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How to Become a More Successful Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship has been on the rise essentially throughout the 21st century. The millennial generation is famously filled with industrious people every bit as interested in creating jobs as finding existing careers. And if anything, Gen Z skews even more in this direction. According to a Fast Company write-up on recent survey numbers, more than half of the people in this generation “hope to run their own business within the next 10 years.”
This makes for an exciting time, and naturally for a great deal of innovation across industries. As fascinating as it is to see so many young people starting businesses though, it must also be noted that the environment for startups is now extremely competitive. If you happen to be looking to become an entrepreneur yourself today, you need to press every advantage and adopt every helpful strategy in order to give your business the chance to succeed.
This can mean different things for different businesses. In general, though, there are some crucial steps you can take to become a more successful entrepreneur within this competitive environment.
Find a Mentor
Often enough the most heralded success stories in entrepreneurship concern lone figures who strike it rich through a combination of talent, inventiveness, and — if we’re being realistic — luck! Because these stories tend to dominate, it’s easy to think of entrepreneurs as people who don’t need guidance. Look past the headline-grabbing success stories and focus on the average startup, however, and you’ll find that mentorship is a key ingredient more often than not. Successful entrepreneurs today seek out advice and assistance from people with more experience, be they college professors, alumni network connections, investors, friends, elder partners, or anything of the sort. No one knows how to make a business work the first time, and for this simple reason finding a mentor can help give you a leg up.
Participate in Education
Another misconception about entrepreneurship in the 2020s is that it is necessarily pursued as an alternative to higher education. The “college dropout” narrative is strong (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg), and even beyond undergraduate studies many now assume that it’s more important to get started with a business venture than continue on to graduate school. The reality however is that this is a false choice, and particularly with the advent of remote, online education, plenty of entrepreneurs wind up participating in school and working on their own businesses. Now, this is a lot of work, and it’s not necessary just for the sake of attending school. Participating in business-related education, however, has its perks. Per a Maryville University explainer on online master’s in business administration degrees, students can earn MBAs in as little as one year’s worth of entirely internet-based classes. The MBA is by no mean a requirement in entrepreneurism, but it will certainly open some doors and lend you credibility in the eyes of potential partners, investors, and clients.
Learn Business (Not Just Your Idea)
To expand on the notion of participating in education as an entrepreneur, we’d also note specifically that you should learn fundamental business principles — as opposed to focusing solely on your idea. Many if not most people who start businesses are following passions or focusing on inventions, rather than honing in on the general building blocks of a successful company. Ultimately, this is why founders seek out partners and make high-level hires. As you’re getting started though, it’s wise to educate yourself in some of the fundamentals of what it takes to run and maintain a business. This is another benefit of pursuing an MBA even as an entrepreneur, and it will help ensure that all the effort you’re putting into your idea will be worthwhile.
We alluded to the notion that entrepreneurs are sometimes viewed mistakenly as lone talents above. Again though, the truth is that most people who make it in this space have help, and not just in the form of mentors. As one professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has argued, “entrepreneurism is a team sport.” And research shows that two-person entrepreneurial “teams” have a greater chance of success than individuals (with three-person teams doing even better). This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to succeed on your own. But most successful new businesses are built by small teams, which is certainly something to consider as you think about how to make it as an entrepreneur.
Prioritize Your Venture
This seems like an obvious point. But as much as younger generations today are known for starting their own businesses, they’re also known for relying on side ventures, and pursuing multiple income streams at once. There are certainly cases when this works out for the best, but by and large most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that you ought to live and breathe your primary venture. Think of it this way: If you’re multitasking, someone you’re in competition with is undoubtedly devoting every waking hour to his or her alternative business. Getting ahead usually requires similar dedication.
Last but not least, remember to insure yourself and your business! As is expressed in our ‘I Need Insurance Now!’ guide, there are all kinds of reasons for people to consider this step, and a lot of up-and-coming entrepreneurs may not think of them until it’s too late. Most important of all to a prospective business owner is to pursue liability research. This is essentially a safeguard against various potential damages and legal challenges that can easily cripple a small business that is left unprotected. It does represent another early expense in your startup process, but by securing proper insurance you can give your business protection that a lot of competitors will lack.
XINSURANCE can provide coverage solutions for entrepreneurs, new businesses, and startups and provide direct underwriting and customization as well as risk management expertise. We’re here to help when an incident, claim, or lawsuit occurs, providing claims management and superior results.
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Written by Eleanor Baker for xinsurance.com.