Recently, I was asked by Junior Achievement to speak to high school students at William B. Travis, during entrepreneurial week. My assigned topic? What is takes to become a successful business owner. For this talk, I decided to tell the story of my own personal journey, which included many failures and challenges. But I also took this opportunity to speak about the 4 core aspects I believe are needed in order to become a truly successful entrepreneur. And of course, when I use the term “success” I am not only referring to money. I would like to share my thoughts with you as well.
You’ve gotta have passion for what you’ll be building your company around. One of the main goals of becoming an entrepreneur is to get to do what you love and believe in. So, if you are even toying with the idea of starting a business around something you don’t have a deep passion or love for, just forget it right now. You have to love what you’re doing, and then surround yourself with others who share the same passion. It’s going to be hard at times, and to fall back on what you love is going to be paramount.
When starting a company, I feel you need to do it for a goal much bigger than your own personal success and financial gain. If you are in it only for the money, there’s a chance you’ll make a lot of cash- but you’ll never truly be rich. Also, purpose leads to a ton of extra motivation for your team. If your employees know they’re working toward something more than just increasing the company’s bottom line, or putting money in their own pockets, you’ve already started to create a culture based on a shared purpose. If you have a dream to help educate the leaders of tomorrow, if you love animals, or if you want to help the homeless etc… choose an organization to team up with and give to. There are not many things in this world more powerful than a group of passionate people working for something bigger than themselves. A great byproduct of this, is that no matter how well you ultimately do with your company, you will forever be able to sleep easy at night.
You must be confident in what you are offering, or everyone will be able to see right through you. Be it potential clients or employees, people will sniff out your lack of confidence in a second. Not only do you need to believe in your skills and your business, you’ve got to have confidence in yourself and your beliefs. People will believe in you, and your teammates will follow you through the most turbulent times if they can look up to you, and trust that you have things under control.
I am not going to lie to you- there will be tough times ahead. And in the beginning stages of most businesses, there are likely to be more tough times than good ones. But if you keep things in perspective, the rough patches won’t be so difficult that you’ll doubt your ability to get through them. You will have to learn resilience. You will have to get back up each time you get knocked down, no matter how impossible it seems. If you are one to curl up in a ball every time something goes wrong, or not as planned, then owning your own company might not be the best path to take. But I promise you if you keep knocking at that wall, it will eventually fall.
I hope that in this short post, I might have inspired someone to take the entrepreneurial plunge, or maybe even saved someone else from making a mistake! Owning your own business is certainly not a cakewalk, and it’s not for everyone. But if these four qualities sound just like you, and you have a great idea for a new business, I say go for it and never look back!