BY LARRY ALTON
Succeeding as an entrepreneur takes hard work and persistence because, unfortunately, there is no business-startup fairy who magically bestows success on small businesses and their owners.
Most successful entrepreneurs follow comparable patterns and share similar basic characteristics. Hundreds of online articles and published books claim to know the secret of success in business, but for the most part, they boil down to the same major points.
Passion, perseverance and a positive attitude tend to set successful entrepreneurs apart. Cultivating these attributes requires an innate skill set and some tips to get started.
So here are the main items to take into consideration if you’re trying to develop a business platform. These elements constitute will support a smart strategy for any new enterprise:
1. Love what you do.
Passion is key to keeping a business strategy moving. Half-heartedness in an entrepreneurial endeavor will chip away at your drive to succeed. Perseverance is the one thing that’s guaranteed to move anything over time, whether it’s a person, a job or an entire company. Abraham Lincoln failed at most of his efforts until late in his life, but he never gave up.
2. Take baby steps.
Jumping all in is rarely ever successful. There are success stories about people who invested everything once and came out winners after six months or a couple years, but those are rare. Risk management is an essential factor in any startup, and balance is vital. You can absorb losses more easily if you take smaller risks in the beginning. Those will provide essential and productive lessons.
3. Learn from others.
Successful entrepreneurs often worked for others in their field of choice before striking out on their own. Spending a few years in the industry under an excellent mentor will provide a good launching pad. Learn from your predecessors’ mistakes and brainstorm about how to improve upon their model. Find someone willing to teach, and think about starting your business elsewhere when you leave.
4. Learn how to self-promote.
Confidence and a good elevator speech can take any pitch to the next level. The first marketing any company experiences comes from its founder. Spend time learning how to share your vision without coming across as “salesy.” Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale, but remember: the client is always the focus.
5. Constantly take action.
Entrepreneurs are movers and shakers. They can’t afford to analyze every detail or they’d never get anywhere. There is no place for procrastination in a startup. It’s a 24/7, no-vacation-or-sick-days kind of job that demands constant forward momentum. Make a brief assessment at every step and move on it. Trust your instincts.
6. Make a plan.
Read about successful businesses. Take in the wealth of knowledge that’s been provided by successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and the personalities from Shark Tank. A successful business plan does not have to be a book. A 10-page plan is digestible yet long enough to include everything you need to start.
7. Build a reputation.
According to Brandi Bennett at HostGator.com, maintaining a blog on a well-hosted website, or volunteering your time and skills, shows instead of tells the community, and thereby builds expertise and trust.
8. It’s never too late to start.
Many successful entrepreneurs started later in life. J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter author), Julia Child (chef), and Sam Walton (Wal-Mart) all started their wildly successful brands after they were comfortably along in their lives. Having the experience that comes with age can give you a unique outlook on your business. Life experiences bring depth that the most educated young adult, by his or her nature, is less able to foresee.
9. Build your "A team".
Finding the skill sets and attitudes that support the culture of the brand you want to promote will foster innovation and enhance your reputation. Include folks from outside the company for the people you rely on. That will start a free marketing chain reaction that can build confidence and revenue.
10. Be mindful of your attitude.
The attitude of the founder will set the tone for the business. Negativity, laziness and entitlement waste time and money while they tarnish your reputation. Success largely depends on making mistakes and accepting blame in stride. Owning up to and facing challenges head-on is what makes a mere business owner a leader.
Starting a business can wreak havoc on the owner’s personal life. While all the above tips are necessary for success, taking care of yourself mentally and physically is also imperative. Exercise, sleep and diet play a central role in ensuring you implement these policies successfully. All of them drive attitude, motivation and relationships.
Successful CEOs tend to follow a structured, daily schedule of rising early, exercising, having snacks on hand for fuel and socializing many evenings of the week.
Striking a balance may take a while, but working toward this list as a goal for starting your company will make the difference. How an owner feels about progress and how quickly a business can be up and running -- and feeding that bottom line -- will swiftly feel the impact.