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Kamis, 19 Agustus 2010

Could You Succeed as an Entrepreneur?

Look for These 7 Signs
by Richard Barrington,

Entrepreneurs have a knack for seeing opportunities where others don't. If you see 2009 as a good time to start a business despite the recession, then you may have an entrepreneurial perspective. Now you need to know if you have some of the other characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

What helps entrepreneurs these days is that virtual business models put more emphasis on talent and less on administration and infrastructure. After all, e-commerce solutions can give you an instant retail presence, credit card processing services can handle your receivables, and equipment leasing can give you access to any machinery necessary with a minimal up-front investment.

So now all you need is the right set of skills and characteristics. Consider whether you have the following ingredients of successful entrepreneurship:

  1. A stand-out talent. You should be able to identify at least one area of ability that makes you stand out from the crowd. This can be anything: technical expertise, sales skill, marketing insight, or logistical know-how. Since small businesses are talent-driven, you have to start out with the belief that you have the raw material with which to compete and succeed. It helps if your skills happen to be in areas with growing demand, such as health care or computer technology. If you have medical knowledge or a skill such as Web design, you may have a little wind at your back.
  2. A differing perspective. "Me-too" businesses have a tough time making a mark, especially during a weak economy. Your business should be founded on the idea that there is a better way to do things. Ideally, you should have enough experience in your chosen industry to be familiar with the normal way business is done, and to have developed some unique insights as to how that can be improved. Being able to clearly articulate a differing perspective should be central to your business plan. In turn, it should also become the vision you communicate to everyone you hire, and the selling proposition you use to pitch potential customers.
  3. A network of contacts. Experience is valuable not only for knowing how other companies do things, but also for helping you form a network that will get your new company up and running more quickly. Remember, people -- especially business-to-business customers -- can be reluctant to do business with a start-up. You should have some contacts who respect you enough personally to take a chance on your new business. Of course a network of contacts can also help you identify potential investors, suppliers, and talented employees.
  4. A war chest. Don't start your venture unless you have identified sufficient funding to not only get started, but to keep your business running through the inevitable lean months at the beginning. Many businesses are forced to go under just as they would be starting to gain some momentum, simply because they underestimated the amount of time it would take for profits to start rolling in. Funding can be from your own savings, outside investors, or loans. Of course, external sources of funding are harder to come by in a recession, but you can use techniques such as equipment leasing and virtual offices to reduce the need for this type of funding.
  5. An acceptance of risk. You should start any new business with a commitment to succeed, but an acceptance of the risk involved. Entrepreneurs are often people who are willing to trade a sure thing working for someone else for even a risky chance at running their own show.
  6. An eye for complementary talent. Once you start hiring people, you should think in terms of rounding out the team rather than looking for people just like yourself. It can be a mistake to have too many would-be leaders in one organization. If you have an independent and visionary outlook, you might do well to complement that with a strong administrator who can take care of the details.
  7. Persistence. Not only does it take a long time for a new business to gain traction, but entrepreneurs often don't succeed on their first try. As long as you have confidence in the first two items on this list -- your talent and your unique perspective on the business -- you should be willing to keep trying.

Richard Barrington is a freelance writer and novelist who previously spent over 20 years as an investment industry executive.

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