to be prepared and give your self the best possible opportunity to get a yes. So you prepare your approach, how you are going to break the ice, perhaps have a joke ready to lighten the mood and, of course, how to ask the question. This is the difference between casual entrepreneurs and determined/driven entrepreneurs.
Putting yourself out there can make a person vulnerable, just like taking that leap to ask that person out on a date. Anything and everything you do doesn’t mean a thing unless you have the courage to ask the tough question. For me this was difficult when it came to going to market with an idea. It is better to try and fail then to never of tried at all. I would usually find a reason as to why I am not ready, just to delay asking the market if it is a good product or not.
Getting Over Fears
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.
If you are afraid of heights, jump off the big diving board. If you are afraid of public speaking, get in front of a group and speak. Facing fear head on as they say. However, having a high threshold for fear doesn’t automatically put you on the path to success. House of Commons in the UK, for example, published statistics in April 2013 stating that, “there were 261,000 business births in 2011 and 230,000 business deaths”. Many more ventures fail then succeed. So there is a reason to be fearful but it shouldn’t be an excuse. I would say there is a fine balance between preparedness and execution that needs to be struck.
I think a common requirement of anyone pursing entrepreneurship is having to do things that take you out of your comfort zone. If you are a tech guy, your practice as an entrepreneur will need to come from doing not tech things. Perhaps selling something, anything to get your feet wet. I once decided to do some political canvasing just so I could get some experience approaching strangers with a marketing pitch. I would rather have done something else but this was valuable experience.
It is a Process
I remember reading a thread an individual started looking for advice about how to start a business or sell a product. A seasoned business owner said that starting a business isn’t like going to the gym and running a couple of laps around the track and then boom, success. You have to run that track over and over with no end in site and continue doing so without quitting. The analogy the writer was making is that there is no such thing as a recipe or bar you need to hit to starting a successful business. It is a lot of work, lot of time and there is no telling how much further you have to go until you gain traction in your marketplace. You need to build relationships. You need to practice your trade and stay up-to-date within your field. If you are in a position to be patient and you are young these are some of the efforts that will help you in the long run.
These are some of my thoughts with more to follow about the Aspiring Entrepreneur.