By Kenneth Surbrugg, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Missouri Southern State University
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston S. Churchill
Successful entrepreneurs tend to be resilient, decisive, and competitive. They possess the ability to see opportunities that others may not see and to work hard to see these visions accomplished. They tend to be innovative and have the ability to learn how technology can be implemented within their firms to be more efficient. While there is not a specific path to success, the following are some tips that may assist you in your journey to entrepreneurial success.
Associate with other entrepreneurs
There is a growing trend in entrepreneur meetups. These meetups take place at various third-space locations. Third space refers to a location that is not home or work. It could be a restaurant, bar, or a local chamber office. These events encourage entrepreneurs to network, talk shop, or just have conversations about life. Meetups are happening in the region; find out where and give one a try. There are other ways to find entrepreneur groups if a meetup is not for you. Look at various community organizations or civic groups to find your path.
Anyone who thinks they are the only person with good ideas is mistaken. Many people have already experienced great challenges in business that you will one day face. Seek their advice, learn from their mistakes and find someone to be your mentor, someone who can act as a confidential sounding board for your ideas.
Be passionate about your work
Make certain that you enjoy the line of work you are going to pursue. You need to relish your business endeavors in order to be successful. People who don’t believe in their ideas, projects and companies often time don’t succeed. If you are going to build a better mousetrap, you must have a vision on how you will accomplish your goal.
Develop a plan
Develop objectives and a strategic vision. As you are developing your strategy, think about how you can create conditions that allow innovation to become part of your day. As you plan for expansion, hire innovative thinkers and plan to have the resources and training available to them so they can excel at their positions. Develop financial plans and goals to be able to support your vision.
Be flexible and continually improve
You need to be agile in order to perform well and accomplish your goals. You will need to continually learn and adapt as new technology and information becomes available. In order to avoid failure, you need to be able to adapt to environmental factors that can be difficult to overcome. Continuous improvement is the key. Educate yourself on new management techniques, changes in the marketplace, and new technology.
Manage finances wisely
Cash is king and you must be able to manage your cash flow in order to stay in business. You will need to be able to control your expenses, generate revenue, and make profit in order to succeed. This will mean that you will need to create budgets and monitor performance on a regular basis.
Understand your customers
Successful entrepreneurs spend time analyzing their customers on a continual basis. If you don’t know who your customers are, how will you be able to determine if you are meeting their needs? You need to understand what problems your company can solve for customers. In order to successfully satisfy your customer’s needs and communicate with them, you need to know who they are and what, when, how, and why they will purchase your products or services. You also need to look at other consumer groups — are there others out there that could use your product or service? How do you reach them?
Demonstrate honesty and integrity
In the long run, honesty pays off. Being a person of your word, delivering on your promises, and treating your business dealings with integrity will help you succeed. The reputation you develop in business will follow you and reflect on the opportunities that others will want to offer you. Customers and suppliers want to deal with people they can trust. Long-term trust is earned.
Success does not happen overnight. Success takes time and effort. Ben Franklin said it best: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”