How To Become A (Successful) Entrepreneur

How To Become A (Successful) Entrepreneur


How much money have you made for yourself? If the answer is anything other than, ‘lots’, then you’re a failed or mediocre entrepreneur. So the question is not: How do I become an entrepreneur? The question is: How do I become a successful entrepreneur?

Hard work and luck play a big part, but the most important factor is focus. If you want success, you must focus. Focus is not a ‘willpower thing,’ it’s an ‘environment thing’. You need to create an environment that removes distractions. Especially if, like most entrepreneurs, you have attention deficit disorder.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

First comes marriage

Start by getting married. Seriously. Marriage simplifies your life. Once you remove the mating urge you’ll find a mountain of freed time. No more messaging, fantasising, flirting or dating.

You’ll also have fewer hangovers as you no longer have an incentive to get blind drunk every night in the hope that the love of your life will find you attractive in a comatose state. Fewer hangovers mean waking up earlier and working harder.

With marriage, your overheads shrink. You can share rent. Your spouse can pay the bills whilst you get your business off the ground. Your spouse will also keep you grounded when you’re flying high, and pick you up when you crash.

Your spouse will help you find business partners. No one knows how you’ll relate to people like your spouse. And of course, marriage brings children, which is one of the ultimate providers of perspective.

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That said, you must marry the right person. But you never know who you’ve truly married until you’re married, which is why you should marry young. Just as in business, success is simple: Fail fast. If you marry the wrong person, don’t panic – divorce and get married again.

Now comes finance

After marriage comes finances. Manage your personal finances conservatively. Financial stress is a focus-killer. If you’re in the trenches, hustling, you don’t want to be worried about rent or school fees.

Stay out of debt, take calculated risks and keep your overheads low. Some people will advise you to roll the dice and follow your dreams. “Step off the cliff and build wings on the way down,” they’ll say. Ignore them.

By all means, chase your dreams. Just don’t do it without wings (or a parachute). The easiest way to reduce financial stress is to live a simple live – no debt, no fancy car, no expensive wife or husband.

Driving a 2003 Honda Jazz may not get you laid, but it will get you from A to B just as easily as a luxury German car. Live a simple life so you can focus on your business. 

Find a business partner

You need partners you can trust and that complement your skills. You can’t focus if you’re forever looking over your shoulder or micro-managing. Finding a business partner is like finding a spouse. A crowded bar or Tinder are not the best places.

Make it easy for them to find you. Put yourself out there. Tell people your dream of starting a business. Share your million-dollar idea.

The easiest way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them. Give people an early opportunity to screw you. Then move on quickly.

Related: How Merchant Capital And Retroviral Were Built To Sell

Find your base

Lastly, if you want to focus you must live in the right place. Your geography determines your friends, your ideas, and your lifestyle. Live in a town or suburb with few distractions. Stay clear of people who loaf around, drink or party all night. Find friends who are focused.

Stay clear of situations that stress you and minimise the time you spend in your car every day. Stay clear of places where it’s easy to spend money. Live far from shopping malls. Live in a small house so you can’t fit new stuff in.

Keep moving until you find what you’re looking for, then stop moving. Minimise the moving parts. Life is complicated and distracting enough as it is, so find the path that allows you to focus. That way lies success.

Alan Knott-Craig
Alan Knott-Craig is a successful entrepreneur and best selling author. Founder of over 20 companies in the tech space, he was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2009.

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