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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

How To Overcome 5 Excuses That Kill Entrepreneurship

Sometimes what’s stopping you is you: Telling the difference between caution and fear, between addressing risks and making them up.

Ravin Gandhi

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Paper-shreader

You’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and you finally have your business idea. It’s a great idea that solves a huge problem in an elegant way.

This idea can scale, and go global. There’s no one in the space today, or the existing players are weak. You think about this idea day and night, and you dream about starting the company and making it real. But, for some reason you just can’t do it. It just seems too risky…plus you have a great job. Sound familiar?

Many people simply talk themselves out of starting their own business. Before I started my company, I had a million thoughts about why it was an insane idea. In retrospect, I see that what I thought were legitimate fears were just excuses.

Below are the most common reasons I have heard from peers about why they can’t start a business, and some advice on how to get past the issue:

1. “It’s not the right time.”

I know people who became entrepreneurs as teenagers, and others who started their first company in their 60s.

Related: 10 Steps To Starting Your Business For Free (Almost)

Here’s a secret that anyone that has started a business knows: There is NEVER a right time. It just does not exist. You can always convince yourself that you need more money, experience, time, connections, confidence, skills, business acumen…the list goes on and on.

My advice? Have faith that now is actually the perfect time. A year or two after you have started your business, you will see that it absolutely was.

2. “What if it fails?”

Burning-armchair

Entrepreneurs tend to be people who are filled with such confidence that they don’t focus on any chance of failure. But the tough fact is that 80 percent of businesses fail within the first 18 months, and it can be paralysing to face those odds.

My recommendation is to embrace the possibility of failure. Why? Because if you fail, you will learn something tremendously valuable about yourself, about business, and about life.

You may start another business, or you might realise that entrepreneurship isn’t for you. But if you don’t try, you will simply never know, and the fear of failure should never stop you from doing anything.

Remember, people who are on their deathbed usually regret the things they didn’t do, not the things they did.

3. “I haven’t saved enough money.”

Many people who aspire to start businesses are the primary breadwinner in their family, and they cannot afford to live without a salary coming in. I recommend that anyone who starts a business save enough money to live for 18 months without income coming in.

If your business hasn’t gotten enough traction within 18 months to produce income, and you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, then you can shut the business down and get a job with the satisfaction of having given entrepreneurship a shot.

What I like about the “18 month rule” is that it provides clarity to yourself (and perhaps your spouse), and it makes it easier to quit a lucrative job because you have a plan.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

4. “People don’t see me as an entrepreneur.”

view-of-the-world

First of all, as a budding entrepreneur you have to ignore what others think of you because there will always be doubters in your life. Avoid those people if you can. But more importantly, if you take the leap and start your business, you will be stunned at how fast people who were originally naysayers will see you as a born entrepreneur.

Perception is reality, and when you are the boss, you will be seen as a leader despite the fact that you used to be (for instance) a customer service manager, a payroll clerk, or a janitor. In America, people respect those who have taken a chance and put their reputation, capital, and career on the line.

5. “It just seems so hard.”

You’re right. Starting a business is very hard. It might be the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life.

You will lose sleep, fight with your spouse, have less time for your kids, and potentially lose all of your money. Have I scared you yet? I hope so. Because there is no getting around this one – if you aren’t ready to work your tail off and get your hands very dirty, don’t even think about starting a business.

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs on What They Wish They’d Known Before Starting Their Businesses

If starting a business was easy, everyone would do it. The easy decision is to keep working for that secure pay cheque, and that’s exactly why most people don’t start companies. My advice is to be very honest with yourself, and if you know deep down that you can make it work, then take that leap of faith and make it work.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Ravin Gandhi is CEO and co-founder of GMM Nonstick Coatings, one of the world's largest suppliers of nonstick coatings to the $9 billion housewares industry. Ravin also moonlights as a VC investor and has invested in technology companies such as KeyMe, Tred, Ampsy, Lettrs and Hester Biosciences.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

3 Dangerous Entrepreneurial Myths You Need To Ignore

This terrible advice won’t actually get you anywhere.

Entrepreneur

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Entrepreneurial Myths

We’ve all heard the numbers about how hard it is to build a long-lasting business. While there are many factors at play to get there, without effective marketing and sales a business cannot survive.

Unfortunately, there is a multitude of dangerous and destructive marketing advice swirling around the heads of vulnerable entrepreneurs. Like vultures seeking their next meal, “gurus” pontificate nonsense that these hard-working business owners follow, only to discover that what they tried doesn’t work.

Often, once the damage is done, it is too late for them to do anything else about it.

