There are over 28 million small businesses in the U.S. but not all of them succeed. In fact, only about half of new establishments survive beyond 5 years. So what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur and be on the right half of those odds? These 5 keys are what many entrepreneurs attribute their success to.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they failed far more times than they succeeded. Mark Cuban said, “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.” Failure is a part of life, and just about every single person will fail at some things in their lifetime. The difference is how you handle those failures. Do you let it defeat you and get the better of you? Or do you sit down, evaluate, analyze, and ask yourself, “What could I have done better”?
Odds are, if you’re trying to start a business, you will encounter many more failures than successes, especially in the beginning. Maybe your first endeavor will even fall apart miserably. Even one of the most successful entrepreneurs, Bill Gates, tried starting a company that crashed and burned. Imagine what life would be like if he had given up after his first attempt! Consider failure as life’s way of giving you feedback on what you should do differently next time. The only one who can stop you from reaching your dreams is YOU, so don’t let failure tear you down. Use it as motivation to try something new and do better the next time.
Write Your Goals Down
The single most important thing you can do to start your journey of being a successful entrepreneur is to WRITE IT DOWN. There have been numerous studies over the years that support the notion that you are far more likely to achieve your goals if you have them written down. There’s something powerful in the written word. When you write down your goals, whether you realize it or not, you are telling yourself that “this is entirely possible for me to achieve.” Until it’s written down, it’s just a nice idea. So take the time to write down your main goals, sub goals, and any other goals you can think of. Put it in a place you will see it often so it will always be at the front of your mind.
Hold Yourself Accountable to Someone
A study done by Dr. Gail Matthews found that in addition to actually writing down your goals, make yourself accountable to others. This is because now it’s not just yourself that you are accountable to, but another person who will keep you honest in your own endeavors. How many of you have or know someone who has a “gym buddy”? I know that when it’s up to me, I don’t go nearly as often as I’d like; but when I find a friend who is the same boat as me, we keep each other honest and my gym attendance increases significantly.
The same concept runs true here, so find someone who can be your “accountability partner” and send weekly updates or set up a weekly phone call with your friend or family member to help keep you on track with your goals. If you want to get really ambitious, you could even post your end goal with a timeline to your favorite social media channels. Then the whole world will know of your plans and it can motivate you that much more to get out there and make it happen! No matter who you choose to hold yourself accountable to, find someone (or many) you can report back to so you can stay on track.
Stop Dreaming and Start Doing
A vision can only go so far. Do you have a great idea for a new product or company? How much time do you spend talking about it, and how much time do you spend actually doing things to make that vision and dream a reality? What goals or milestones are you setting to get where you want to be? Doing oftentimes means sacrificing. Whether that’s time, money, or something else, you usually have to sacrifice something to get where you want to be. How much time are you spending on reaching your goals? Instead of watching one more episode of your favorite show, take that hour and get busy on working through the next step of your plan. Try something new. Fail. Try again. You can’t steer a parked car – you can only steer when you’re moving and doing.
Being patient with anything is hard. We are a society of people who want it and want it now. Being a successful entrepreneur is no easy feat. It requires hard work, dedication, determination, an ability to take failures in stride, and most importantly, patience. Lots and lots of patience. Take James Dyson of Dyson vacuums for example. It took him 15 years to perfect his product before taking it to market, but now it’s one of the most recognizable vacuum brands. Or Tim Leatherman of Leatherman. It took him 3 years to finish a prototype he liked, and another 5 years to find a prospective customer who bought just 500 tools to start. But today, Leatherman has revenues around $100 million. Are you willing to put in years of patience to achieve what you’re aiming for? If you are, buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but well worth it in the end.
Ultimately, what it boils down to is one simple question: “How badly do you want it?” Do you just like the idea of being an entrepreneur and being your own boss? Or are you willing to do what it takes to make that idea and dream a reality? As with anything in life, most things don’t come easy; you have to work for them. Evaluate where you are currently, where you want to be, and what you are willing to do to get there. Then put these 5 keys in motion and if you stick with it, you too can one day be a successful entrepreneur.