|Become an Entrepreneur in 4 Easy Steps, Step 1|
Becoming an Entrepreneur in 4 Easy Steps
Step 1: Start Today, Schedule Tomorrow.
No one begins a business without taking the first step forward. Just like anything new, the biggest hurdle is moving at all. Too many people sit around wishing their ideas would become a reality without taking tangible steps to pursue the dream. Nobody's perfect, and you might have to change course along the way, but it won't be a any adventure if you stay tied to the dock. So your first assignment is to get started today. In this first of four articles we outline some practical tips and suggestions on what "getting started" means, and how to keep the momentum flowing.
Make a list.
Getting Started means doing something tangible right this very minute. A great way to get started isto make a list. At any given moment there are a thousand things that need to get done in order to run a business, or even to just fix dinner at night for a family. To keep joyous activity from becoming overwhelming, keep a list of the things you need to accomplish. This does not have to be fancy. Pad of legal paper, the back of an old envelope, excel document, ipad notes, whatever works for you. The key is to write it down, keep it handy, and update as you get things finished. Keeping that paper of items marked as complete can be a real motivator and a great encouragement. We hang them on the walls here at IEM.
Keep a calendar.
After you have made your nice list, though, you have to start marking them off as completed. Sometimes you will need to organize resources, or make some phone calls, but get moving! Tasks that need to get done are not going to actually come to pass if you do not assign them a deadline. With everything else that you have to do in a single day, including family or any other job you might have while you're working towards starting a business, it can be hard to cram in those things that your copmany needs. However, if we get out our date books an essentially make appointments with ourselves, we can become disciplined enough to complete the tasks we want to complete. Be carefeul in this step, though. Being your own boss makes it easy to want to push the deadline out or to put the meeting off because that friend of yours wants to have dinner that night. If you set an appointment with yourself to get something done for your business treat that appointment like you would any other professional business meeting. Unless there is some large calamity or unforeseen disaster, you keep the appointment. If you don't have much time, keep it a short time frame. 15 minutes only if that's what it takes. With dedicated, consistent time set aside, you will chip away at the to do list in no time.
Assign yourself rewards for meeting goals.
Let's face it, we all need encouragement. When we are a company of one, that means that in addition to completing the task, being acknowledged for that completion is up to us as well. I usually treat myself to ice cream (my kids love ice cream night) or a latte for small accomplishments and something more substantial like going out on a date with my spouse to honor the completion of particularly hard obstacles in my business. Eventually I hope to buy myself things like jet liners or Gucci cuflinks, but you know, in the meantime, a nice glass of pinot noir at a quiet restaurant will do just fine.
Have someone to keep you accountable. Plan on them calling you at regular intervals to check on your progress.
Nothing is a motivator like someone holding your feet to the fire. Spouses can be great at this, or they can be the worst ever. So be honest about that relationship with your spouse and if they are not the best person to ask you every so often about whether or not something is done, then opt for a close friend, or even bring in someone who's not a close friend. Anyone willing to call you on the phone (emails can be deleted, a live voice cannot be ignored), and ask you about your progress and the goals that you have set for the week, is a great friend to have. This kind of accountability can be a real powerful force on the home team.
Prioritize your list into "must do"s and "want to do"s.
Understandably we all have things we want, but what do we need. No longer just for Christmas presents, budgets, and car buying guides, the idea of dividing your list of options into necessities versus optional is a valuable tool when it comes to business as well. Whether you are prioritizing your task list or planning a big purchase, deciding on what has to happen over what might can wait will save you a boatload of time and money in the long run.
Budget, and stick to the budget. If you don't have the cash, get creative. We suggest pinterest.
This step ties in with the previous one in that you need to remember that as a small business you cannot always operate at the same level as what you may have seen in a corporate environment. Don't feel obligated to treat potential clients to steak dinners if that's not what your company can afford right now. Opt for a cheaper meal, or, hey, if your product is truly a great product, then just provide them with what they paid for and leave wining and dining until later when you're making millions every year. Focus now on getting the business off the ground. You won't go anywhere if you dont' manage money well. If you need something done but can't afford to purchase anything, get creative. Barter with other small business to trade services, consider something homemade. You will be surprised how sometimes the cheapest option is the most successful.
We hope this list helps you get starting towards becoming an entrepreneur.
Contact us if we can help you with any specific questions you might have about entrepreneurship. Also, check out the master's degree in engineering that is offered by IEM. We consistently turn out graduates who start new companies and achieve success as powerful entrepreneurs. Go ahead, discover IEM.
Look out for the next article on Step 2: When you don't know, ask. We will explore the often intimidating task of asking questions. How to identify when you need help, how to know WHO to ask, and what you should ask them when you find them. All coming up in the next article, so stay tuned!