In an economy where there are fewer jobs and a greater of number competing candidates, it’s never made more sense to be your own boss. As a 25-year-old entrepreneur who has recently started his own business, I’m fast learning how much fun you can have blazing a trail on your own.
But I often encounter people who think the idea is nothing but a pipe dream, and that working for a boss in a job they don’t like is the hand they have been dealt in life. I’m here to counter that argument. Not only is entrepreneurship a very real reality, it actually needs to be promoted more heavily in South Africa.
1. Do what you enjoy
Malcolm Gladwell argued that you need to spend 10, 000 hours to master something in his book, Outliers. The theory argues that you aren’t simply born good at something, but need to invest a considerable amount of time to reach the level you want.
And if you’re going to spend 10, 000 hours doing something, why not make sure you enjoy it?
The theory illustrates why entrepreneurs who pursue their passion are often the most successful.
2. Anyone can do it
You don’t need to be Bill Gates to be an entrepreneur. Nor do you need to be Bill Gates to be considered successful.
Success can be defined in many ways. There’s monetary wealth, of course, but also happiness, freedom and the notion of spending time doing what you enjoy.
If you’re working a 9-5 job you don’t enjoy and making R15 000 a month, what do you need to earn working alone to be happy?
Work that out, and re-evaluate what you define as success.
3. Not every idea is good
Sadly, not every idea makes good business sense, but when you’re really attached to your project, it can be possible to attain the necessary perspective to let go.
Often, it’s tempting to ask family and friends for their critical opinion, only to receive flattery in return. Families are preoccupied with your feelings, not your fortunes, and tend to be a poor judge of whether your business makes sense.
If you’re looking for a second opinion, ask an impartial outsider who won’t be afraid to tell you right from wrong.
4. Enjoy what you do
The minute you start finding your work a slog, you might as well give up. The most successful entrepreneurs enjoy their work so much they don’t even consider it work.
Sure, every person has good days and bad days, but if your passion wanes for too long, the motivation to make it a success won’t be there.
Not only is it easier to enjoy what you’re doing when you’re working for yourself – it’s absolutely crucial.
5. Work smart
You need to work incredibly hard to get your business off the ground – but you also need to work smart. For instance, burying your nose in reams of emails every morning is certainly hard work, but it’s unlikely to take your business to the next level.
Outsource tasks you don’t have time for, and concentrate on your core strengths.
6. Be assertive. It’ll help
As a young entrepreneur, you’ll often encounter people are more experienced than you and versed in the art of getting their way.
A word of advice: Don’t allow anyone to routinely get what they want.
Stick to what you believe in and dig your heels in if you have to. It doesn’t do you any good to be seen as a pushover, and word travels fast.
7. At the same time, stay humble
For me, staying humble is absolutely crucial. The minute you lose your humility you’re setting yourself up for failure. People can spot arrogance a mile away.
In reality, no one has the right to think they know it all: because they don’t, and the minute you start believing your own hype you’ll fail to spot a potential curveball until it’s too late.
8. Consider the idea of working remotely
People like Tim Ferriss are championing entrepreneurship in new and exciting ways, and one of Ferriss’ claims is that location is entirely irrelevant.
Why should an internet entrepreneur go into an office every day when he or she can work anywhere in the world?
People like Ferriss are paving the way for young entrepreneurs to challenge the norms of deskbound duties, 9-5.
9. Take risks!
Risk tasking is a big part of being your own boss. It means giving up on the idea of a steady pay check and sacrificing time and money to make your business a success.
As long as you trust your instincts and learn from your mistakes, risk-taking will take your venture to the next level.
In the end, I’d like to see more and more people become their own boss in South Africa. With better access to the internet, laptops and cell phones, it’s never made more sense to be your own boss. Better yet, with Google at your fingertips and resources like Entreprenuer.com to help you along, there’s help at hand.
Don’t be afraid to take the risk – you won’t regret it.