Do you dream of a life where you can choose your own working hours, be location independent and make your mark on the world? Are you creative, driven and inspired to take action when you see a good opportunity? Do you want to quit your nine to five office job and spend your time doing something you actually enjoy and working on something that you really care about? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ then you should consider becoming an entrepreneur. Starting your own business, or buying and transforming someone else’s, could be the creative and exciting career adventure that you have been looking for. Now, you might be thinking that you have no idea how to become an entrepreneur: don’t worry, you are in the right place. We’ve taken the time to answer some of the initial questions you might have about life as an entrepreneur and compiled a list of the 9 most important things to think about when you are starting out. So look no further, we’ve got you covered.
What is an entrepreneur?
So you’ve seen them on the television and scrolled through the lavish lifestyle of the rich and successful on Instagram but might still be wondering: What is an entrepreneur? What do they actually do? The term itself is broad and opinions vary depending on where you look; A quick Google search will tell you that an entrepreneur is ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit’. This definition is basically accurate but only really scrapes the surface of what an entrepreneur is. Successful entrepreneurs are fuelled by innovative ideas, they make bold decisions and have a desire to mix things up and radically fill that gap in the market with ‘the next big thing’. Entrepreneurs do not follow the crowd or fit into an existing mold, they aim to seek out what everyone else has missed and turn it into something everyone wants!
Small business owner or entrepreneur?
The term ‘entrepreneur’ is often misunderstood to refer to anyone who has started their own business. In reality, you do not need to be the person who starts the business to be an entrepreneur; likewise, starting a business does not define you as one. So what is the difference between a small business owner and an entrepreneur?
Many small business owners choose not to take the entrepreneurial route, content with building their business slowly and fine-tuning the details. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are often looking for new challenges, breaking the mold with new ideas and ways of doing things and will take more risks in the hopes of bringing in a bigger profit.
Some small business owners may find that once things are up and running smoothly they have a desire to challenge themselves and take things further, therefore entering into a more entrepreneurial mindset. Equally, someone looking to become an entrepreneur may choose to buy an existing business and take it in a new direction, using this as a springboard opportunity to improve and master their entrepreneurial skills!
Still with us and want to know how to become an entrepreneur?
So, perhaps you strongly identify with the previously outlined profile of an entrepreneur and reading this has kick-started a whirr of unconventional business ideas in your mind; maybe you are curious about the possibilities available around transforming an existing business into something ingenious. Either way, now it’s time to get down to the details and give you our tips on exactly how to become an entrepreneur. Below is our list of the nine most important things that every aspiring entrepreneur should think about before getting started. So grab your coffee and your notebook and let’s get started on planning your dream!
1.What’s your motivation for an entrepreneurial life?
Before you get going on your big plans and project schemes, it’s important to get clear on both the pros and cons that come with ‘living the entrepreneur dream’.
Generally, the most obvious and appealing plus of this lifestyle is that you can be your own boss. This includes benefits such as control over your working hours, holidays, location and business attire. This much sought after freedom and flexibility comes at a price, however, as calling all the shots also means taking the responsibility for a lot of different areas, making administration and organisation a big part of the job. Likewise, with the very nature of entrepreneurship being down to taking risks, a secure and steady salary is not a guarantee with this career choice. The amount you make is dependent on how successful your business is.
That being said, if you can stay composed regarding finances and are willing to learn from your mistakes, this line of work is far from boring. Rather than working towards someone else’s dream you can build your own, get creative and ultimately find far more job satisfaction in doing something you are passionate about.
2.Make sure you have a support network
No entrepreneur is an island and having people to support you on different levels throughout your journey is going to be integral to your development. Family and friends are always a good start, we all need our cheerleaders when the going gets tough, but if you want to make your business ventures a success you are going to need to go a little further afield.
Firstly, you need to identify your own strengths and weaknesses: which areas do you feel confident in handling yourself and which will you need additional help with? There are professionals that can help you improve areas such as finance and marketing or you might choose to work with a business coach to work on your overall understanding. It’s also important to keep yourself motivated; make sure to reach out to some already established entrepreneurs for advice and to get your daily dose of inspiration by following those living the life you want on social media.
3.Which problem do you want to solve?
When thinking about how to become an entrepreneur, it helps to also think about what kind of business it is that you want and your motivation behind it. Perhaps you have already identified a gap in the market, or a service or product that you know you can sell, design or do better. If this is the case, fantastic, you can start putting your entrepreneurial problem-solving skills to good use and get cracking on your solutions!
Alternatively, it might be the lifestyle itself, with all those exciting benefits we talked about, that is motivating you, so you are scouring the internet for an idea that you can transform into your entrepreneurial dream. Here you need to assess where your focus will be: what can you passionately get stuck into? Do you want to focus on a growing market or are you looking to open up a totally new one? Choosing an area that you already have an interest in is always a smart move, as it will help to keep you motivated along the way.
