Do you want to learn how to become an entrepreneur without money or a degree? How can you become a successful entrepreneur? What does it take to start a business and build a successful business? How did entrepreneurs like Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Ingvar Kamprad, Michael Dell, Aliko Dangote and Thomas Edison become successful? You are going to find out soon.
Before I proceed, I want to state categorically that there is no definite strategy or success formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur and the reason is because the entrepreneurial path of entrepreneurs is different. Whether you want to become an entrepreneur in high school or college, whether you want to become an entrepreneur at a young age (kid, teenager) or in retirement age; the process is the same.
However, after understudying the lives of successful entrepreneurs; I have been able to pin point four keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur. But before i go into this, i consider it important that you first determine why you want to become an entrepreneur and start a business.
“To be a successful business owner and investor, you have to be emotionally neutral to winning and losing. Winning and losing are just part of the game.” – Rich Dad
Why Do You Want to Become an Entrepreneur
Everyday, employees are quitting their jobs and new business ventures are started all over the world. Every day, I come across entrepreneurs basking with enthusiasm and passion just because they have launched their new startup.
Every day, I hear pitches of employees talking passionately about their desire to start a business. While I am not against the launching of new startups, my main concern is the primary aim for which these businesses were started.
“Aim for the highest.” – Andrew Carnegie
What is your primary aim for building a business? Why did you become an entrepreneur? Why do you want to start a business? Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? I bet that the answer to this question will vary from entrepreneur to entrepreneur.
But no matter what your answer may be, I want to let you know that the chance of success or failure in business hinges firmly on your primary aim. Your success depends on the “why” of becoming an entrepreneur and starting that business of yours.
“There are no bad business and investment opportunities, but there are bad entrepreneurs and investors.” – Rich Dad
I felt prompted to write on this because every day; I see people quitting their jobs and starting a business for the wrong reasons. Entrepreneurship is a journey; not a destination and to undertake this journey, you need enough motivation and guts to succeed.
If your reason for becoming an entrepreneur is weak; you will never complete the entrepreneurial process. Now before I ask the reason why you became an entrepreneur; I want to share my primary motivation for dumping college to focus on my business.
Why I Became an Entrepreneur
“It was in my life’s darkest moment, when there seem to be no hope that I discovered my entrepreneurial spirit. I thank God for that situation. If not for that single situation, I might have died without giving the entrepreneurial spirit in me a chance to manifest.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
Before I tell you why I became an entrepreneur; I want to state clearly that I am entitled to my own opinion. My reason may differ or contradict yours; that’s why we are humans and please don’t intertwine your primary aim of starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur with your business mission, they are two different things. Now why did I become an entrepreneur?
To be sincere with you, I can’t really pinpoint why I became an entrepreneur but I think I did it for several reasons. First and foremost; I am very ambitious and I love the word “control.” I became an entrepreneur to gain greater control over my life. I want to determine my own pace; I want to move at my own speed, I don’t want to limited by circumstances beyond my control.
“Why don’t you go to school and get a job? My answer to that question is this; I will get a job if only you can show me one that will help me become a billionaire. Unfortunately, the only job I know that can help me achieve that dream is entrepreneurship and it doesn’t require a college degree.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
I became an entrepreneur because I want to give my kids unborn the life I never had; I became an entrepreneur because I want to leave a legacy for my generation. I became an entrepreneur because I want to be free to do what I want; I want to spend time with my family and I don’t want to be under any pressure outside my control.
“It is my utmost desire to become a billionaire in my life time and also give away billions of dollars. I don’t think any paid employment on earth can help me achieve that dream. If I become a billionaire in my life time, I will just be another self made entrepreneur on the list. But if I don’t; I will die knowing I gave that dream my best shot.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
I have a strong desire to break the jinx of average in my family; my family name “Ajaero” has been in existence without anybody giving a hoot about it, I think it’s high time that name begins to ring a bell. Ultimately, I want to be remembered after I exit this world; not for causing chaos but for improving the life of humanity. Now why did you become an entrepreneur?
Though I may not know your personal reason for choosing entrepreneurship as a career; I have been able to pinpoint eight primary motives why people become entrepreneurs. You can read them below and see if they fit yours.
