Entrepreneurship is a journey with different stages that help you identify where you are and what you need to do to reach your intended goal.
This is important because you, as the entrepreneur, need to understand that each of the entrepreneurial stages have their own separate challenges and opportunities and you need to make the most of these as they appear.
Always remember – In the journey of entrepreneurship, you are in there for the long haul. You, as an entrepreneur, must grow with your business. This is known as entrepreneurial growth.
Therefore, you must enjoy the journey because it’s as important as the destination.
There is a famous saying by a Chinese Philosopher which states that a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.
Similarly, the entrepreneurial journey begins with the first and most uncomfortable step of getting out of the comfort zone.
Entrepreneurship requires one to lose the security of “normal” circumstances such as secure employment position and enter into a highly volatile environment. There are two circumstances which may force you to take this decision-
- You take this choice as to depart and pursue your vision of venturing into a startup or to remain in the comfortable zone of security without any constrain.
- Or, your entrepreneurial journey may be triggered by unavoidable circumstances such as downsizing, a layoff, or other unexpected changes in the previous employment place.
Whatever may be your reason behind the pursuit of entrepreneurship, know that it is both scary and exciting to venture into it.
That said, considering that the decision might well be one of the biggest decision that you take in your life, it is worthwhile you ask yourself these questions to actually understand where your own motivation lies –
#1. Are you a founder?
Before you jump in, you must be clear about your motivations.
It’s important to ask yourself the following question: “Why am I interested in starting my own company?”
Be clear and honest about your motivations – “Is it the idea of making a difference in the world that excites you or is it something else?”
It is a huge commitment to start a business, especially when the odds are against you.
As such, you must also learn to weigh the pros and cons of the pursuit that you are about to enter.
Pros of entrepreneurship
The best part of entrepreneurship is the complete freedom in doing your own thing and pursuing something you are passionate about. The freedom of not having bosses to report to, or managers peering over your shoulder makes entrepreneurship interesting.
In pursuing entrepreneurship one comes from being employed or being under somebody else to now being the top and the boss whom staff report to.
Working for oneself is very exciting. The entrepreneur is flexible in terms of working hours, working area, and even work description. They get to choose where they want to work from, when to work and what to work on flexibly.
Opening a start-up and getting it on its feet require heavy lifting and a lot of dedication especially because it is the entrepreneur’s dream and their responsibility to make it happen.
Many upcoming entrepreneurs value control and having influence over the direction of the company is one of the most exciting responsibilities of entrepreneurship.
Starting a business is done with the hope of making profits. Therefore as an entrepreneur, instead of making others richer, now the profits can slide right into your own pocket. This means that each business success you encounter translates to personal success.
Therefore, as your business grows, so does your potential income. This can be incredibly motivating for many new entrepreneurs on the path to success. However, a point of warning is that it should never be your sole motivation.
Cons of Entrepreneurship
A business comes with its own set of demands which all lie in the hands of the entrepreneur. Not only is the business’ future in the entrepreneur’s hands but so is their next paycheck.
Depending on an unstable income after coming from a salaried job is difficult but it’s a sacrifice one has to make to pursue their dreams and it may pay off when the business gains stability.
However, till that happens one has to carry the weight of that responsibility.
Starting a business involves many risks such as leaving one’s employment to get into an unstable income venture. Additionally, they risk their investments and time in beginning the business without certainty that it will pay off.
In case the business fails the entrepreneur takes the fall for all the loss and loses all his investments and time and effort put into getting the business on its feet.
A startup is like a baby requiring all your attention, especially in the initial stages. As the vision bearer one must be a hundred percent involve in every work involved to ensure everything goes as they desire. The workload involved in ensuring the business gets off the ground is a lot and the time consumed is also much.
You’ll be the accountant, marketer, service provider, and customer service rep and you must work 2-3 times harder as an entrepreneur verses as an employee. While it may be exciting to work on one’s vision, it may be very exhausting.
Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or advice. Never think that you’re the smartest in the room. It’s self-sabotage! Asking others for help and advice will help you achieve consistent entrepreneurial growth.
Confirm the support from your personal network
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely affair. It is a long-term commitment to start a business. This affects you and the people around you.
This could mean that you work longer hours and have less time with your family or partner. This could mean you have to leave a comfortable job so that you can raise funds for your idea. There will be uncertainty in your life as founder.
Make sure you are able to confirm with your family members and others who may be affected that they have your full support and understand what you are doing.
Starry-eyed optimism in the face of overwhelming odds is what makes it possible to take the leap.
#2. Get to your unique insight. What keeps you up at nights?
Which ‘wrong thing’ would you like to do ‘right?
It is critical for a start-up to understand the problems they solve in order to attain success. Once the proper problem is identified with a sizeable market that needs the solution to the problem, a start is born.
A startup begins with the founder’s vision: a vision of a new product or service that solves a consumer’s problems or needs and of how it will reach its many customers. Customer discovery lowers the odds of the business spending millions to reach out and getting nil return.
