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Do you have what it takes to start a business?

Mar 31 2016 13:52
Harry Welby-Cooke

Spend some time with your friends around the braai and everyone, at some stage, wants to do their own thing and venture off into entrepreneurship.  Unfortunately, less than 6% of the population ever will. Why is that?

Business is relatively simple and there are enough examples of success out there to make it a worthwhile risk to undertake. 

Most people, however, know of the other part of the equation and the failures and difficulties. Perhaps that holds them back. 

Either way, business is simple but not always easy.  The biggest factor in its success is you, the owner, and that’s sometimes the hardest part.

Here are a few critical criteria:

1. Resilience

There will be great times, but I guarantee you there will be some tough times too. Your ability to bounce back, and to bounce back quickly, will determine how fast you can get through the tough times and, more importantly, how successful the great times will be. 

Entrepreneurship is a journey that has its ups and downs. Know this, prepare for it and go through it as quickly and as positively as possible.

2. Money

Business involves money and most people have major hang-ups about the same thing - money! Unless you want to work for free you will need to charge. There will come times where you need to ask for money – either from banks or creditors and, yes, even from people that owe you money, your debtors. 

Get over it and get over yourself. The quicker you make peace with the fact that money is how we keep score and serves as the barter element we use for mutual value exchange, the better. You will need cash to survive and profit to thrive. That’s just the way it is.

3. Make decisions

Most businesses fail not because the owner has made the wrong decisions, but often because they haven’t made any decisions at all.

As an entrepreneur you will be called upon to make decisions often. Most of the time you won’t have all the facts with you, nor the luxury of time. You’ll be called upon to act quickly and decisively and run with that decision as if you had all the information and time before doing so. 

Trust your gut instinct, seek counsel from those you trust and get on with it. If a decision does prove to be the wrong one, that’s okay. Learn from it and quickly correct it with the right decision. Then move on. Don’t dwell on things you can’t change and don’t over analyse either.

4. People are your greatest asset

Cliché? Yes. True? Absolutely! Invest in people as much as possible. This is not limited to your staff and should also include clients, suppliers, service providers, strategic partners, family, friends, networks. 

The better you become at interacting with people and driving performance through people, the better your results will be. Show that you care, invest time, train and make sure you go out of your way for others. Guess what? With that example, others will do the same for you.

5. Learn, learn, learn

Even today, it’s sad to see that you can’t go anywhere to learn how to become an entrepreneur or a business owner. Bits and pieces perhaps, but nowhere can you do an all-encompassing course. Most people just wing it and end up paying plenty of school fees. 

“The only place earn comes before learn is in the dictionary,” according to Brad Sugars, founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. Elsewhere you need to learn first, then earn. The learning process should always continue, by the way. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and look for areas to learn. You will be called upon to wear many hats you’re not comfortable with, or aren't very good at wearing. 

That’s business. Read, watch, listen, ask, seek council and, most importantly, get a business coach or mentor to walk the path with you. Entrepreneurship can be lonely so don’t go it alone.

Starting your own business, or being a true entrepreneur, can be the most exciting and rewarding journey you’ve ever undertaken. Get yourself ready first and then go for it. We need you, so please start today.

*Harry Welby-Cookeis the co-master licensee for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa.

business  |  entrepreneur

4 June issue
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