There are very few office workers who haven’t experienced the entrepreneurship day-dream of a future where you are your own boss. That moment, or moments, when thoughts turn to the “what ifs” and the “one days” of owning your own company, making decisions about the direction of your future, and allowing your creative ideas to come to fruition in a way that works for you. Entrepreneurship need not be simply a fantasy and furthermore, it isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel as I learned when setting up my local cleaning company HappyCleans. Plenty of successful business owners have navigated the transition from an office job to an entrepreneur. There are plenty of takeaway tips we can glean from successful entrepreneurs. In this article, we’ll cover four entrepreneurship lessons that you can apply today.
Identify the Need:
Entrepreneurship is essentially the willingness to start your own business. It involves developing and managing a business venture with the intention of making profit. And, for any business to be profitable, you need to provide a product or a service that people need or want.
Identifying a need or want can involve a deep dive into psychology. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is helpful here. Developed by American psychologist, Abraham Maslow published his hierarchy in 1948 to demonstrate the various needs of all humans. These range from physiological needs to needs for safety, love and belonging and esteem. He referred to the ultimate need of humans as the need for self-actualization. Without getting too technical: Maslow’s hierarchy offers would-be entrepreneurs a helpful tool to consider what need(s) and potential product or service meets. Considering this makes marketing your product simple: you explain how your product or service meets your customers needs.
Let’s take the example of a home-cleaning business. Customers have basic physiological needs for shelter and safety. There are psychological needs for harmony, order and beauty. Humans also have a need to belong and gain approval. A dirty, messy, unhygienic and disorganized home meets none of these needs. A clean, tidy and sanitized home does. When considering your first and next steps in entrepreneurship, always keen a close eye on identifying and then meeting your potential customers’ needs.
Relationship with Risk:
Running your own business inevitably involves some degree of risk. Paid employment is not risk free, either, of course. However, entrepreneurship never guarantees a set income or paycheck at the end of each month. That means, as an entrepreneur, becoming comfortable with some degree of risk is important. One way to do this is to re-frame the concept of risk to “opportunity”. This simple shift emphasizes what is to be gained from taking a leap of faith, rather than keeping the focus upon what could be lost. It may just change your relationship with risk.
Another consideration is to identify your own boundaries around risk. Some people are more risk adverse than others. For someone that is highly risk adverse, forcing them to take undue risks is highly stressful and is unlikely to help them achieve their best work. Knowing where and when you move from your comfort zone into your panic zone when it comes to risk can help you to make decisions that feel acceptable to you and your own personality.
Finally, any form of risk assessment usually incorporates control measure to mitigate against risk. Consider if you want to adopt any control measures in managing risks associated with your business plans. Such measures might include having a buffer of savings to cover unexpected expenses, considering entering into franchise opportunities to ensure you have wider support and seeking legal or business advise from mentors or experts in the field.
Feedback is an Asset:
Praise feels good. Criticism less so. Successful entrepreneurs learn to view any form of customer feedback as a helpful asset to inform next steps. Indeed, successful entrepreneurs seek feedback and implement measures to gather such data. Consider the cleaning business idea. As an entrepreneur, feedback after a home-clean informs you how your client feels about the quality of the clean and service. It may offer suggestions for how you could hone and improve the offer to customers. It opens dialogue that can help to ensure concerns are addressed. Positive feedback is also evidence that your business provides what customers want: great marketing material! This model means that many successful entrepreneurs build in systems designed to elicit feedback. It’s a helpful took that can be replicated when you move towards establishing your own business.
Successful entrepreneurs are humble enough to continue learning at every stage of their business career. Nothing in life remains static. Your customer’s needs and wants can change over time. Your competitors offer is likely to change. Suppliers and sector trends change. The economy changes. In fact, each one of us mature and develop as we progress through our careers. Such change opens up chance to learn and benefit from new insight, new opportunities and new ways of thinking. IF we can remain curious.
Successful entrepreneurs make it their business to continue learning. Networking and building contacts that you communicate with allow you to learn from others. Consider the role of a trusted mentor to support you in your business plans. Read blogs and articles that relate to your niche and sector. Learn about new trends and new products coming to market. Learn from your customers and what your staff say. Learn from yourself by reflecting regularly on your own practice, wants, needs and goals. Identify what sustains you in the difficult times and what equips you to stay resilient. Any learning requires mental flexibility and adaptability. These are great assets for anyone who runs their own business.
Let’s return one last time to the home-cleaning business idea. Learning about how significant eco and green living concerns are to your target customer base is helpful information you can then act on to ensure your business meets customers’ needs and wants. Learn what metrics matter most to small businesses. Discover what products are available to clean that are green and sustainable. Consult customers. Establish what your competitors offer to address ecological concerns. Treat all of this information as helpful data you can learn from. And then act upon it.
So, need, risk, feedback and learning: four helpful takeaways for anyone considering establish their own business. Whether you are still at the day-dream stage, or have already made great headway into establishing your business, these principles are key points for any successful entrepreneur to take on board.
Kat Buckley is the owner of a local house cleaning company in Oklahoma called HappyCleans. Her passions include startups, healthy living, and the environment.