Problem analysis before getting into the startup details is crucial in order to focus on the issues faced by many people so as to maximize the company’s value. Market size evaluation alerts the entrepreneur and their partners on the potential business available and also helps in determining the value available for their individual business.
How can one find the next great idea for a startup? Lightning doesn’t often strike in an instant or occur during brainstorming sessions. Many entrepreneurs will relate the story of a problem that they had to face on a daily basis. This was the root cause of their desire to create something that would solve their problems.
These insights are not limited to people who want to start a business.
These are problems you face in your daily life that you believe can be solved in an improved way.
“Necessity the mother of invention.”
One thing has remained constant across all the founder stories that we have looked at is that you must be able to fix a wrong so often that it is almost always in your thoughts.
You must find a common pain and share it with others in order to build a successful company. It is easy to see why authenticity is important.
It’s what gets you through the tough times.
Regardless of the reason for stepping on your path, enjoy the journey and congratulate yourself for the decision that you take.
As the name suggests this is the stage whereby reality kicks in. In fact, this is where the bulk of the journey takes place. In this stage the entrepreneur realizes that it isn’t simple for the world to embrace them with open arms as they had though when they started the business.
As an entrepreneur, this is where you can expect frustration and the agony of lots of setbacks, even failures. Entrepreneurial growth comes from steps of failure and challenges which lead to problem solving discoveries that make the entrepreneur wiser in cultivating growth.
Trials accompanied by challenges contribute majorly to entrepreneurial success. However, no matter how positive the entrepreneur tries to be in this stage, it is very discouraging to encounter the challenges and one can lose hope and even give up.
As we found out in the first stage the journey is as important as the destination therefore, it’s important as an entrepreneur to take the failures as lessons and room for improvement and also develop skills, wit and the mindset to overcome.
Additionally, it’s important to maintain a group of people to act as support system and help through the journey. Keep your good friends and an understanding support group close by to master the challenges and overcome the failures of your entrepreneurial initiation.
As an entrepreneur it is very important for you to evaluate the whole entrepreneurship journey and appreciate how far you have come. Despite the challenges and failures encountered along the way the evaluation process allows you, the entrepreneur, to appreciate the lessons that you have learnt.
The journey changes the entrepreneur’s mindset such that even when the business fails, evaluating the causes of failure ensures that if they launch another startup, they do not make the same mistakes again.
Also iterating and reiterating is a common phase of a startup. Failures are the ultimate form of feedback and if you do not draw proper lessons from them, then it’s your loss.
For example, most technology startups lose out on a first mover advantage, because you forget or deem it inessential to patent their inventions. They think they can’t be bothered about non-essential elements but fail to realize how essential some small elements may be in a business.
But if you do not learn from this mistake, then the whole venture loses any value whatsoever.
Additionally you gain valuable and helpful skills and develop priceless networks along the journey. This makes the entrepreneurial journey totally worth it despite dealing with challenges in the initiation stage or the agony of failure.
Evaluate and Scale
A startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model. An entrepreneur starts a company with the belief that they have a world-changing vision resulting in a million if not Billion Dollar Company. The early days of a scalable startup are about the search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
Usually tech companies are able to scale the best. However, there are some dangers which hamper scalability and can even put your startup in danger –
- Not protecting your intellectual property,
- Not hiring a very good workforce,
- Licensing out your patent and not competing in the market anymore (Side Note: Kodak’s one of the prime examples who had the first mover advantage in digital camera but let it slide in favour of earn quick cash from their patents.)
- Not seeking finance in fear of losing equity,
Scale requires millions of dollars of external venture-capital investment to fuel rapid expansion.
Scalable startups tend to cluster in technology centers making up a small percentage of entrepreneurs, but their return potential attracts almost all the risk capital and press.
This is the place that most entrepreneurs crave for but few manage to achieve. You need to have a solid business plan, constantly evaluate your progress and iterate your business plan and processes constantly to achieve this spot.
But when you get to this point, it’s a bliss. However, most businesses get too content after reaching this point and that’s when they get overtaken by a startup that they never saw coming. For example, Apple swooped in on the phone industry and took it away from Microsoft and so did Google in the search and web industry.
As such, this stage, although being the one that most aspires for, has its own set of challenges and dangers to look out for. Startups are always looking for thin gaps in your action plan to take advantage of and replace you as the business leader. As such, you have to deal with the unique set of challenges, not be too complacent and march forward.
That’s all. Hope you found this article helpful. If you did, don’t forget to give it a share.
Adhip Ray is a startup consultant, the founder of a startup consultancy WinSavvy and an advisor at PatentPC. Although he hails from a finance and legal background with twin specializations on intellectual property rights and corporate law, he has been a marketing geek since 2015! He is also an author at HubSpot, Addicted2Success, StartupNation and several other business publications.