What is the secret to entrepreneurial success?

Columnists
Chris Atkinson

BLM caught up with Chris Atkinson of Strategic Leadership UK, to discuss the secrets that make entrepreneurs successful. 

We are living through an incredible age for entrepreneurialism. Never before in history has it been so easy for people to take an idea and market it to a potentially global customer base.

Look at the opportunities that platforms such as Google, eBay, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and YouTube provide to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial individuals with an idea are able to create a business and use these channels (or others) to setup up a fledgling enterprise with relatively low costs but large reach.

However, with the ease of access has also come increased competition, market saturation and highly inconsistent quality.

If entrepreneurs want to thrive in this new economic environment there are some factors which increase the likelihood of success and some common pitfalls which all too often undo the aspirations of new enterprises.

A successful entrepreneurial business is built on finding the ‘sweet spot’ where the following three factors overlap:

Your passion – what you get excited about and care about

Your skills – what you are good at and have a natural talent for

Commercial need – product or service that people are willing to pay for

With passion and skill but no commercial need it is nearly impossible to create a sustainable business. If you have skills and a commercial need but no passion you may well find commercial success but you will find it difficult to motivate yourself to truly commit the time and energy needed.

Finally, to have passion and a commercial need but not the necessary skills you will quickly frustrate customers and fail to secure repeat business. The best entrepreneurs are those who manage to find an enterprise that satisfies all three areas.

Personality

As you might realise, an entrepreneur must to some extent build around their personality as much as around the commercial needs. A clinical approach to finding gaps in the market will not necessary lead to success unless it is powered by a passion to fill that gap.

Aligning these three things gives a much stronger likelihood of success however it is still no guarantee. Once a new opportunity has been identified, there are two significant pitfalls lurking in the early stages that commonly kill young start-ups.

Branding and Beauty:

One of the most enjoyable things when creating a new business is choosing a name, creating a website and making your offering look fantastic. Be warned however these steps are one of the most common points of failure as they require a huge amount of time and often a lot of money.

Many entrepreneurs assume that getting all this perfect will lead to business success but unfortunately this is only partly true. It is FAR better to get some early customers to give you income then, as your confidence and experience grows, start to invest the income into formalising the business and the brand. Don’t get seduced by the enjoyable tasks purely because they feed your ego.

Who is Doing the Selling?

The other major issue is that someone needs to be 100% focused on sales to ensure a stable and sustainable business in the early days.

Many entrepreneurs are so enthralled by their own idea that they assume “if I build it they will come”. Sadly, this is unlikely; getting people to spend money with you and buy from you needs to be a full time focus in the early days.

No matter how good the idea, you need to be willing to get stuck into the often-thankless task of selling. If you aren’t willing to be a salesperson in some form don’t embark on the venture.

Golden age 

In summary, this is a golden age of entrepreneurialism. There are opportunities abound for you to take an idea and turn it into a reality. Look for a commercial need but make sure that you care about the area you focus on and that you have been told in the past that you are particularly skilled in this thing.

Be bold and start selling immediately to prove the concept before you invest heavily in branding, allow yourself to do the fun stuff slowly as the business demonstrates that it works and generates revenue.

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