5 Steps Anyone Can Take to Become an Entrepreneur

The Anonymous Leader. This is a guest post by Ralph Mayhew, author of the excellent book on leadership: The Anonymous Leader: An Unambitious Pursuit of Influence. Ralph is an excellent person, a better person when you are communicating with, and even more excellent writer! Please check his view on how to become and entrepreneur and tell us what you think! You can contact him here!

Become an entrepreneur For too long the title of entrepreneur has been an elusive term, reserved for the business elite, untouchables who shape what our future will be from Netflix to Uber to Apple. At least, that’s what I thought for too long. I have since realized that every person has the capacity to be an entrepreneur if they follow five basic steps.

STEP 1. You need discontentment.

Forbes magazine agrees with Dictionary.com’s definition of entrepreneur:

“a person who (initiates, develops) organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” (Dictionary.com: Entrereneur)

I added the words in brackets, as I felt it lacked them. An entrepreneur is a person who looks at a problem and realizes they have something unique to offer a problem, in the form of a solution.

That problem, which they are responding to, is unsettling enough for them to need to respond to it.

Nearly every person has discontentment, but it’s acting upon this that makes a person entrepreneurial.

Many will say they developed or initiated what they did not to solve a problem but because it was just something they were passionate about.

This is true, but in so doing, they solved a problem they or others were experiencing, which caused people to want what they were offering.

Discontentment with the way things currently are is what drives a person to act entrepreneurially.

Nearly every person has discontentment, but it’s acting upon this that makes a person entrepreneurial. Many will say they developed or initiated what they did not to solve a problem but because it was just something they were passionate about.

This is true, but in so doing, they solved a problem they or others were experiencing, which caused people to want what they were offering.

Discontentment with the way things currently are is what drives a person to act entrepreneurially.

For me: Over the years I have seen countless leaders, with amazing potential fail to realize or step into that potential because of their understanding of leadership.

I grew discontent that many of resources available to emerging leaders were inadequate to set them up for a lifetime of effective influence for the cause they had committed their lives to.

I had to offer something, which I did in the form of The Anonymous Leader.

STEP 2. You need creativity.

Most people easily jump to the conclusion they are not creative. the reality is their lives are full of creativity, which they had not defined as such.

We were made to be creative, except somewhere along the way we permitted others to convince us that we weren’t.

Trust me, you are!

And creativity to an entrepreneur is like water to a fish.

Without it, everything becomes very difficult!

Creativity is birthed out of discontentment.

It is the solution that presents itself to the problem that needs solving.

It is the consequent solutions that arise out of other challenges, obstacles and issues faced along the journey.

An entrepreneur uses their creativity to forge a path into the unknown where others have not yet trod.

To remain effective, an entrepreneur must develop, feed and continue to find expression for their creativity. Without these three aspects, entrepreneurial tendencies cannot be maintained.

For me: I came to the conclusion, born out of my discontent, that I needed to offer to those who needed it a new understanding of how leadership can work.

This resulted in writing a book and stepping into the role of coach or mentor to anyone who picked it up.

The wonderful upside to this was my opportunity to encourage, challenge, educate and inspire people were no longer confined to the hours I had available during the week, but the number of books I could put in the hands of those who need it.

STEP 3. You need guts.

Every entrepreneur needs the courage to risk many things to see their dream come true.

They come to this place because as their discontent increases, and their creativity stirs deeply, there has to be an outcome.

To see that outcome materialize requires guts.

The risk comes in many forms, including reputation, money, pride, time, sleep, relationships, priorities, self-esteem and lots of others. The truth remains, however, that no great thing happened without a risk. When we risk we are making a trade.  The best risks are when we trade something good for something great.

The quicker you can grasp the fact that in being an entrepreneur you will have to loose something in order to potentially gain something greater, the quicker you can position yourself to make wise and well-informed risks.

For me: I recall a number of times when, during the writing of the book, I stopped typing and felt like deleting the lot.

I wasn’t up to it, the financial cost was significant, I’d lose two hours of sleep a night over 6 months, people probably wouldn’t buy it and if they did they’d regret doing so after the first page.

All of these things felt like insurmountable intimidations, which I discover were rendered powerless when I chose to risk that maybe I was good enough and maybe what I had to share was important enough.

STEP 4. You need grit.

Two years ago I took up running and very quickly realized you need grit as a runner. After the 7 mile mark when everything is hurting, you’re out of breath, it’s been a long time since you’ve had a drink, you’re a long way from home and you so desperately want to stop. Just to rest for a while and catch your breath.

But you don’t, because as a runner you know you need grit, and grit, the refusal to quit, is essential to a runner. In the same way, it is essential the entrepreneur.

There are countless moments when you want to quit or walk away. The competition is too fierce, the debt is too crippling, the sales are too weak, the work hours are too long, the creativity is lacking, there’s not enough customer interest, there’re too many bugs to fix.

They are the moments when everything within you wants to give it away, except for that tiny part of you which is gritty.

Grit stops you giving up and walking away. So many times you hear stories of a breakthrough coming just after an entrepreneur decides to grit their teeth and push on.

For me: As part of writing the book I asked some very experienced leaders to read a chapter each and gives me feedback before it went to edit.

The results were less than impressive, they were, in fact, depressing.

One particular leader, a leader I greatly respect said, ‘I don’t think this has much to offer leaders who aren’t very young‘.

I was crushed, but I had developed grit. It took a week or so to brush off those comments, I rewrote the entire book, in line with many of the other responses I received and moved forward with the process.

It was grit, which enabled me to seek a way forward.

STEP 5. You need to adapt

In many ways, this step is what defines the entrepreneur from a manager.

A manager manages static circumstances.

An entrepreneur manages to change circumstances and seeks to forge a path forward.

To do this requires the ability to adapt to uncertain environments.

All of a sudden the market can change, a key partnership can fall through, a product can be found faulty, an idea can flop, a marketing venture can collapse or miss its target and you’re left in a precarious position.

At these times, it’s no good throwing in the towel or putting your head in the sand. Instead, you must adapt to the changing environment.

The entrepreneur who is able to do this most effectively will flourish. Another way of saying this is situational problem solving. As situations change and morph the entrepreneur must be able to change and morph with them.

For me: Once the book was written and published it was time to market it.

I had lined up a number of promotions to all air on the 26th December – the day Amazon annually saw the most traffic.

The launch hinged on making the most of this day and was all set up until that morning.

I opened up my email to discover that in one promotion the book was advertised as $16.99, not $2.99.

In the second promotion, my non-fiction book was featured in the Romance category.

In the third promotion, the book wasn’t featured at all.

In that 20-minute time slot of checking it felt like everything was lost.

I needed to adapt, so I organized for the ads to re-run, some friends helped me out with purchasing a couple of books which prompted some extra sales, I asked those who had already read it to post a review, and I sort out another promotional company.

The result was a prolonged presence in the best seller category. the book feature number 1 in 4 of the 5 categories it was in and the launch was a success.

I could walk you through these same five steps regarding numerous other projects, businesses and intuitive I have been engaged with over the years, but the steps are the same.

Which step do you find most helpful? Which step would you add to your workflow? Please send a comment!


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Takis Athanassiou

Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! He frequent writes at his personal blog and at Leadership Initiative @Businnes! You can add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.