So you want to become an entrepreneur. Question: How many successful entrepreneurs do you know?
Not someone you know in the news, not someone you just know as customer, someone who can tell you what it really is to be an entrepreneur – friends or family members who are successful entrepreneurs.
Aaron at Today is that Day has a thought-provoking article titled Are You Building a Winning Team or Running a Daycare Center? He points out how our environment, including the people we associate with, affects our mind and feeling, and to some extent determines the course of our life. He says:
You need to ask yourself if your surroundings are conductive to actually attaining those goals. Do you work, live, or play in an environment or with a group of people who are constantly building you up and believing in your greatness, or do your surroundings serve instead to remind you of what you don’t want to have in your life?
He goes on to check if your circle of friends are aligned to such goals as fitness, relationship, and financial success. Now let me add to it that becoming a successful entrepreneur is no exception to this rule.
This is a requirement of becoming an entrepreneur: Be with successful entrepreneurs.
Surround yourself with successful entrepreneurs who can tell you what it is like to be an entrepreneur and who will trust your potential as they have trusted theirs themselves. Spend as much time as possible with them. Learn how to think as an entrepreneur.
I know this is difficult. You are probably employed as professional now, so you spend majority of your time with other employees. And let me remind you – no matter how high up someone is in the corporate ladder, an employee is an employee. They have employee mindset. I used to work for a president of a sizable company (who managed three locations in the US). He was very knowledgeable of the business, he had strong leadership, and yet he was an employee. He made a great president, working for the parent company, but he is not an entrepreneur. (In some companies, president may be working for the board – same thing, he is a high-end employee, not entrepreneur.) Your challenge is how to associate with real entrepreneurs and learn the mindset of entrepreneur while you may be working as employee.
You are very lucky if someone in your family is an entrepreneur. In my case, my father was an entrepreneur. He started his business when I was six, so I grew up watching what it is like. In a sense, I started working at age six. It was time before the answering machine, so I took calls when he was out making sales calls. He never paid me, but I earned some tips. . . (Wouldn’t you be impressed with a six-year-old girl speaking with highest degree of politeness answering calls and taking their name and number? Or doing the basic shipping and receiving, counting the number of packages before signing off the paperwork? Oh, this was back in Japan. I know, in the US, kids are not even allowed to be themselves without adults. . .) I also watched how he deals with his customers and venders. He didn’t teach me anything (because I was a girl, not a boy – I know, I wish he had better attitude), but still I learned. I also figured why he has more time and money, and more flexibility of spending his time and money, than other kids’ fathers. . .
What are your options if nobody in your close circle of friends and family are entrepreneurs?
You need to seek them out. Seek them in social clubs and professional associations. Hire a mentor or coach. (There is a difference between a mentor and a coach. A mentor is someone who has been successful in specific area of your interest. The strength of a mentor is their specific knowledge and experiences. The potential drawback is they would tend to draw you to the direction they believe to be right, which may or may not fit your personal aspirations and personality. On the other hand, a coach is your detached thinking partner. Most coaches have a niche, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the big shot in that field. The strength of a coach is their professional communication skills supported by the ability to remain caring yet detached and objective. Coaches are trained to be client-centered.)
I also encourage you to check this blog often because – in addition to me, myself, who is an entrepreneur – I will be writing about and interviewing successful entrepreneurs I know.
You need to change the way you think, feel, and act to become a successful entrepreneur.
It is a fundamental shift from that of employee. And you can’t just learn it intellectually like your learn how to write business plans. You need to learn experientially.