The Top 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship


Photo: Pranav Shrestha

In these tough economic times, more and more people are turning to entrepreneurship as an alternative to traditional employment. I applaud this trend, but caution all of you thinking this direction to approach entrepreneurship with your eyes wide open. It is not for everyone, as the entrepreneur’s path is fraught with challenges.Many experts have tried to clearly lay out the criteria for success in a way that allows you to judge your own situation and your own temperament, and make a rational decision before starting down this path. One of the best summaries I have seen is a new book by Bill Murphy, Jr., titled “The Intelligent Entrepreneur,” which outlines the 10 rules of successful entrepreneurship, as follows:

Martin Zwilling is CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc.; he also serves as Board Member and Executive in Residence at Callaman Ventures and is an advisory board member for multiple startups.This post was originally published on his blog, and it is republished here with permission.

1. Make the commitment

Entrepreneurship can be learned. But you have to be committed to the process of building your own thing and the act of creating something, rather than just coming up with an idea.

It will likely take several ideas, with the learning process of failing on a couple, before you can call yourself a successful entrepreneur.

2. Find a problem, then solve it

Rather than finding a new idea first, try finding a problem first.

Problem solvers make successful entrepreneurs. Idea people are dreamers, who often don't enjoy the hard work of a solution in a specific time frame to make money.

3. Think big, thing new, think again

In other words, make sure your solution will scale up.

Professional investors will tell you they look for business plans that can credibly project revenues of at least $20M within five years, or they won't justify an investment.

4. You can't do it alone

Have a support team of people you know and trust. An idea person and a problem solver make a great team.

Successful entrepreneurs have to work well with people, whether they be partners, investors, employees, suppliers, or customers.

5. You must do it alone

6. Manage risk

Without risk, there can be no innovation. Not every idea can, or will, be a winner. Fear of failure will kill innovation, but reckless disregard for risk will kill a business.

The successful entrepreneur is able to find the balance between these two extremes.

7. Learn to lead

In a startup, the entrepreneur leader has to do two things. First, drive the business creation process, and secondly, inspire all the others.

The others include the rest of the team, investors, and customers. That means hands-on leadership and effective communication.

8. Learn to sell

9. Persist, persevere, prevail

Experts say the prime cause of failure in business is quitting too soon.

The successful entrepreneur never gives up, and uses creativity to overcome all obstacles, including personal, financial, and technical ones.

10. Time, not money, is the key resource

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a job. Be prepared to play the game for life. There are no quick fixes, or quick get-rich solutions.

Learn to manage and balance your time; it's the one thing that belongs to you alone. Great entrepreneurs have a life outside of work, and find time to give back.

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