The Entrepreneur’s Checklist for Success
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. That’s not to say it’s reserved for a special elite, it simply means that entrepreneurs are cut from a different cloth, and are driven by different values than others.
Think of the most successful entrepreneurs, from Mark Zuckerberg to Oprah Winfrey. Each entrepreneur has their own history and identity, but what binds them together are a few constant values. We’ve distilled these values in a simple checklist for entrepreneurs from any industry.
Entrepreneurs don’t answer to a higher authority, but that does mean being the boss of yourself. While you may think it’s great not having to answer to anyone, you have to learn the ability to stay motivated. That means sticking to deadlines, even if they’re self-assigned, and finding ways to track the tasks you need to do.
Motivated entrepreneurs find ways to stay productive. Whether it’s employing a GTD (Getting Things Done) system, or working out the in the morning, find a way to get up in the morning and finish the work you need to do.
Some people work best when they’re alone and have a private space to plan and think. Consider looking into a private office in a city near you. It may be what you need to start moving forward with your plans.
2. Sales Skills
You don’t have to be a salesperson, but you do need to have the ability to sell someone on something. Any time you’ve convinced someone to spend more than they would have, to purchase something they were on the fence about getting, means using sales skills. How can you make your idea attractive to others, whether it’s your users or your employees? Why should consumers trust you over other competitors?
If you want to improve your sales skills, the best way to practice is with other people. Develop a sales pitch, consider the financial side of your venture, and talk with other investors and stakeholders. Sales skills are not taught, they’re learned from actual experience dealing with other people, from actually selling something.
3. Public Speaking Abilities
Even if you’re a shy or introverted person, an entrepreneur cannot convey his vision without speaking in front of a group. It could be in front of the development team, a customer’s family, or pitching to an investment group. No one expects a professional orator, it just means having enough confidence in the words you say, and the actions you take. No matter who you are talking to you should be able to look them in the eye and speak with authenticity.
Practice speaking in public, or going to networking events to meet others. The best way to practice public speaking skills is in real social situations. As long as you stay your genuine self, and believe in the things you say, people won’t question your speaking ability.
The entrepreneur’s path to success is rife with distractions and challenges. Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you it won’t be easy, but the journey will be worth it. What separates true entrepreneurs from imitators are the ones who face adversity, whether it’s a rough financial season or troubled development, but stay hungry enough to achieve. True leaders see the opportunity when everyone else is losing their heads.
Don’t be afraid to fail, because you will. In fact, you’ll fail many times. What’s most important is to not let the failure overcome your journey, and to understand that the failure is part of the journey. Entrepreneurs are about risks, and risk-taking can mean accepting failure and moving on anyway!
5. Planning Skills
Contrary to common beliefs, entrepreneurs do have plans. In fact, they have to plan out their day and the brand’s goals each month. That can mean getting an early morning start or setting milestones and deadlines for each key project.
Entrepreneurs have to be good at planning because they know that planning reduces risk and failure. The best entrepreneurs don’t always have a fully fleshed out plan, but they do have an idea of where they are, where they want to go, and how they’re going to get there.
Entrepreneurs aren’t just trying to start a business- they really believe in the core idea behind the brand, whether it’s a good cause or a new way of living. They put their life, their finances, and their time towards this goal because they believe in its potential. Others may not agree or even understand, but they won’t be able to deny that you are fully a believer in a certain idea, whether it’s ensuring global access to basic utilities, or just providing affordable legal services.
Ask yourself whether your startup or your business is really what you believe in. Does it match your core beliefs and identity? As an entrepreneur, you have a greater responsibility- you have the ability to direct money and labor towards something that serves a greater cause beyond the daily activities.
Check out this TED Talk by Paul Tasner, the 77-year-old entrepreneur behind biodegradable consumer goods packaging.
At the end of the day, entrepreneurs are the ones that need to believe in themselves, the idea, the team, and the work. They’re the ones to blame if things don’t go well, and they’re the ones who direct people’s skills to the highest priority task. That means being able to confidently speak to someone working on the product, or someone purchasing it, or potential ventures. It means taking responsibility for losses and distributing the rewards.
Nobody can tell you how to be a leader, but one of the best ways to learn is by following. Become part of a real team, and ask people for their input- what are they concerned about, and what do they want to focus on? Give each person a fair amount of time and listen to what they have to say.
That doesn’t mean you should vote every time you’re in a dilemma, but it means weighing all the costs and benefits of every situation and inspiring the group to move forward together.
The Entrepreneur’s Journey
These are only 7 values we believe all entrepreneurs share, regardless of their age, gender, race, or country of origin, but you don’t need to have all of these values right now to be an entrepreneur. Some of these values you will have to learn on your own journey. Experience is the best teacher.
Entrepreneurs aren’t defined by what they wear or where they’re from, they’re defined by the things they say and do. The most successful ones realize these values tie them closer to other entrepreneurs, and their success largely stems from universal values that can be learned by anyone.