How do you become a successful entrepreneur? Resilience is certainly necessary, but what other factors are important?
Each year, thousands of men and women embark on an often bumpy journey to entrepreneurship. Filled with motivation, they are determined to bring their vision to life and fill a gap in the market.
By definition, an entrepreneur is doing (or trying to do) something that has never been done before. Through launching a disruptive tech startup, setting up a specialised agency or opening a physical shop, there are many ways for entrepreneurs to bring a new product or service to the marketplace.
Arguably, one of the most important factors in becoming a successful entrepreneur is getting the offering right. Be it a product or a service, it needs to have a place in society. Natural innovators are successful thanks to their ability to fill a need identified in society that’s yet to be explored. Either no one’s thought of the idea, or perhaps predecessors simply lacked the skills or expertise to venture forth.
Coping with risk
There’s also an element of right time, right place as the marketplace often experiences sudden changes, both for the better and worse. In some instances, existing dominant companies may feel ideas are too risky, developing resistance to innovation and therefore leaving an open door for the right entrepreneur.
There’s no denying that entrepreneurship carries risk. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Much of this risk occurs in a company’s infancy, deciding whether to take the initial plunge, raising funds from friends and family or investing in growth.
Opening up shop is often a lonely route to take. While small business government grants are available, there are only approximately 200 reserved for UK businesses each year. Competition is high and the chances of successfully securing a grant are slim. Many entrepreneurs therefore turn to personal loans, family and friends or private investors.
While early risks can pay off and set the business off to a flying start, nine times out of ten this isn’t the case and the business is stopped in its tracks. The ‘Startup Genome Report Extra on Premature Scaling’ states that 90% of all startups fail, for example. The statistics are grim, and the outlook for women is even bleaker. With female-led startups getting just 1p for every £1 of VC investment, they’re already starting on the back foot.
Why so many entrepreneurs?
The early struggles and disheartening statistics associated with being a startup don’t seem to deter budding entrepreneurs. Motivations for starting up on your own can be very specific and often personal, although most are spurred on by one of four reasons.
- Working for yourself, setting goals and running your business as you see fit
- Proving a point and creating a legacy that stands the test of time
- Establishing financial security and success
- Following a moral or ethical purpose
Helen Scott: CEO of Eris FX
Eris FX is a good example of reason four. Its owner Helen Scott founded the business 12 years ago.
Championing transparency, Helen is a strong believer in empowering customers to make their own decisions surrounding money transfers and international payments, and does so by clearly showing live exchange rates upfront on its website.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur
The billion-dollar question, which everyone wants to know the answer to, is ‘What’s the key to success?’ It’s not an easy one to answer. Some of it comes down to luck and good timing. Successful entrepreneur Alexander Graham Bell, for example, filed his patent just two hours before Elisha Gray and entered the history books as the inventor of the telephone.
However, becoming a successful entrepreneur can’t be entirely down to timing. Channeling certain personality traits is vital. Having passion, persisting through the bad times as well as the good, and showing resilience in the face of knock backs are all key to a prosperous career.
Belief in the process and journey is paramount. Entrepreneurs will no doubt face resistance along the way. After all no one else in the industry will want to see their competitors succeed.
As Margaret Thatcher once said: ‘‘You do not achieve anything without trouble, ever.” It’s important to keep going even when faced with failure, and not to let failure define the end result.