If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, you are more than likely wondering what it truly takes. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone.
After failing multiple times and founding a few successful businesses along the way, I’ve come to a few conclusions. Here are five rules to follow if you want to be a successful entrepreneur:
1. Work smarter, not harder.
Many people envision an entrepreneur as being someone who works 18-hour days, doing nothing but eating, sleeping and breathing his or her business. We tend to paint the picture of someone so driven to succeed that their entire life involves working. Of course, hard work is a key to succeeding as an entrepreneur — it takes grit, after all.
But it doesn’t quite look like that in reality: Working every waking minute of the day isn’t going to automatically make you a successful entrepreneur. This approach would mean that the entrepreneur is responsible for doing everything, like the old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” That approach may work occasionally, but the majority of people aren’t capable of sustaining such a grueling pace for a long period of time.
Overworking leads to fatigue, which leads to errors. Additionally, how many people truly have the skills to do everything? Most of us can do a couple of things really well. There are other things we are average at, and plenty of things that, let’s face it, we are just not good at. You have to learn how to work smarter, not harder, and it’s a mindset that will take some time to get used to.
2. Hire people to handle tasks you aren’t good at.
It’s simple: Hire people to do the things you are not good at. This allows you to focus on the areas of your business that you bring the most value to, while you have people in place focusing their attention on the areas that they bring the most value to. It’s a win-win.
Great entrepreneurs understand the importance of delegation. It sometimes takes becoming overwhelmed (and failing) before you fully understand why it’s so important. The thought of adding additional team members and employees can be scary, as is the cost associated with building a large staff. But thanks to the virtual economy we live in, you can find the help you need in the form of freelancers and contractors.
Websites like Freelancer.com and Upwork.com give you access to talented workers to handle tasks like graphic design, web development, sales prospecting, financial analysis, copywriting, multimedia production or virtually any other need.
3. Get more done and spend less.
Although using freelancers is not the most ideal situation for an established company, when you’re an early stage company, using freelancers and third-party contractors can be highly effective and won’t break the bank. In fact, it can be extremely affordable, thanks to basic supply and demand.
This dynamic is reinforced by the fact that many of the freelancers are based in markets overseas. The cost of living is lower, making our dollar go much further there. This approach is much more cost-friendly when compared to full-time employees, as freelancers are compensated only for the work they’ve completed.
4. Don’t be afraid of failing (because you will).
Working smart, finding the right people to get the work done and doing more with less are all keys to being a successful entrepreneur. Unfortunately, they are not guarantees. You have to be realistic — not every business succeeds.
Sometimes the concept just wasn’t right or the competition was tougher than anticipated. Oftentimes, completely unforeseeable situations occur, ruining your forward momentum. You have to be prepared to fail, but more importantly, not be afraid of failing.
5. Wake up with purpose daily, and be relentless.
The largest contributor to the success of an entrepreneur is the fact that they simply did it. They woke up every day, working hard until they made it happen. They pushed through, even during the difficult times.
Steve Jobs once said, “Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
While following all of the steps above won’t guarantee success, they can help stack the odds in your favor. If you fail this time, you have better odds to succeed next time. Remember, every problem has a solution. Concentrate on what you are good at, and put people in place to do the rest. Make it a habit to do more with less, and focus on working smarter.