Most of us, at one point in our lives, imagine what it would be like to own our own business. To be our own boss. To make our own destiny. We’ve also most likely done a bit of research, and realized how difficult founding a company actually is.
However, it’s not impossible. Luckily, many successful entrepreneurs have shared words of wisdom which you can use as your foundation while paving a path to success.
1. Dream Big, Do More
Every good business starts with a clear vision. The initial idea may literally come to you in a dream, or in those few fleeting moments before you fall asleep. But your idea can’t just stay in your head. Estée Lauder, co-founder of Estée Lauder Companies, once said, “I didn’t get here by dreaming or thinking about it. I got here by doing it.” You could have an incredibly innovative idea that could change the course of human history, but if you fail to take action, it doesn’t mean anything.
2. Put Yourself Out There
Once you have a dream and a plan to make that dream come true, you have to step outside of your comfort zone to make it happen. Author Nora Roberts explains, “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” You’re bound to hear “no” as you work towards achieving your entrepreneurial goals, but hearing “no” is much better than hearing nothing at all. Don’t be afraid to fail; instead, be wary of being so afraid of failure that you never take the first step toward success.
3. Be True to Yourself
You shouldn’t found a business on ideas, products, or approaches that aren’t true to who you are as a person. World-famous chef Rachael Ray believes that you should “decide what it is that you are and then stay true to that thing. My brand is based very much on how I live my day-to-day life.” Whatever idea has recently popped into your head got there because it’s meaningful to you in some way. Don’t start out on some venture because you think other people will enjoy your product; do it because you have faith in your own idea.
4. Be Passionate
You’ll never be successful if your heart’s not invested in what you’re doing. Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mary Kay Ash once said, “My goal is to live my life in such a way that when I die, someone can say, ‘she cared”” Ash didn’t just have a vision; she had a goal, and she worked daily to achieve that goal. If you’re passionate and put your all into everything you set out to do, even when you fail you’ll know you did the best you could have done. If you fail simply because you didn’t try your best, you’ve not only failed at your venture, but you’ve failed to make full use of the passion that started it all.
5. Embrace the Lifestyle
Running a successful business is hard work, and is definitely not for the faint of heart. If your idea of making a living is working 9-5, Monday to Friday only, you’ll never succeed as an entrepreneur. Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, says, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you. Forget about vacations, about going home at 6 pm. Last thing at night you’ll send emails, first thing in the morning you’ll read emails, and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. But it’s hugely rewarding, as you’re fulfilling something for yourself.” Some people are just born with the drive to keep moving, no matter how physically and mentally exhausted they are. Know that if you want to start your own business, you’re going to have to be ready to ‘switch on’ at any given moment. But the rewards you’ll reap in the long run will be hugely satisfying.
6. Embrace Your Mortality
After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a commencement address at Stanford University, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Imagine finding out tomorrow that you have six months to live. That idea you’ve been toying with in the back of your mind for ages will most likely never come to fruition, and you have to live the last six months of your life knowing that you wasted the gift you were given. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, and there will certainly come a day when it will be too late to chase your dreams.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm2.staticflickr.com