Elon Musk, Henry Ford, Oprah Winfrey and Walt Disney all share something life-defining in common—they each embody what it means to be an entrepreneur, and a renowned one at that. But that doesn’t mean you need to have Bill Gates-sized ideas in order to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur. While no one can write a completely accurate step-by-step itinerary for how to become an entrepreneur, you can learn what it takes to start. You must have the ability to seek out new opportunities in the world through a unique lens, to pick out problems and solve them, to take calculated risks and to create a business out of these attributes. If you believe yourself capable of these things then that means you have a growth mindset, a.k.a. what it takes to be an entrepreneur. You may be eating ramen noodles in your run-down studio apartment for the next year and half, but it can be worth it when following your visions and passions.
Here’s how to become an entrepreneur.
What a Professional Entrepreneur Does
You may have heard synonyms like enterpriser, speculator and tycoon, but in simple terms, an entrepreneur takes a greater than average financial risk in order to organize and operate a business. Being an entrepreneur is not a job title or position, rather, a mindset.“You have to have confidence in your skills and your vision. There are going to be many twists and turns along the entrepreneurial road, so having confidence that’s rooted in the reality of your own skills and the framework you are building is very important,” said owner and CEO of Meld Marketing Agency Melinda Pradarellli. No one can teach an entrepreneurial mindset to you, but you can find tools and take certain steps to get there. Here’s what an entrepreneur does:
- Owns and/or operates their own business
- Conceptualizes and/or implements marketing, sales, manufacturing, distribution and development ideas
- Views challenges as opportunities
- Solves market needs or creates new markets
- Exploits social media for marketing and sales
What it Takes to Become a Professional Entrepreneur
Each entrepreneur gets their start in different ways since the qualifications and education necessary depend on the type of business started and the credibility you seek. Many successful and professional entrepreneurs don’t have degrees in anything related to their business, or a degree at all. However, having a certificate or degree in anything business always helps to run things more smoothly when it comes to managing, marketing and branding.
With entrepreneurship, the door for explorations and following your passions through business remains wide open, even if at first you don’t succeed. Rather than waiting for opportunities to come to them, entrepreneurs toughen up and make their own. A strong entrepreneur knows how to delegate and lead, and with this comes the ability to listen, give and receive constructive criticism. “You have to listen and be adaptable. Your team, your customers and the market will tell you valuable things if you listen. But they may not always be what you thought they were going to tell you, so that’s where you have to be adaptable and develop an understanding for when you need to pivot and when you need to stay the course,” said Pradarelli.
Another important component involves networking and being strategic and intentional about the types of people you network with. With the digital age dominating the business world, you must take advantage of the opportunity to network 24/7 through sites like LinkedIn, Kickstarter and Reddit threads. “You have to have the foresight and trust to put a group of people around you both inside and outside the organization who have a high level of skill sets that compliment yours and who can help you think critically about the current and future state of the company,” said Pradarelli. If you want to become the next success story, your life better revolve around networking and making connections.
What You Should Know About Becoming a Professional Entrepreneur
1. What income will I earn as a professional entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs don’t make a specified salary but many factors contribute to the income they will make, such as the location, the business’ stage of life, your connections and more. Start-ups or businesses newly off the ground may even have to wait before turning a profit. What a McDonalds franchise earns most likely won’t be the same as an up-and-coming restaurant, even in a big city like Chicago.
2. How much will I be expected to work as a professional entrepreneur?
Many times, inspiring entrepreneurs tend to slack off when it comes to being their own management team. If you aren’t willing to put in all the time and work necessary, the business venture will most likely flop. “When I started my company, I used to wake up early every day and dress as if I’m going to work just to keep my motivation up. Working from home makes it very easy to lose focus and do anything else but work. You have to set up rules and boundaries and follow them, such as making your own schedule and writing daily, weekly monthly and even yearly goals. I remember, there’s no boss to supervise other than me. I’ve noticed when I follow these rules I actually make progress and move my company forward,” said New York’s owner of Ellesia Films Rom Ozeri.
3. What will my work environment be like?
You have to maximize and manage your time efficiently, and sometimes this means bringing others into the mix. You might have a team, or you might have you, yourself and you. As an entrepreneur, you create your work environment. Perhaps finding an environment you feel motivated, inspired and comfortable in will help you be productive in maximizing your time and efforts.
4. What do I need to know about the future of entrepreneurship?
The digital age marks a prominent shift from the traditional business world into a more Internet-based society. Businesses unwilling to change or adapt to this will most likely wither away. When it comes to observing how the business world evolves, an entrepreneur should always plan a few steps ahead. The good news: Entrepreneurship can’t go anywhere anytime soon since we will always need innovative people to keep the future moving forward.
Key Skills You Need to Become a Professional Entrepreneur
When it comes to achievements and success, an entrepreneur’s lifestyle and the skills they need to get there go hand-in-hand. “Passion, motivation and persistence. These aren’t necessarily skills, but types of character. In my opinion, some people have them while others don’t. Some don’t like taking risks. They need the stability, the frame and structure to feel confident. As an entrepreneur, you must know there are no guarantees. Opportunities may come and go while you need to make brave step towards your goals,” said Ozeri. This means determination, a strong work ethic and a deep love for what you do all factor into play when it comes to professional entrepreneurship.
“If you want to succeed in being your own boss, you must always keep track of your progress and give yourself feedback. Learn from your mistakes and compliment yourself when you’re doing something right” – Rom Ozeri
“I think that there are a lot of days where I feel very fulfilled and know that I’m succeeding and able to carve my own path by learning something new, helping someone else or pushing myself and those around me to try new things. There are also hard days where I have to make difficult decisions from staffing to budgets to clients to protecting and growing the company’s vision and culture. Most of those challenges turn into opportunities for growth but sometimes when you are in the midst of it it’s hard to see.” – Melinda Pradarelli