If you want to not only survive, but thrive, here is some of the terrible advice you need to start ignoring:

1“You need to be everywhere”

I’m sorry, but how do these people sleep at night without the use of narcotics? “Experts” spew out dribble to make headlines saying you need to get on Snapchat, get on Periscope, do YouTube Live … be everywhere! They’ll say you need to get on this platform or that social media network. Oh, and use LinkedIn Live! And make sure to post on Instagram three times a day and Facebook twice a day. And don’t forget those Facebook Lives. Make sure to do them every day.

Related: The Journey Of Entrepreneurship: How The Tough Get Going

ACK! Just writing that paragraph stressed me out. How the heck are you supposed to be on all of those channels, never mind doing it all effectively, and still run your business? Of course you can’t. And you shouldn’t. (Unless self-torture is your thing, in which case have at it. There are books about that, but I’m not giving any titles because I’d have to Google them and then I’d be retargeted by the ads and that would just be gross.)

It is impossible to spend even half an hour on each major network and still get any work done. Forget about focusing on measurement, profit and return on investment. They don’t mention that on purpose, because then these crazy-pants suggestions would really make no sense. But, then these “experts” would stop making the headlines, so they keep serving up spoiled advice for the poor folk who chow down and then get sick on it.

Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to their plots of deception. Demand strategies that value your time and produce results in a significant and measurable way quickly.

2“It takes money to make money”

cash-flow-management

I didn’t take the easy way out. I am part of a group of scrappy entrepreneurs who have a lot of hustle and heart and little/no/negative funds. I didn’t come from family money, and the big banks certainly weren’t lending to businesses like mine.

The only way I was going to get a big pile of cash was if I won the lottery. And since I’ve only played about four times in the last decade, the chances of that happening were slim. What I had to find was the same thing you most likely want – a solution to predictably bring in customers when there is no marketing budget to play with.

3The Schmo-bags

The worst are who I call the “Ferrari Marketers.” They rent a sportscar for an hour or two, hang out in front of it and then sell us shiny object strategies that they haven’t even used in their own business.

Related: 6 Timeless Strategies That Drive Successful Entrepreneurship

They are abhorrent, hideous and dangerous. Not only are they crooks stealing the money of the people who are seeking a solution from them, but they may prevent really talented people who have a gift/service/product/offer to share that can help someone else from ever reaching them.

Did I mention they suck?

But, once you discover a game-changing system, you are responsible for implementing it. You can’t be distracted by shiny objects any longer.

As Jack Welch says, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Don’t allow yourself to be enticed or distracted by fads or the “latest and greatest/not greatest” new social media strategy, channel or tactic.

Once you uncover how to truly get results, be strong-willed and stubborn. Repel any idea, strategy or initiative that requires you to keep spending money to make money. If you keep throwing dollars and time at a goal, hoping and wishing that it will work, yet not tracking or measuring the results and scaling accordingly, then you cannot expect results.

Start measuring, tracking and demanding results from your time and money, rising above others and landing in the successful minority that thrives instead of survives.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

5 Mindset Changes You Must Make When Going From Employee To Entrepreneur

As one prominent author wrote, “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when we are tired. We finish when we are done.”

Sujan Patel

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entrepreneurship-mindset

Thousands of people dream of the day they can quit their jobs and escape the 9-to-5 life. In fact, Gallup found that 87 percent of the employees it surveyed worldwide did not see themselves as engaged.

But quitting your job and starting your own business is only half the battle. You need to prepare to be an entrepreneur. Besides getting your finances in order and having a plan in place, you also need to prepare your mind.

Your habits dictate your success, and if you’re still stuck in that 9-to-5 mindset, your endeavors will fail. You must adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and start thinking the way the world’s top leaders do.

Being an entrepreneur is very different than being an employee, and the way you envision it may be completely off base. Here are five changes you must make to your thinking in order to prepare yourself for the realities of being an entrepreneur.

1Train your mind to think outside the box

Once you leave your office job, you’re no longer confined by corporate life. That means you need to open your mind to new possibilities – possibilities that may not have been an option in your old life.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

In an article for TIME magazineWarren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said, “People will always try to stop you doing the right thing if it is unconventional.” In short, others may not see your vision, but you can’t let that stop you. You need to be creative with your business, offer something new and be different to be successful.

2Develop both short-term and long-term vision

Albert Einstein once told the New York Times, “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”

That new type of thinking needs to be focused on a strategic goal. You must have a vision for your company – an idea of where you’re going and how you’ll get there.

As an entrepreneur, you are the leader of your company, and your team members are looking to you to show them the path to success.

What’s your plan? You should be able to see the big picture as well as all of the steps it will take to reach your main goal. Then, you must communicate that vision to those on your team and ensure they each understand their individual roles in the plan.

3Let it all fall on your shoulders

stress-on-shoulders

Becoming an entrepreneur can be scary. Your success is now completely dependent on the work that you do. You can no longer fall back on a salary or benefits.

As an employee, if you had a bad day at work, you were still paid your salary, regardless. But as an entrepreneur, if your business isn’t successful, you won’t make any money. Plus, you now have others relying on you for their livelihood.

