When I was a budding entrepreneur and first started out in the world of business, I was fascinated by the way people earned a living ..
Then when I discovered networking, aside from the aforementioned industrial estate dwellers, I found an even bigger group of people who worked from home. The range of people, products, services and ideas seemed endless to me.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, at the start of 2019, there were 5.82 million small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees), which made up 99.3% of the total businesses in the United Kingdom. SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population (5.9 million businesses). SMEs account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of the turnover in the UK private sector.
I’ve found it useful to divide the leaders of these organisations into categories, although in reality, like people everywhere, these leaders love to blur the edges and do their own thing!
- There are the artisans, those who make or create material objects and sell on their wares.
- Closely related are those who have a particular skill or body of knowledge they sell to others such as coaches, trainers, consultants; what I call the' artisans of the mind'.
- Then there are those who have built a business. This group fall into two categories: those satisfied with running a small usually local business with employees who manufacture and/or sell products and services, and those who are the true entrepreneurs.
It’s the last group I’m addressing here!
Entrepreneurs are those who take on building a new business, bearing the risks with a view to making a profit. They are usually innovative, challenging the status quo to create something that is bigger than themselves.
The important way they differ from others is that the business has a value greater than the skills of the owner; in other words, the business is sellable as an entity. In fact, this building and selling a business for a profit is what sets this group apart.
The true entrepreneur is a breed apart, so what characteristics do they need to succeed? A quick scout across Google throws up many lists of which I have condensed it down to the key ones I believe are essential.
Successful Entrepreneurs are:
- Future driven. They are business disrupters, not satisfied with the way things are now they want and believe they can create a bigger or better way of getting a new or existing product or service to the people who want to buy it. And they believe they can make a profit from doing that and then exit the business. For them the business model rules.
- Optimistic. They see challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles. After all "the person who solves XXX will corner the market" This belief that anything is possible means they are willing to take risks to succeed. It also means they are adventurous and creative in their approach.
- Collaborative. The most successful entrepreneurs know they can’t do it alone. They seek out others who can help them with the skills, knowledge and resources they need. They are the persuaders and influencers, but also take on board the experience and knowledge of others.
Napoleon Hill first described this in his book Think and Grow Rich over 90 years ago, exploring the success of America's most successful entrepreneurs like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, who met and explored ideas together in a group they called The Vagabonds.
So you’ve probably been wondering where the sponge comes into all this? Well, here it is: we use the metaphor of a sponge when talking about someone who absorbs every piece of information that comes their way and then sifts out the useful bits. Successful entrepreneurs are open in this way, so constantly look for opportunities to enhance their own development.
Richard Branson sums up this approach to this in business thus, "If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!
Some facts about sponges’ adaptability:
- Sponges absorb everything that comes their way and sift out the useful stuff
- They are symbiotic, collaborating with other life forms for mutual benefit (usually bacteria)
- They produce buds that can survive when conditions are unfavourable and form new sponges
- They can be sifted through a fine mesh and re-from into a new sponge
- They can have a life span of a few years or appear to live forever (thousands of years
So my top tip for budding entrepreneurs is to act like a sponge. Invest in your own knowledge, take every opportunity to increase your own knowledge and experience and budget for the best self-development you can afford.
Collaborate with others to mutual benefits. Go out and meet people from a wide variety of businesses and be adaptable and willing to hunker down when the going gets tough. Don't give up! Be adaptable to re-forming from a bud of your original idea.
On that note, I’ll leave Steve Jobs with the last words. His take on success is that it really is "all about pure perseverance"!
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.