“‘Entrepreneur’ just denotes that you recognize that you’re doing things across disciplines and that you’re blazing your own path.” ~ Pharrell Williams
Having your own business is still one of the most dreamed about career goals most people have, but one of the hardest to sustain.
Just the idea of it sounds rewarding and fulfilling and it is. But, don’t get lulled into romanticizing it. If you are going to start a business, you just have to make sure you are doing everything that you need to do to professionalize it.
The entrepreneurial mindset is characterized by initiative, adventure, risk and perseverance. Not everyone is cut out for this going it solo – ownership experience. We are responsible for taking ownership of being the best at who we are and what we do. We all “own” our process which greatly impacts the outcome of how things turn out.
My colleague JT O’Donnell, Founder of Careerealism, says:
“It should come as no surprise much of what is written about launching a startup or being an entrepreneur can be applied to ourselves as we lead our respective business of ones to greatness.”
Taking leadership of your company if you do own it and ownership of your career if you run it are “musts” in today’s competitive business world.
Take it from me, after 7 years it is not for the faint of heart, but it is fulfilling. As I continue celebrating this milestone as an entrepreneur, I am also musing and thinking about what it took to get here and what it will take to stay.
Small Business Delivers Big Opportunity For Many
The SBA considers firms with fewer than 500 employees small, placing nearly every business in the country (99.7 percent of firms that have employees) under that umbrella term — thus, it is no surprise they employ the most workers.
Forbes uncovered some impressive current statistics about small business from it’s 38 million members, which gives us a good picture of the current small business landscape which is encouraging:
- Twenty eight million small business in the US.
- Over 50% of workers work in small businesses.
- Sixty five percent of new jobs are generated by small business.
- Fifty two percent of small businesses are home based.
Small business in this country drives the economy and our communities. One can be a successful small business locally or globally, with a brick and mortar store or a website hub, or both.
The US Small Business Association definition of small business:
- Is organized for profit.
- Has a place of business in the US.
- Operates primarily within the U.S. or makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor.
- Is independently owned and operated.
- Is not dominant in its field on a national basis.
Whether you are a business of one, two, three or five hundred, what it takes to start up and be successful requires the same fundamentals, regardless of size. The biggest differences are scalability and operations.
Carefully Consider the Benefits and Liabilities of Being a “Business of One”
The key benefits to being your own boss include financial freedom, flexibility, decision making power, creativity, innovation and a viable solution to being unemployed or underemployed. Imagine taking your talents or hobbies and applying them to a viable niche or maybe taking on a franchise.
I have sadly witnessed the negative outcome of people who jumped in without the proper assessment, evaluation, product, plan, capital and skills. They were wiped out financially, emotionally and had a hard time recovering.
This endeavor can be a dream maker or dream killer. Going into it with the right skills, plan, motivation and professionalism and not a fantasy is the preparation that can make it or break it.
If you are thinking about starting a business or just have, here are some resources from the SBA.gov that are invaluable. Twenty questions and 10 steps that can help you make good decisions, be better prepared for the challenges and improve your success.
Make Sure Are You The Right Fit for The Job
The question of whether successful entrepreneurs are born or developed is an ongoing discussion. I will say, and do believe, that entrepreneurs share some important qualities. They take initiative, seize opportunity and have a higher risk tolerance. They are good decision makers, more focused and have stamina.
Take advantage of Score, the SBA, Small Business Development Centers and free workshops in your county or city and get some counseling. Most of this is free or a nominal fee.
Find a Need and Niche and Fill it
What can you do? Can you turn a hobby into a side or main business? What do people need? What trends open up opportunity? These are the questions to ask yourself.
I love the show Shark Tank because it presents real people creating and inventing things that they hope make people’s lives better. Most of the products and services are born out of finding a solution for something they needed that they couldn’t find.
Talk to people you network with, and watch what hot social media topics are getting the most action to track what people are talking about.
Build Your Tribe and Buzz
If you have already started a business, I encourage you to use all of the self marketing, promotion and professional branding tools available today. Social Media alone can be a huge way to build your tribe, buzz and word of mouth. Combine the power of visual pictures with great content that educates and tells your story and the story of your customers. Your professional brand image should be current, fresh and focused.
Here are some hot business and industry categories, that might be a good match for your skills and interests, to start your small business.
This is the best time to start a business since 2011. But it takes the right personality, niche and plan. If you believe in yourself and what you can do to help people, then I say go for it. It’s exciting, rewarding and fun most of the time.
Be the best “business of one” you can be – but remember to build a strong network of many to support you.
Business Woman Photo via Shutterstock
I’m not a small business owner. I freelance. But that in itself is very challenging. Though I have the freedom of no-one looking over my shoulder, and my own hours to determine how I use them, I do have to be my own cheerleader.
I am steadily building my own tribe though. Perseverance is definitely an important factor.
Ebele, you actually are a small business owner. You are a great example of “a business of one”, as a contract freelancer. You are so not alone today. So many people using their skills and expertise to help others like this. Build your brand, become top of mind in your field and always be your own cheerleader. That’s confidence and respecting yourself. I’m proud of you! Go Ebele!
Oh! OK! (shimmies and declares herself a small business owner!) 🙂
(tucks ‘build your brand’ into her list of mantras)
Aww, and thanks for saying you’re proud of me, Deborah. I appreciate it.
Yep, you are, go do it.
You’re right when you said that this is a dream for many but it is one of the hardest to sustain. That’s because while having a business can be rewarding, it is also quite risky since you don’t have enough money per month. It takes real courage to go from a day job to a business but once it starts rolling, you’ll likely never go back to the way you used to be.
Aira, Yes it is risky but most things have risk. The reward and satisfaction can out weigh the risk, as long as it’s well thought out and planned for and committed to.
Having said, “ This endeavor can be a dream maker or dream killer”. Indeed it is. It has to go a very long way of preparation and evaluation before reaching a certain level of assurance that this venture would take me into a different level of success. Staying focused and determined is definitely a great plus.
Julie, focus, determination, preparation, evaluation are all important ingredients for success. Wishing you the best.
Hi thank you for your encouragement that it is doable! I have been trying to open different businesses, but all died within a period of one year! I have trying to find out where did I do wrong but in vain. Can you be my mentor from now on my dear?
I know the distance is not a barrier anymore and I will be glad to welcome you to Tanzania one of these days to see what you we can do to explore many opportunities available here.
You can do it. I welcome you to follow me here or on other social media and find a mentor in your area that not only can help you, but that you can help too. Make sure you are doing something you love, something people need in Tanzania, figure out a niche and work it. Go smaller and then grow. Thanks for supporting us here!