By Chelsea Berler, author of “The Curious One: From Food Stamps to CEO – One Woman’s Journey through Struggle, Tragedy, Success and Love“
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a kit that made you into a successful entrepreneur every time? Or a fairy godmother that touched you with her magic wand and abracadabra . . . instant success? Without any road bumps, detours, or wrong turns.
If there were such a helpful kit or if magic worked, I’d have jumped on the bandwagon years ago. But unfortunately, being a success as an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. There are no real short cuts. Sorry!
However, I’ve found that there are many traits successful entrepreneurs have in common (some are harder than others, some easier). If you want to thrive for the long term, there are specific “musts” to launch, drive, nurture, and grow a profitable small business.
Be willing to invest the time.
“Most people put in 40 hours a week working for other companies. But when you’re working for yourself, the workweek can easily extend to 80 hours or more,” said an article from the Arizona Republic onSept. 8, 2024. “And you may have to work long hours for months, a year or even longer before your idea begins to make money. All of this can be stressful as well as mentally and physically demanding.”
Keep in mind this quote from Coach Vince Lombardi who said, “Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success.”
Take it from me, starting a business is NOT a nine-to-five job. When I first started out, I worked and worked and worked. But, I loved every minute, which made it a whole lot easier and less stressful, and that takes me to the next must.
Do what you really enjoy doing and have a passion for.
Entrepreneur magazine says that, “What you get out of your business in the form of personal satisfaction, financial gain, stability, and enjoyment will be the sum of what you put into your business. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, in all likelihood it’s safe to assume that will be reflected in the success of your business — or subsequent lack of success. In fact, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, chances are you won’t succeed.” That’s why it’s so critical to have a passion for what you’re doing, which I wrote about in an earlier post.
Have the support of your family and friends.
Make sure they’re behind your decision to start a business. Otherwise, the long hours can take a toll on your family and social life. Those dinner-and-a-movie dates you’ve been doing with your spouse may become a thing of the past, at least for the time being. You’ll also be missing a regular income. So make sure you’ve got that support mechanism firmly in place. (BTW, my husband always stands in my corner, which helps a ton! Thanks, Sweetie.)
Take it seriously . . . and plan, plan, plan.
Believe in your business. Far too many small business owners I’ve met fail to take their own businesses seriously enough, getting easily sidetracked or falling prey to naysayers. Believe in yourself and plan every aspect of your business . . . analyze each situation, research and compile data, and make conclusions and goals based mainly on the facts as revealed through the research. You can use the plan that you create both as map to take you from point to point and as a yardstick to measure the success of each individual plan or segment within the plan.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses.
Most successful entrepreneurs are self-starters, comfortable in an environment where they are in charge. They are smart enough to know what they can and can’t do. They know how to address their weaknesses. They are wise enough to put together a team of people with other skills to help them. For example, when I started out I learned quickly that building a website was not my strength. (Frankly, my first attempt sucked!) But, then I reached out to people who knew what they were doing to help me out. Suck to success in one easy step, right?
It’s all about the customers.
It’s NOT about the products or services that you sell, or the prices that you charge, or your competition and how to beat them. Your business success is all about your customers, or clients. PERIOD! After all, they are the ones that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer-focused, including your website, payment options, presentations, and advertising and promotional campaigns. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.
Be known as the expert.
You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it’s time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business niche, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. Says Entrepreneur magazine, “In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.” This is your competitive advantage . . . what separates you from the competition.
You must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of where you work, even when you’re traveling. I always make sure to get back to my clients as quickly as possible…and do my best to be knowledgeable about their products and services before I get back to them. Likewise, you must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it. They will remember . . . and they will tell their friends and associates. That’s the kind of reputation you want.
Stay organized . . . and take time off.
It’s all about managing your business. It’s about having systems in place to do things. For example, at Solamar we use Basecamp to take care of calendars, projects, workflow, and time management.
The temptation is to work 24/7/365. Establish a regular work schedule and stick to it as much as possible. All work and no time off will make you grumpy (not at all customer-friendly!).
You must have a good time doing what you’re doing. Take the advice of Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Airways founder and business magnate, “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”
Being a successful entrepreneur is a lot easier and more straightforward, according to Forbes magazine, when you just remember these four words: Act. Learn. Build. Repeat.
© 2014 Chelsea Berler, author of The Curious One: From Food Stamps to CEO — One Woman’s Journey through Struggle, Tragedy, Success and Love
Chelsea Berler, author of “The Curious One: From Food Stamps to CEO – One Woman’s Journey through Struggle, Tragedy, Success and Love“, was born curious. From a young age — she felt a pull to think differently. Today, Chelsea is the CEO of a boutique, marketing agency that supports businesses around the world. But more than that, she is a champion for people who are driven to bring their talent and greatness into the world on their own terms.