4.Understanding your target audience
It’s important to establish an understanding of your target market group and their needs before you start making business moves and spending money. What do the people you are trying to provide for want or need? Without doing a good amount of market research to acquire this knowledge you risk investing your precious time and money into avenues that just won’t bring in a profit. Use your entrepreneurial skills to source this information and get into the mind of your buyers so that you can really provide them with what they want and come up with a product that they can’t, or don’t want to, say no to!
5.Do you have the knowledge, skills and experience?
Once you have identified what kind of business you want and what exactly your target audience is looking for, you next need to get honest with yourself about whether you have the required knowledge and skill set that is needed to effectively drive your business venture to success. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the skills you need right away, everyone has to start somewhere, but be open to learning and improving along the way. What knowledge are you missing and what experiences can help you gain it? You might consider taking courses relevant to the type of business you want to start or look into joining networks of people who already have the skills you want. Every successful entrepreneur has had to learn things along the way and this continuous challenge of self-development is right at the heart of entrepreneurship, so get stuck in!
6.Validate your entrepreneurial solution
Before your exciting and innovative business idea can be launched out into the world of eager consumers, you need to go through the process of validating it to ensure that it is definitely going to bring you the profit that you envision. The point of product validation is to test run the idea to your target audience and ascertain interest levels before you spend any time and money on actually building the product. Once you have reached out and established what type of response to expect from your target market group, you can get to work on developing your minimal viable product. Your MVP will introduce and represent your business to your earlier customers but also ideally serve as a means to add to your existing market research and assist you with further product development. If you are turning around an existing company, validation can discern what the most effective changes will be to ensure you maintain and grow your consumer base; your minimum viable product will be a demonstration of the changes in the business, be it through products or services provided in a new format or style.
7.Investors, co-founders or finance yourself?
There are a number of options to consider when thinking about how to finance your entrepreneurial business. Initially, it can be difficult to source outside funding without proof that a product will be successful, so many start-up business owners begin with the financial support of family and friends. Those not willing to mix work with their personal relationships, on the other hand, might choose to self-fund or ‘bootstrap’ their business instead, although bear in mind that this requires some strategic planning and a strict budget.
If you are willing to invest the time in publicity and have a product or service that will really grab the public’s attention, crowdfunding platforms might be the financial route best suited to you. Applying for a bank loan or pitching business ideas to investors are also both reliable ways of sourcing funds, however, are more likely to be available to those buying an existing business, which will presumably come with some groundwork and an established client base.
8.How to incorporate your business
Whether you are taking over an existing business or starting from scratch, incorporation is an important factor to consider. It’s generally considered to be a wise move to incorporate a business for a few reasons.
First and foremost, the incorporation of your business will give you liability protection in the case of any legal or financial issues. This is a nice safety blanket especially if you are planning on collaborating with others, taking out a loan or taking some of those entrepreneurial risks that we mentioned previously. As a corporation, your business will be considered separate from your personal assets, as will any of its losses, debts or obligations.
Incorporating your business can also improve its credibility as many consumers and investors feel more comfortable getting involved with incorporated businesses, not to mention adding that “Inc.” or “LLC” to your business can help with marketing as well as serving as brand protection.
That being said ‘double taxation’ can be a problem that arises in this area and is good to seek out advice on when and how is the best time in the tax year to begin this process.
9.Market your business and market yourself
Effective marketing of both your business and yourself is a key component for success. You’ve got the finances, you’ve got the product and now you need to get out there and present your dream to the world: with confidence. Luckily for you, these days there is a range of tools available to help you to get your business on the radar, both online and offline. The most effective way for you to tackle marketing will be dependent on your product and your personal style of doing business and once again comes back to your target audience: what is the best way to reach them? Google provides some useful services to get local businesses on the map, or perhaps activity on social media sites and adverts is where you want to focus your energy? When it comes to offline strategies, joining networking and business groups or attending local conventions or events is a good way to promote yourself. Whichever route you take, take it with confidence!
GMO business brokers can kick start your entrepreneurial life
So now that you are clued in on how to become an entrepreneur and have these 9 things to think about, you are probably eager to find that perfect business to get started on. GMO business brokers have a range of services to assist anyone looking to buy an existing business and turn it into their own entrepreneurial venture. We aim to make the beginning stages of this journey as seamless as possible, starting by helping you to find the right fit for you. We have a large selection of businesses with genuine potential on offer and a team of professional brokers who all have previous experience in running or building businesses of their own. We can assist with a range of different issues that may present themselves in the early stages including constructing an offer and negotiating a fair price, offering efficiency and growth consulting and introducing you to a network of professionals such as accountants, lawyers, and finance brokers. Let us be part of your support network on this exciting journey!