How to Become an Entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is someone who creates his or her own business. Here’s how to become your own boss.
1. Think of a great idea. If a great idea comes to you, evaluate if it is realistic. Think of cost, manufacturing time, and popularity. Ask and record if people would actually buy the product. If you don’t have an idea yet, it is a good start to think of your target market first. Then brainstorm a list of things like places they shop, things they like, and things you like. Narrow the list down to about three items, keeping cost, manufacturing time, and popularity in mind. Find the easiest, most realistic product.
Or, think of a terrible idea. Really, you can’t tell if a business idea is great or terrible until you try it in a real marketplace. Years later, the successful ideas are “obviously” good, but when they first began, most people rejected them. Google is one of the most famous examples—”Search is done. Does the world need yet another search engine?”—but many less-spectacular successes have strong arguments against them. There is always a good reason against a good idea. It doesn’t really matter how good your initial idea is, because you’re going to change it, anyway. “Investors invest in people, not business plans. Early-stage investors know that great people can make a mediocre idea work, but mediocre people can’t make a great idea work.”—Don Dodge.
2. Write a business plan. Include details and descriptions, and plan everything out realistically. Take your time and evaluate your product at each section. The sections of a good business plan include:
- Product description: develop your product. What will it look like? What materials will you need? Make your product eye-catching.
- Market Analysis: Who is your market? Where do they shop? Where are they located?
- Competition: Who is your competition? What are their strengths? How will you beat them?
- Marketing: How will you market your product? What kind of image do you want to display? Where will you advertise? What is your tagline? What is your packaging like?
- Sales: Where will you sell? How will you get your customers to buy? When will you sell? What is your estimated sales forecast?
- Manufacturing: How do you make your product? Explain this in detailed steps. What materials do you need to make your product? When and where will you manufacture?
- What is your COGS (cost of goods sold)?
- Finance: how much money do you need to start your business? What is your gross profit?
Or, don’t write a business plan. A business plan is a work of fiction, anyway. If you don’t have much experience in business, or the market is new and unknown, a business plan might be a waste of time, or, worse, a path to self-delusion. “In all my years in startups and all my work with VCs I don’t ever recall seeing a written business plan. The fact is that investors do not read them.”—Don Dodge. Plan just enough to make your first sale. The main thing is to make at least one customer happy, and complete the entire cycle of “make product, sell product” as quickly as possible. Then you will have a business, and then you might be in a position to understand some problems of the sort that extensive planning can help solve.
3. Pitch your idea to Venture Capitalists to get money to start your company. If you have a good idea, they will love to invest their money in your company. Make a PowerPoint presentation explaining why your product is the best, including each part of your business plan in the presentation. Tell them how much your estimated gross profit is and how much percentage of that they will earn in interest.
Or, don’t look for or accept funding. Striking a deal with venture capitalists is a long, tiresome, difficult, and dangerous process. In the early days of a business, it can be a catastrophic distraction. “Distraction is fatal to start-ups.”—Paul Graham. Many VCs are not set up to make you successful. A wonderful success for you might be to earn $80,000 a year doing work you love. Starting small and pleasing a small number of customers at first is a high-probability way to get there. A VC will not allow such a success to happen, because a VC’s strategy is to become a billionaire by rolling the dice on many low-probability but potentially gigantic-returning businesses. The price you pay for taking on a VC is control: control of your dream. If you can get the business started without spending a lot of money, that might be your best route.
4. Sell. Sell and distribute your product. If you’re getting revenue, then you’re in business. You’re testing your theories about the market, you’re finding out what really works and what doesn’t, and you’re getting fuel for more ideas and improvements. If you’re not getting revenue, then it’s all in your head.
5. Hang out with entrepreneurs. By meeting entrepreneurs socially, you gain contacts and hear about opportunities. More importantly, you learn how entrepreneurs think. You pick up their attitudes, their nose for opportunity, their willingness to explore every idea and its opposite (they know that often both work), their contrarian nature, the great diversity in their styles.
Make sure your business plan is perfect before moving on; this will make your business run a lot more smoothly. Here are some advantages of a perfect business plan:
- Success is completely assured. Entrepreneurship is no longer a gamble when the spreadsheet tells you in advance precisely how much money you will make.
- You can hire someone very cheaply, perhaps even a virtual assistant in India, to run the business for you, since the plan spells out exactly what to do.
- This is a lot of hard work, so be ready for long manufacturing hours and craziness.