When I first meet an entrepreneur-wannabe, I quickly assess whether they have the traits needed to be a successful entrepreneur. Owning, running and being immersed in business is not for the faint-of-heart, nor should it be. It can be scary, disconcerting, and keep some up late at night from time to time. That's not a bad thing, but it takes a certain kind of person to knowingly seek that out, and then to follow through with it on a long-term basis.
What is it that separates an entrepreneur from an employee? First and foremost, the ability to take on risk and responsibility. The entrepreneur has a higher acceptable level of risk, meaning there is an understanding that there is no or little safety net underneath them isn't necessarily a bad thing. There also isn't anyone else who's going to be paying the bills, and all decisions, including the really hard ones, are yours to make. There's no one else to blame when things don't get done or don't go well.
For the true entrepreneur, this is actually something they call 'opportunity' and 'freedom.' For instance, I've often said that being self-employed and the head of my company means I can get up in the morning, walk into the bathroom wearing my bathrobe and slippers, and look in the mirror. My 'board of directors' can meet, consider multiple options, discuss them, and render a decision in minutes, all while brushing my teeth. Then we can walk the few steps to my office and begin carrying them out. If there's a disagreement amongst the board, well that's another story. Time for the 'board' to find a psychologist. Just kidding. The beauty is that I'm the master of my destiny. It also means I'm the master of my destiny. If I fail, there's no one else to blame, and the paycheck will reflect that. Taking a day off can mean I don't get paid for the day, unlike having paid time off, vacation days, family medical leave, etc. Instead, I assume some risk and need to plan ahead. An entrepreneur sets pricing structures to cover the inevitability of these things, and sets about creating the systems that will provide for them ahead of time.
An entrepreneur also has the ability to see the big picture, accepts the path to success isn't all rosy, and is realistic about what they can and cannot do. I've met those I call "Field of Dreamers" who honestly believe that if they build it, the clients, money, success and fame will come. Building it, for them, is sometimes just obtaining a name and creating a website. Some have actually said to me that "The Universe will provide..." when I ask about their business plan. My response is usually something to the effect of "The Universe helps those who help themselves."
I have been blessed over the years to have sought out and been mentored by some truly amazing people. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to "Plan for the downside, because the upside takes care of itself." It's become innate in me now. I understand that there are ebbs and flows to everything in life; the only constant in life is change. When I'm riding a wave, I anticipate it will land on the beach in the not-so-distant future, and have a plan on how to get back out to the wake so I can ride another wave quickly. In business, this means that I never stop marketing. When I'm swamped with business, I build in time for networking and keep the advertising going, sometimes by automating it. But I don't stop, because marketing keeps the potential clients coming, so that when the slower times come, I have a backlog of business I can tap into. I may also seek out others to help when things get overwhelming, and don't assume I can do it all or that I'm an expert at everything.
Whether you're the new budding entrepreneur who feels overwhelmed by the process of starting a new business, or the existing business owner who's blessed with too much to do, or know you're not an expert in writing newsletters, creating websites or event planning, for instance, maybe it's time to help yourself. Call me. Email me - whatever works for you. You're not alone in your vision. Hire someone to help you pull together your Field of Dreams, or to market it. Do what you do best - I'll help with the rest. That's my dream.
'til next time,
Ronnie Roll has started several businesses from the "I Have An Idea" stage to grand openings and beyond. Her passion is helping others achieve their dreams, and her art mediums are business modeling and food.