An entrepreneur risks his own capital, services, and skills in a company (or in several companies). Entrepreneurs exemplify the American dream—working without a boss and using their own hands to build a livelihood. Successful entrepreneurs seem to have a number of similar qualities. First, they know business, either from their own experience or through extensive research. Second, they are extremely motivated. The average number of working hours per week of a successful starting entrepreneur is seventy. This catches the typical American dreamer by surprise. Third, successful entrepreneurs become obsessed with—or at least fascinated by—all parts of their chosen area of expertise. No aspect of the business is too large or too small to consider. The best thing about being an entrepreneur is that they control their own destinies to a greater extent than if they were working for someone else. Unlike working for someone else who judges their work and assigns a value to their services, every stitch of work they do goes toward their betterment. This puts immense pressure on the entrepreneurs, but it can also be the source of immense pleasure.
The most important entrepreneurial concerns should be thought about long before the person starts her own business. She must know how to run the company and when to reassess management strategies. She must be on top of issues of cash flow, expansion (or consolidation), liquidity, and corporate governance. Over three-fifths of new businesses and franchises fail within eighteen months of opening their doors. Many of the factors leading to failure are uncontrollable by the entrepreneur. If she’s trying to sell widgets, and a widgets superstore opens down the street, she may be sunk. Being an entrepreneur means thinking about the business all the time, accepting its responsibilities and its failures. But being one’s own boss, owning a business, and reaping all the rewards are powerful enough forces to attract people in droves.
If you feel capable of running a business, and you have the capital, initiative, money, creativity, and nerves of steel, you may want to become an entrepreneur. A background in finance helps; those who don’t have one should take on a (trustworthy) partner who does. Entrepreneurs should know their product, their market, and their competitors. Research in the field is a must. Access to capital is crucial to the fledgling entrepreneur. Some people can go to a bank and use their knowledge of the field with a solid business plan to request a loan. Certain loan programs are available through the federal government for small businesses. Municipalities, small business associations, and private organizations also offer financial assistance and planning. Contact your local chamber of commerce for information.
Although most entrepreneurs run into difficulty, few people think to arrange a back-up plan in case of failure. Many return to the industries they came from. Others venture into the field again and again. Take heart—many great industrialists failed four, five, six times before they succeeded in their speculative ventures. The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes and address them when planning a new entrepreneurial venture.