Eight Primary Reasons Why People Build Businesses
I am sorry to say but when it comes to starting and building businesses, those with money as a primary aim are majority. Everybody wants to be the next Bill Gates or John D. Rockefeller. Whenever I ask an entrepreneur the question: “Why do you want to start your own business? The usual answer I get is, “I want to be my own boss and make a lot of money.”
Please I want to clearly state that there is nothing wrong with making money alongside building your business but the wrong comes when making money becomes your primary aim. I say this because I regularly come across forum posts with questions such as:
- How do I make $1million a year?
- Can somebody teach me how to make money online?
- I need a business idea that can make me a lot of money?
“Build wealth as a byproduct of your business success. If wealth is your only objective in business, you will probably fail.” – J. Paul Getty
I sincerely advice against starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur primarily for the money because money may not provide the drive or enthusiasm needed to emerge a business success. Take a look at successful entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford, Anita Roddick, Aliko Dangote and Oprah Winfrey; and you will see they were not driven by the quest for money. Rather; they were on a mission to provide value and quality service.
“I don’t make deals for the money. I’ve got enough much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it.” – Donald Trump
“Being first is more important to me. I have so much money. Whatever money is, it’s just a method of keeping score now. I mean, I certainly don’t need more money.” – Larry Ellison
The next motive why people become entrepreneurs is to acquire fame. Along with a successful business comes fame and many entrepreneurs desire this fame. They see building a business as a leverage to achieve this dream and be in the limelight. That’s why many entrepreneurs have Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett as their role models or business mentors.
“If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are.” – Oprah Winfrey
3. Investment purposes
Most people become entrepreneurs and build businesses simply for investment purposes. I think I became an entrepreneur because I saw building a business as an investment for myself and future.
From personal experience, I can say that those who see their business as an investment vehicle are usually long term thinkers and they are the ones who build businesses that stand the test of time. I think entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford, Warren Buffett, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison fall into this category.
“Of all investments I know, building a business is probably the best because you can start with nothing and your returns may be infinite.” – Rich Dad
“Unfortunately, we are not a public company. We are a private group of companies and I can do what I want.” – Richard Branson
Another primary aim why people become entrepreneurs and start their own business is power. Most people fancy the power weird by successful entrepreneurs; power to bend the law, power to influence political policies, power to crush competitors and control price.
“Bill Gates is the pope of the personal computer industry. He decides who is going to build.” – Larry Ellison
The danger of building a business for the power attached to it is that you might end up engaging in illegal vices just to achieve that dream. Don’t build a business just for the power but if power comes, grab it with both hands.
Everyone loves to be appreciated; everyone loves to be associated with greatness. So it’s not out of place to build a business to gain prestige; to build something you will be proud of. Have you ever heard a statement as these?
- Where were you when I built this business empire from scratch with my sweat?
- I wanted to build something you will be proud of
- I did this because I love you
“I was interested in creating things that I could be proud of and so, you know, I was interested in being an editor of a magazine, but in order to be an editor of a magazine I had to become a publisher as well. I had to pay the bills. I had to worry about the printing and the paper manufacturing and the distribution of that magazine.” – Richard Branson
To be sincere, every entrepreneur wants to be appreciated and that’s why they grant interviews. So that someone out there can see what they’ve done and what they went through in the process. I think I am also in the game for prestige; if you’ve built something great, be proud of it.
“See thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before vain men.” – Proverbs 22: 29″
When interacting with aspiring entrepreneurs, I usually ask why they want to start their own business, I get replies such as:
- I want to be my own boss
- I want to be free.
- I want to have the time to travel the world and spend time with my kids
Entrepreneurship offers the kind of lifestyle few people will ever know but it takes sacrifice and pain to get there. If you are starting a business for a better lifestyle, always remember that the way to the promise land is through the wilderness.
“I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year.” – Warren Buffett
“I think after a certain amount, I’m going to give almost everything I have to charity. What else can you do with it? You can’t spend it, even if you try. I’ve been trying.” – Larry Ellison
7. Challenges Involved
“I have no complex about wealth. I have worked very hard for my money; producing things people need.” – J. Paul Getty
Building a business is quite challenging and demanding but I have seen entrepreneurs who are in business because of the challenges it offers. I have seen entrepreneurs who have made enough money to quit but they remain in the game.