Ryan Farley is a typical example of corporate employee-turned-entrepreneur, quitting a fast-paced finance job to start lawn care marketplace LawnStarter Lawn Care. “I was used to working extremely long hours in the corporate finance world,” Farley told me. “I thought that would have conditioned me well, but nothing can prepare you for this amount of stress.

“It’s pretty common for founders to have the stress get so bad it affects your physical and mental health,” Farley continued. “But you have to press on, and you’re better off for it.” Prominent entrepreneurs like Brad Feld and Mark Suster, have expressed similar sentiments.

Working for yourself also means you need to be your own motivator. You no longer have a boss hounding you to get your work done. You need to stay organised and focused, and you’re going to have to be comfortable with hard work and long hours.

Related: 8 Mindsets That Will Set You On The Path To Success

4Get ready to be a jack of all trades

As an entrepreneur, you can’t say “That’s not my job.” Every job is your job now. There’s no one else to pick up the slack but you. You need to make sure everything in your business continues to run on track, and that may mean doing work you aren’t used to doing. You may need to be the accounting department, IT, marketing and more in addition to leading your company.

Entrepreneurs wear many different hats and are constantly learning new skills and working hard. If you think becoming an entrepreneur means you get to sit back and kick your feet up, you’d better stick to your day job.

As entrepreneur, author and investor Robert Kiyosaki has written on Twitter, “Entrepreneurs don’t finish when we are tired. We finish when we are done.”

5Be flexible, focused and positive

Attitude is everything in business. You can’t let challenges get in the way of your dream. Entrepreneurs need to be optimistic and stay focused on their goals. Your passion must drive you.

Related: An Entrepreneurial Mindset – Why And How To Develop One

As Steve Jobs once said in an interview with the Smithsonian Institution, “Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So, you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that’s half the battle right there.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Passion Is The Key To Entrepreneurial Success

Marine Louw chose to leave the relative security of a professional corporate career to go out on her own 28 years ago. What lessons can we learn from this successful entrepreneur as we kick off our feature on women in business?

Morné Stoltz

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passionate-about-business

It’s important that we understand what motivates an individual to start a business, because the small business sector is the biggest current employer of labour, and is widely considered to be our best chance of tackling our current high levels of unemployment.

According to BANKSETA, small, medium and micro enterprises (SMEs) are estimated to provide employment to up to 60% of the South African labour force. No surprise then that the National Development Plan says that “most new jobs are likely to be sourced in domestic-orientated businesses, and in growing small and medium-sized firms.”

Related: CEO Of The Hospice South Africa Shares Why Compassion And Passion Are Critical To Success

And yet, despite their importance to the economy and society as a whole, the truth is that entrepreneurs have to overcome many challenges – and 70% to 80% of them fail. South Africa, in particular, has one of the highest failure rates for new businesses.

In other words, creating and sustaining a successful business is rare.

With an Honours in Industrial Sociology and a Higher Diploma in Education, Marine Louw could have built a corporate career. Instead, some 28 years ago, she elected to build her own company in the fashion sector. Her company, Bonufusion, imports high-end ladies’ fashion from Europe and wholesales the garments to boutiques around the country.

The unique value proposition is that the garments are imported in small quantities to maintain exclusivity. Garments are often modified here with perfect finishing touches, and to suit local tastes.

Marine explains her motivation for leaving behind the safer corporate world: “It was key for me to find my passion, completely believing in my talent and abilities and then choosing to create a business where I could live my passion.”

She also makes it clear that to a certain extent she was actively retreating from a workstyle that did not appeal to her, especially corporate red tape and the time wasted in meetings. If you are running your own business, she says, there are no boundaries or ceilings, and you can choose how you spend your time – in her case, growing the business, selling and keeping customers happy.

Related: A 4-Step Guide To Realistically Pursuing Your Passion

When it comes to obtaining finance, the entrepreneur’s passion and commitment are also paramount, Marine believes. The entrepreneur is the business, so the financier will be investing in him or her, essentially. “It’s up to you to be so passionate about your dream that you will inspire the investor to invest not just in the business opportunity, but in you as a person,” she explains.

This passion and commitment are also essential to overcome the inevitable setbacks and challenges that will arise. “In all circumstances, maintain a positive attitude – yes, it’s hard to achieve, but it can be done,” she advises.

Marine says that a key success factor in any business is networking based on word of mouth referrals from happy customers. Customers that are happy are always ready to share the good news that they have a supplier that delivers.

“Good service, great product and a positive attitude equals good business. It will only happen if customers believe they are dealing with a reliable business,” she says. “There are four key points to remember when you start out: Find your passion, believe in your ability, work 24 hours a day when necessary, and be prepared to give everything up to live your dream – or don’t bother to start!”

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