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Fake It 'Til You Make It

Not an entrepreneur at heart? You can still successfully launch your own biz -- just remember these four tips.

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Q: I'm not an entrepreneur by nature. Will this prevent me from being a successful business owner?

A: Self-employment or independent careers are often lumped into the same category as entrepreneurship. But one thing we've learned from interviewing thousands of people over the years is that many people who are happy and successful in their own businesses do not fit the classic entrepreneurial mold.

We call these many successful individuals "propreneurs." Compared to entrepreneurs, they are less interested in the "business of business" and more interested in finding meaning in their careers and controlling their time, the kind of work they do and the manner in which they do it.

The key to succeeding as a propreneur lies in treating your business in a way that leaves you free to pursue the work you do best. That means you will need to:

  • Have a professional attitude. Take the legal steps to form your business, open a business bank account, launch a website, and so on.
  • Get business coming to you. Learn to attract customers in ways that come naturally and comfortably to you. Give away samples, offer free consultations, or use publicity.
  • Have a positive relationship with money. Become comfortable talking openly about money. Figure out what you need to charge and when you expect to be paid, get clear financial agreements, and follow up immediately to collect the money you're due.
  • Set up a support network. Line up a support team of professionals (such as a lawyer and a tax professional) you can turn to for advice and assistance.

Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards' new book is The Best Home Businesses for People 50+.