“And obviously from our own personal point of view, the principal challenge is a personal challenge.” – Richard Branson
I have come across entrepreneurs who start businesses simply to go through the entrepreneurial process; to have a taste of the real challenges it offers. One thing with being in the game of entrepreneurship for the challenges it offers is that you will never be tired of playing it, you will develop personally and the money will surely follow.
“I’m not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don’t have time for dying.” – Ingvar Kamprad
“It’s my job for Oracle, the number two software company in the world; to become the number one software company in the world. My job is to build better than the competition, sell those products in the marketplace and eventually supplant Microsoft and move from being number two to number one.” – Larry Ellison
“You must not only learn to live with tension, you must seek it out. You must learn to thrive on stress.” – J. Paul Getty
8. Self Expression
The final motive why people build businesses is to express themselves or their abilities. Expression of skills, talents, passions and creativity is a major reason why there is a surge in the growth of small businesses. Take a look at your neighborhood and you will see mom and pop shops, pie bakers, barbers, hair stylist, graphic artists, technicians and so much more.
“We were young, but we had good advice, good ideas and lots of enthusiasm.” – Bill Gates
“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson
In my opinion, I think every entrepreneur is entitled to his or her motive for starting a business but it is recommended you balance your motives and focus more on providing your customers with real value for money. A good way to balance your motives for becoming an entrepreneur is to develop either a personal mission statement or a set of core values and stick to it.
Subjecting your life to a set of core positive value will ensure you stay on focused on your long term objectives without been distracted by your short term achievements.
“Starting a business is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. In mid air, the entrepreneur begins building a parachute and hopes it opens before hitting the ground.” – Rich Dad
Now how does one become a successful entrepreneur? Just as I said above, there’s no definite formula to becoming a successful business owner. Instead, all we have are laid down rules and guidance from successful entrepreneurs that have trodden the entrepreneurial path.
“I wanted to be an editor or journalist. I wasn’t really interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going.” – Richard Branson
How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur and Business Owner
So you want to become self employed? Are you prepared for the challenges involved? Are you prepared to give your project all it requires to succeed? Are you mentally prepared to become your own boss? You might feel these are just casual questions but I want you to know that they are realistic questions. Most people quit their jobs and go solo without being mentally prepared for the process and that’s why they fail.
To become self employed and succeed at what you do; you must change your perception. You must transit from a mentality of dependency on your boss to being independent. You have to take control and be responsible for your actions. You must be accountable and most importantly; you must be prepared to face disappointments, you must be prepared to fail because failure is a pathway to success.
2. Identify your core skill
What are you quitting your job on? What’s your leverage? What service can you offer in exchange for money that people are willing to pay for? What are your core skills, talent, hobby or passion? If you want to be a successful self employed entrepreneur, then you must answer these questions.
“A good businessman must have nose for business the same way a journalist has nose for news. Once your eyes, ears, nose, heart and brain are trained on business, you sniff business opportunities everywhere. In places where people see a lot of obstacles, I see a lot of opportunities. At times, there is something instinctive in me that tell me a business opportunity exist even at a place where others see nothing. That is what makes me different, maybe unique. A good businessman sees where others don’t see. What I see, you may not see. You cannot see because that is the secret of the business… the entire world is a big market waiting for anybody who knows the rules of the game.” – Orji Uzor Kalu
The first key to becoming a successful business owner is finding the right opportunity; an opportunity that others fail to see. I use the word “learn” because entrepreneurship is a learning process; you must keep learning from the day you start a business till the day you quit the game.
“One of the great things about being willing to try new things and make mistakes is that making mistakes keeps you humble. People who are humble learn more than people who are arrogant.” – Rich Dad
“One of the most stupid things to do is to pretend you are smart. When you pretend to be smart, you are at the height of stupidity.” – Rich Dad
I used the word “learn” because you can never become perfect at spotting good business opportunities; you just have to keep learning and improving your business skills or vision. Becoming a successful entrepreneur or building a successful business lies in your ability to spot business opportunities that others miss; you must be able to see opportunity in problems.
“Behind every adversity is an opportunity. If you lament over the adversity, you will miss the opportunity.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
In an article I wrote previously; I repeatedly emphasized the point that the primary duty of an entrepreneur is to “solve critical problems” and such problems can surface in any form or situation. To become a successful entrepreneur; you must think and act like the ancient alchemists that tried to turn lead to gold.
