Are successful entrepreneurs born or are they made? It might be a little bit of both.
Take a Look
Have you ever looked up the derivation of entrepreneur?
The word has come to mean “a person who organizes and operates a business, assuming greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”
It’s derived from an Old French word, which was based on a Latin word that meant “to take.”
How Do Entrepreneurs “Take?”
- They take control of their destiny, rather than relying on a job.
- They take the necessary steps to build their own business.
- They take a good idea and act on it.
- They see good opportunities and take them.
- They take risks that produce rewards.
- They take action, rather than waiting until they’re “ready.”
- They gladly take payment for their results.
Neither the definition nor the derivation indicate that entrepreneurism is a natural ability. So we are left to assume that it’s a capacity anyone can develop and improve.
So what does it take to be an entrepreneur?
Don’t Crave Stability
It’s no crime to be satisfied with the stability of a salary and a 9-to-5 routine. Most of the world has chosen that route. But if you want more—more money, more time, more freedom—you will ultimately have to crave freedom more.
In doing that, you may not always have the security of a steady paycheck. So, particularly in the beginning, you’ve got to be able to survive in the absence of stability.
Though I’d started up some little businesses while I was growing up, I opted to go to college and get a finance degree. A degree can be a valuable asset. I dropped out a few semesters short of getting mine because I could see that it was leading in a direction I didn’t want to go: being tied to a desk for the next 35 years with a cap on my salary.
I craved freedom more than I craved stability and I was willing to take the risks necessary to achieve that freedom. That’s a big part of being an entrepreneur.
Be a Manager
This is not something that comes naturally to all people, but can be developed.
To start a business, you can rely on yourself to do everything in the beginning, but to scale up and expand, you will need to leverage the efforts of others. That’s where you’ve got to become good at choosing able, willing people and managing them so that they produce the results you want.
As a manager, you’ve got to get comfortable with letting go of some kinds of work so that you can concentrate on the activities that directly bring in cash. For people who feel they can only trust themselves, this may be difficult, but it’s also necessary.
MOBE now has more than 180 employees. In the beginning, when I started scaling up, I hired someone to handle customer service. I hired another to handle the books. This enabled me to focus more of my time on sales and marketing.
It didn’t all go smoothly at first, but we worked out the kinks and got it to where I only needed to check in with them a couple times a week.
Eventually, I had to turn over the front-end sales to someone else, so I could concentrate on the higher-ticket back-end sales. And eventually, I turned those over as well to a hand-picked sales team, so that I could concentrate on product creation and delivery.
So, at each point where I scaled up, I delegated tasks to other people and managed them and their results. Then I could concentrate more on the things that brought in money.
Learn to Sell
The ability to sell is the most important skill an entrepreneur can have, and no matter how much you hate selling, it’s an ability you can develop.
You will need to develop it because as an entrepreneur, you’re always selling: getting people excited about your ideas, negotiating better prices, getting people to work for you or partner with you—these are all types of “sales.”
My first sales job was working for a telecom company, calling up their disgruntled ex-customers and trying to win them back. I got paid a couple hundred dollars a week to train, but after a week or two, it was straight commission for every customer I got re-activated.
I sat in a cubicle with a headset microphone and an automatic dialer, making call after call. It was mostly hang-ups and cuss-outs for two weeks, but I continued to practice the script every night at home, mocking up ways to handle people’s objections. Then I called all day long for eight hours. Eventually, I started “selling” people to come back as customers.
I did it for about three months and got to where I was ranked 15th best recover sales person in the company.
This is the way I recommend anyone learn how to sell because, like an entrepreneur, you only get paid if you get results. So you either sell or you don’t eat.