A moment of inspiration is all it takes to have an idea. You could be in a coffee shop or on your third mile on the treadmill when the light bulb comes on. Every entrepreneur will tell you they have the greatest idea since the can opener but the question is, “Where will you go from here?” Will you execute the idea or will it remain a dream?
There is nothing wrong with dreaming but unless you act upon it, dreams are all you’ll ever have. And that is what makes entrepreneurs special; they work to live their dreams and make it a reality.
An idea is like a seed. It can be planted in your head but unless you nurture it with planning, action, and implementation it will never grow and bear fruit.
My lightbulb moment came after successfully building my first website. Sure it presented several challenges but I loved every minute of it.
There were times when design or programming issues left me feeling stumped. But these types of situations encouraged me to push beyond boundaries. Every challenge I overcame served to make me a better web designer.
I also discovered there was a strong market for web design services because the Internet was growing in popularity and influence.
The Internet evolved from technology that was only accessible via dial-up before broadband came around in 2004. In 1995, the Internet was available only to 16 Million people. By 2004, more than 745 Million people could use the Internet.
Today there are more than 3.6 Billion users of the Internet every day!
At the time the light bulb came on in my head, I was still learning the intricacies of web design. In my research, I was surprised to learn that despite the growing presence of the Internet, less than 50% of small businesses owned websites.
I thought, “If nearly 50% of the world’s population was on the Internet every day, wouldn’t you want your business to be accessible to them?” The Internet offered many advantages for entrepreneurs and small business owners:
- 24/7 operation.
- Availability of free, downloadable business tools and software.
- More efficient avenues for marketing and promoting your business like social media, blogging and link building.
- Low start up capital.
- Low maintenance costs.
The website is your window to the Internet. It makes your business accessible to everyone. It’s like having a storefront display in this place called the World Wide Web.
In addition to standard research methodologies, I also spoke with many small business owners in my community and asked them their thoughts on the Internet and websites in general.
It turned out majority of small business owners knew what a website was but were clueless on how it could help their business become profitable.
That was the moment a seed was planted in my head. Eventually I would nurture the seed to become Mountaintop Web Design. It was a venture that allowed me to build a career out of my passion for web design.
As an entrepreneur, I now have the means to help other businesses accomplish their goals of achieving profitability by providing quality web design and digital marketing services.
6 Important Lessons for the Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is never a sure thing. Nothing is ever guaranteed. Some people quit their day jobs to start their own business only to regret it afterward. It can be a rude awakening. Statistically, 50% of small businesses fail within the first 4 years and the survival rate gradually declines every year thereafter.
Yet despite the daunting numbers, 98% of the businesses registered every day are considered small scale enterprises. No wonder entrepreneurs are considered the new engines of growth of the economy!
But what does it take to be an entrepreneur? What qualities set apart the doers from the dreamers?
1. Accept the Reality of Failure
If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to accept the inevitably of failure. It will happen somehow, somewhere and without warning. There are more failures than there are successes.
Failure is a constant companion in the journey. But it is not there to destroy us. On the contrary, failure exists to teach us how to get better.
Rather than wallow in self-pity, use the experience to improve your overall proposition. Go ahead and ask the “Why’s”, “How’s” and “What’s” but spend more time looking for answers than uncovering questions. The more failures you endure, the closer you get to achieving success.
Failure is not your enemy. It is your best friend, your teacher. Do not fear failure; embrace it as a prerequisite for success.
2. Learn How to Execute
Even if you have acquired funding, an idea will not take fruition unless it is properly executed. An idea that is poorly executed will result in losses even as early as the start up stage.
It is not uncommon for other entrepreneurs to have a business idea that is similar to yours. A good example would be the ride-sharing industry. Uber created the market in 2008. Since then, the industry has opened up to other players such as Lyft, Sidecar, Curb, Grab and Didi Chuxing.
Uber’s execution of its business strategy set the standard for everyone else to follow. While its market share may have eroded due to the collaborative efforts of its competitors, Uber still reigns supreme.
3. Let Your Passion Drive You
As an entrepreneur, I can say from experience that passion is the strongest driver in business. When you love what you do, there is no problem that is too difficult to solve. There is no situation you cannot handle. There is nothing you will not do to make the product or service better.
