When I ventured into the land of entrepreneurship, little did I know that the experience was going to yield profound learning that would thereafter impact every aspect of my life. Before I started my own business, I had been an executive for 12 years, and while I had seen a lot of success, and there was plenty more of it on my horizon, I still felt that something was missing. I wanted to do something for myself, and by myself.
Hence, I made the decision to start a business. Now, after four years as an entrepreneur, I look back and feel a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. I’m not a millionaire yet, and I’ve not achieved all my goals either, but the journey has been truly amazing. Here are four things that I learned during my time as an entrepreneur, which, I hope, will be of benefit to you all as well:
1. Start Small
First of all, have faith in the idea you have for your business. Make it a small one, so that if it does fail, you can go back to it, improve it and bring about changes to your business model to make it a successful one. If, in any case, this cannot be done, then you can still pull the plug on it at a minimal loss, since it is a small venture.
2. Know Your Industry
Do your homework on the industry you are venturing into. Know your competition, and know how the industry works. Get to know what type of business models work and what do not. Having an innovative model is of no use if the industry is not ready or not willing to accept it. If you’re adamant enough to stick to your model, then ensure that you have the stamina and the resources you need to run the business for a long time. These resources, be it human, financial or IT, will be the fuel that you will run on, so be prudent and have a long term plan.
3. Know Your Customers
After all, they are the ones who will buy your product or services. So, make sure you understand how they think and what would make them buy your service. Also, be prepared to tell your customers why you are better than your competition in the market.
4. Get A Mentor
Get yourself a mentor or a business coach, someone who can be there during the tough periods you may go through. And for a startup, there will be several such periods, and they will last for a long while. I might sound a bit depressing, but then again, not all businesses or business owners strike gold. Many of us struggle, and many of us quit, or have to quit. Of course, there are also proven methods to start a business—check out the book, The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries.
5. Trust Your Intuition
Your intuition, your gut feeling, is a very strong weapon that you have. Many times, it will seem to fail you, but rest assured that such experiences will provide you with valuable life lessons instead. Sometimes, no matter how much data you may have, your gut feeling will be the crucial factor in making a decision—so trust in it.