The Internet is filled with different quotes and phrases that define an “entrepreneur”, but there are really few who truly understand the meaning of it. Ask the general crowd who is an entrepreneur and without losing a beat you will get the answer Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or even probably Narayan Murthy.
But for me, being an entrepreneur does not resonate with building up the next Google or Apple. I define it as anything and everything in life that deals with overcoming challenges in different inventive ways. Someone who is a writer, a painter, or conducts workshops is an entrepreneur. The kid next door who is trying to make crafty things from waste is an entrepreneur. If you ask why then it is because every one of them and many others combat their challenges to succeed.
I have learned a lot from being an entrepreneur myself. Several attempts that have failed and the select few which have succeeded, have given me several insights into the job. So here I have a compilation of some lessons which I believe can help some of you out there to get things started or move them ahead. This is my “gyaan (knowledge)” to you, to help you deal with being an entrepreneur which I have learned the hard way over the years.
Forget about Fun: No matter what others might say, believe me, being an entrepreneur is not only tough but will also take away the fun factor from your life. There will be times when you will be filled with extreme hate over the decisions you make, and so I advise you to keep a distance from sharp and falling objects, for your own safety.
If you are bad at sales then don’t start a business: Building a product has become as easy as pouring yourself some milk to drink because you can outsource almost everything!
The true challenge is to find a suitable market and make sales happen. If you are not sure about sales, then take some effort to learn about it and then start with your venture. Because what kind of an entrepreneur would you be if you cannot sell?
Get customers before you have a product: In this world, where the competition is so violent, you must build the demand first. If you have an idea, see how many people are falling for that idea. Without customers, it is going to be very tough to convince venture capitalists to invest in your business.
A fraction of people will buy your product: You conducted a survey and 1000 people said they would buy your product then, in reality, but the number as 30 on paper as only those many will truly buy your product. Accept the fact and take corrective actions to increase this number.
Failure is Okay: Everyone fails, or you can say most of us fail, so don’t treat yourself any different. Start over by learning from your mistakes, and hopefully before your financial resources dry out.
Don’t hire: Of course, you will need people to work for your business but have you really thought if you need all of them?
Earn profits: Before you try to raise money, become profitable. It sounds difficult and it is because money is costly.
Sell only products, even if you call it service: Even if you are offering a service, claim that you are selling a product because products are valued higher in comparison to services.
Validate your idea first: Make sure your idea is worth building a business out of it. Don’t just talk to your friends, make a business plan and start with your business. Do some quality research on your idea. If it is tough to execute, you probably won’t raise money. If it is too easy then it is probably better to sell it.
Can’t get co-founders, your idea probably sucks: If you cannot find people who will work with you on the idea, then probably your idea sucks or even worse you suck at selling your idea to others.
Raising funds: Before you go about seeking funds, make sure you have proof-of-concept, that is, the people are willing and are buying your product. Sell a few hundred before you approach angel investors or venture capitalists.
Securing funds not equal to proof-of-concept: If you received money despite the fact that you do not have proof-of-concept, then it is dumb money. I call it dumb because once you get that, most will turn lazy and never validate the idea. Don’t become lazy and inactive just because you were lucky enough to get funding early in the stage.
Network: Communicate with your employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and investors on a regular Each one is connected to you in their own ways and so reaching out to them helps to build the trust.
Competition: Well, you would like if your product did not have competition in the market, but the truth is that competition is good. It keeps you on the progress path and makes you strive towards the best continuously.
Make customers happy: Even if it means selling them your competitor’s product. It is important to think about your customers first and do everything for them. The more you interact with them, more likely are they to buy your product. Have meals with them, know them, and make them happy because only a happy customer will stay with you longer.
Stay healthy: If you believe, that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to sacrifice your sleep then that’s some serious crap. Working 20 hours a day will not only drain you out but will also make things worse. If you remain healthy, you will deliver a healthy product. Have a sound sleep of at least 6–8 hours, which a normal human body needs. Exercise regularly, which does not mean you need to hit the gym and do push-ups daily. Walking around and eating healthy food is all you need.
Get your Marketing Right: Don’t just mention what amount you will be spending on your marketing in your business plan but also have a proper plan as to what mediums and channels you will use to acquire your customer. Because without customers, your business will just be a building.
Customers buy when they want to buy: That’s harsh reality. You and your team might be working for weeks and months towards your product’s release only to find out that no one wants to buy it even when they told us they liked the product. Why? Because people buy when they want to buy and not when we want to sell.
Be Emotionally Stable: Don’t have personal problems, if you have them, solve them quickly because the more you juggle with your personal and professional life issues, things will start to slip off your hands.
Have happy employees: Have you seen the movie Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, where her company has an in-house masseuse for the employees? Well, that is the stuff I am talking about. Buy your employees gifts, tickets, take them out and do everything that would make them say, “I love my job”.
Keep employees on a leash: Yeah, you made them happy but make sure they are going bonkers within your boundary walls. You need to say “no” to them sometimes, so make sure they do their tricks within the boundaries.
Don’t be a greedy monster: Yes, I know you want to make money but don’t get too greedy when pricing your product. If your product is reasonable, customers will buy. That does not mean it eats into your costs. You can increase the price on upgrades and future products because once you become the next Apple, people will not settle down for oppo.
Brand it: Building your brand is a must and so it doesn’t matter if your initial pricing is cheap. Be authentic and honest and the word will spread like fire.
Reduce risks: Not just for you and your business but for everyone you interact with because everyone fears losing. And if you can help with getting rid of the fear then you are reducing risks for them.
Develop some good content: People won’t buy your product unless they know about it, and to get the word out you need some good content for the readers. Blogs play a big role in acquiring customers.
All that matters is trust: It is not about your product features or what they like, but the bottom line always is trust. Do they trust you enough that they will buy your product or invest in it? That’s the question you must answer.
If an employee is unhappy: Take him/her aside or out of the building. Talk to them and listen to their problems. If they cry, then there is something wrong with your company so listen to them and fix it.
Read: Lots have been changing in the world and almost everything affects the business. Read daily to keep up with what’s going on and how you need to adapt to it.
Throw Parties with your own money: It might seem over the top, but that’s what companies do so invite your customers, investors and employees for the party which is not from the company money but your own.
Don’t go to other Parties: Work while others are Though once in a while is okay, avoid parties and meetups with other entrepreneurs unless it is going to bring you any business.
Although these are the rules that I have learnt from my experience, that does not mean these are universal rules. Your experience might be very different to mine and even some of the rules might change for me in the near future. Being an entrepreneur is not easy and sometimes can be very messy. So simple advice is to follow your heart and earn the riches that you have dreamt of without anyone telling you what to do.
As always, let me know your thoughts on the topic. I’d love to hear your ideas and views in the comments below.
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