Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Beginning Entrepreneur

beginning entrepreneurRemember back when you were a beginning entrepreneur? You know, before you actually started calling yourself an entrepreneur. You may even be one right now. You just wanted to be in business for yourself and set your own schedule; chart your own course. I remember those days. A laptop and a dream I used to say. Everyone thought you were crazy right? Let me remind you of some of the comments you probably heard (or may still hear):

      * "Why don't you just get a job?"
      * "You're going to give up job security!"
      * "Isn't that risky?"
      * "Don't you know most businesses fail?"
      * "Well, I hate to break it to you, but statistics show..."

Maybe you did like some people do and created a list of the pros and cons of starting a business. No matter what you did, the list of cons just kept getting bigger right? Then you realized something that most "normal people" (a term I use often in my upcoming book) do not realize. When it comes to these two lists, it has more to do with quality than quantity. No matter how long the list of cons, it just can not stand up against the much shorter list of pros. There was a burning desire inside of you that made the list of cons fade in the background as the list of pros leaped off of the page, beckoning you to take action. 

Is Passion Enough?

Of course, desire and passion alone will not make you a successful entrepreneur. They are enough to get you started and push you past your fear. But just like a pilot who must understand the basics of aviation, there are certain basics you must follow in order to be successful as an entrepreneur. You cannot sell something for less than what you pay for it and expect to make a profit. You cannot provide mediocre service and expect to grow a successful business. And you certainly cannot expect to get something for nothing. If that's your plan, then keep your day job.

There may come a time when you are standing there wondering what went wrong. I have this great widget and no one is knocking down my door to get it. Why?! Well, because "build it and they will come" philosophy only works in the movies. Too many beginning entrepreneurs fail because of this thinking. 
They start and end their day with desire and passion without enough filling in the middle. 

Some Things to Consider

Here are just a few items (certainly not a complete list) to consider as you start your venture.
  1. Partnership - As they say, 100% of nothing is, well, nothing. Having a partner who compliments your weaknesses can be a huge boost even if you have to split profits. Perhaps you are great at coding and engineering and your partner is a great spokesperson / salesperson. Anyone in the mood for an "Apple" (get it). However, be forewarned; choosing a partner cannot be taken lightly. Getting a partner is easy. Trying to get rid of one can be worse than going through a divorce. 
  2. Financials - I get it. You know nothing about accounting and you did not go into business to become an accountant. But you absolutely must enlist the help of someone who understands this side of the business. There are many accountants who specialize in small business accounting. Search for those in your area but make sure they specialize in small business.
  3. Um, customers? - Though I am sure you have the greatest widget or service the world has ever seen, it means absolutely nothing if the world does not know about it. How do you plan on (here it comes) SELLING?  Who are your customers and how do you plan on reaching them? I'm sorry, but friends and family do not count. Think long and hard about this one. As an entrepreneur, this becomes your number one priority. No sales. No revenues. Period.
This is just short list in no particular order. That is one of the reasons I wrote my book on entrepreneurship, "Presidents, Pilots & ENTREPRENEURS". In it I cover in great detail the mistakes and successes in my own ventures. What advice would you give yourself if you could go back ten years? That is my approach in this book: advising my younger self, if only that were possible. Too many beginning entrepreneurs fail who do not have to. My desire is to help increase the number of successes with the anecdotes in my upcoming book and this blog. 

What about you? What other key items should the beginning entrepreneur consider as they venture out? Share your thoughts in the comments section so that others can benefit from your experience.


  1. Great post, Derrick! Well, I still consider myself a beginner on the spectrum of entrepreneurship. Hmmm, I guess my last statement in and of itself could be considered good advice. Never think you know enough, and never stop learning. Dedicate a small portion of your day (maybe an hour) to learning about something valuable. However, don't let your lack of knowledge in an area stop you from taking action. Sloppy action is better than perfect procrastination!

  2. That's great advice Robin. "Don't let your lack of knowledge in an area stop you from taking action. Sloppy action is better than perfect procrastination!" I have to use that quote in my next book or blog post!