But in your case, you will have to make it a primary duty to turn problems into opportunities. If you can do turn a problem into an opportunity; even if it’s just once, you have just picked the first piece of the puzzle to building a business and becoming a successful business owner.
“Capital can do nothing without brains to direct it.” – J. Ogden Armour
The second key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to learn how to raise capital. I have said and written it countless times that one of the fundamental function of an entrepreneur is to raise capital; by any legal means necessary.
“Business? It’s quite simple. It is other people’s money.” – Alexander Dumas the Younger
If you don’t know how to raise capital; forget about becoming an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you must learn to raise capital internally; as well as externally. Cash flow is the life blood of a business and it’s your job to make sure that cash continuously flow into your business. Show me a successful entrepreneur and I will show you an individual that knows the intricacies of raising capital.
“There is one paradoxical characteristic every entrepreneur must possess to succeed. An entrepreneur must be able to persuade his debtors to pay their debts promptly and at the same, must tactically delay payments to his creditors.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable as a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other thing under the sun.” – John D. Rockefeller
The third key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is the ability to organize smart people and put them in strategic positions within the business. Business is a team sport; a game that requires a synergy of business skills; and an entrepreneur with the best team will always win. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to find your own best team; you need to assemble a strong business team.
“Successful businessmen share the ability to hire people smarter than they are.” – Dillard Munford
Organizing and directing smart people can only be possible if you possess good leadership skills and your ability to create a synergy between groups of smart people is what makes you a successful entrepreneur. Smart people in this case include professionals, business advisors, mentors and business coaches.
“A business idea is just another idea. But an idea backed by a strong feasibility, a thorough business plan and a smart team is no longer an idea. It’s now a solid business opportunity worth pursuing.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
“You must take risks, both with your own money or with borrowed money. Risk taking is essential to business growth.” – J. Paul Getty
So you want to become a successful entrepreneur? If your answer to this question is yes; then what is your risk bearing capacity? Are you prepared to take calculated risk? Risk avoidance is the major reason most people do not become entrepreneurs; the ability to take calculated risk is also the reason Bill Gates became the richest man in the world; it’s the reason Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest billionaire in the world and Aliko Dangote, the richest black man in the world.
Without risk, forget about starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur. Becoming a successful entrepreneur depends on your ability to increase your risk bearing capacity. What’s the difference between Larry Ellison and the smart self employed programmer next door? The answer is simple. They are both entrepreneurs but they are operating at different risk level.
“In today’s rapidly changing world, the people who are not taking risk are the risk takers.” – Robert Kiyosaki
So if you are going to start a business from scratch and become a successful entrepreneur; then you must expand your risk bearing capacity. You must stretch beyond your comfort zone because only then can you achieve success in business.
“Seek advice on risk from the wealthy who still take risks, not friends who dare nothing more than a football bet.” – J. Paul Getty
Before you jump into offering your services for money, you must know who your market is. What is your niche? Who are your customers? How much are they in need of your service? How much are they willing to pay for your services? How do they want your services packaged and delivered? These are things you must research and find out before investing your money and time in starting a business.
Most people go solo without a business plan because they feel it’s too early to get one. Sincerely speaking, I have seen successful entrepreneurs that don’t even know what a business plan looks like. So I don’t want to make it sound like you will never succeed without a business plan. But if you intend to grow big as time goes on, then you will definitely need a business plan even if it’s a simple one page business plan.
One of the most important steps you will take in the process of becoming a self employed entrepreneur is to sharpen your sales skills; either through training or self learning. No matter how good you are at what you do, you will never find success if you can’t sell yourself.
“The most important skill in business is sales. Without sales skills, forget about becoming an entrepreneur.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Unfortunately, this statement above is true. I have seen excellent technicians who are struggling to survive just because they don’t know how to tell people how good they are. Most business failures are a result of the management’s inability to generate sales. So get good at selling if you want to become a success self employed entrepreneur.
10. Execute your plan
Of the seven steps highlighted in this article, this is the most important. I have seen people with wonderful ideas and plans but they remain where they are from year to year simply because they are afraid to start a business. They are afraid to quit their job to face the uncertainty and challenges of being responsible or accountable.
In the entrepreneurial process, the most important task is taking action. You can plan, dream and fantasize but if you don’t take action; all will be in vain. So execute your plans today and I will see you at the top.