Passion makes time irrelevant; it makes the hours and days go by much quicker. Tim Ferris used to spend 14 hours working every day on his supplement company BrainQUICKEN. He admitted it was not the most efficient way to get things done but logging in the long hours was what he wanted to do.
The most important advice I can give you is that If you want to start a business, it must be something you are passionate about. But passion alone will not ensure your success.
You must take the time to conduct thorough research about your business. Create a business plan as a reference point. If you don’t know how to make one, commission someone who can.
4. Understand that Sacrifice is Part of the Journey
Those who have crossed over from the 9-to-5 office grind to entrepreneurship thought they would have more control over their work schedule. To a certain extent that is true. As an entrepreneur, there are no log-ins and time clocks to record your work hours.
But the reality is the sacrifices are much greater. As an employee, you work within an assigned work shift and are paid a fixed salary every 15th and 30th. As an entrepreneur, you have no fixed work schedule. Your income will depend on your company’s performance.
You will discover there are times that you have to work more than 48 hours a week. I have struggled with the internal conflict of trying to be productive all the time. I have even had to make the choice of missing time with family and friends.
At certain times, I felt like I needed to put in more hours working so I could finish more websites and be available to take on more projects for clients.
The bottom-line is entrepreneurs need to learn to find balance between life and work. Having a business that pays the bills and measures income with productivity is a great thing. But always remember that you should work to live and not live to work.
Life should never just be about work. You could lose your business but your family and friends will always be there for you.
5. Be Open Minded
In Eric Reis’ book, “The Lean Start-Up” he noted that entrepreneurs “live in a vacuum”. They believe their idea is great and flawless. Allowing yourself to be lulled into this false sense of complacency will have damaging consequences when things don’t go as planned.
As an entrepreneur, you must have an open mind and accept there are things you cannot control. This is especially true in this age of the Internet. Consumers have immediate access to a wide range of information. Their tastes and preferences can easily be influenced by social media, a blog, a post, or an article.
Instead of trying to come up with “The Perfect Plan”, focus on flexibility. Make sure your business model can adapt to unexpected changes in business conditions.
6. Embrace Learning as a Never-Ending Process
If you think you know everything you need to learn about your business, think again. If you did, you would never have to deal with problems every working day and you would be raking in money like Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook generates $2 Billion every quarter. There are 1.9 Billion active Facebook users which means it accounts for 52% of Internet users every day. Zuckerberg himself is worth billions.
So why does Mark Zuckerberg read 1 book every week? The same number as Microsoft founder Bill Gates?
These billionaires make reading part of their daily routine because they want to keep on learning. Even established industry giants like Facebook and Microsoft encounter problems every day.
For them, learning should be a never-ending process. And it should be for you as well. Strive to improve on your strengths and build your weaknesses by acquiring as much knowledge as you can.
The Entrepreneurial Journey
People like to say “entrepreneurs are only in the business of making money”. Of course, unless you are a non-profit organization, the objective of business is to generate profit. It should go without saying that people go into business to make money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But I believe that if your goal of making money has come to a point that it has consumed you, then you may never accomplish it. Those who only think about the money, will abandon ship once the business starts sinking.
I’ve seen graphics that depict the road to entrepreneurial success as a straight line. Nothing could be more further from the truth.
The journey to success is similar to climbing a mountain. You have to prepare and plan months before the climb. It’s not just a physical challenge. It also exerts a toll on your mind and spirit.
Obstacles can arise during the climb that would require strategy and precise execution. It is hard work but getting to the top makes all the time, effort and sacrifices worthwhile!
Everyone wants to climb the highest peak but you can’t hope to achieve that without overcoming smaller mountains first. That is why a mountain is the metaphor for my web design company, we are here to help you make the climb.
When you are looking up the mountain from its base, the climb would seem like a daunting, seemingly impossible task. But all you have to do is take that first step up the mountain to get the journey started. One step at a time; never look down and keep your focus on getting to the top.
Starting a business is an exciting time; but it is also nerve-wracking and filled with anxious moments. Once you take that first step, the climb eventually becomes smoother and easier. The challenges that lie ahead will only serve to make you better. It takes a force stronger than money to survive the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Do you have your own story on entrepreneurship that you would like to share? Please post in the comments section below. Your experiences will definitely help those in our audience who plan to become entrepreneurs. We would love to hear from you!