The following is a guest post from Bernhard Schroeder, author of Fail Fast or Win Big: The Start-Up Plan for Starting Now, explaining what it really takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
I have met a lot of people who have become really good entrepreneurs. They are not special. What is the most important thing they do? It is that they do. I also tend to see successful entrepreneurs exhibit these behaviors:
Founders create start-ups; teams build companies. No single entrepreneur can possibly know it all and run it all. What true entrepreneurs realize is that they are only good at one or two things and so they need to attract the best possible people to help them in building a real company. Team-building tip: Invest in creating an outstanding diversified network; you will need it.
Mentors really do matter. Everyone seeking to be an entrepreneur, regardless of age, needs a mentor. Mentors will help you neutralize your weaknesses and expand your strengths. They will keep you from making ‘career limiting’ mistakes. They will be a great sounding board. They will make you think. They will hold you accountable. Mentee must: Look for a person who has deep experience in an area where you aim to launch a company. Look for someone to push and support you toward the next level of your life.
Entrepreneurship is a mentality. Lean, hungry, and resourceful. That’s the ideal state of mind for an entrepreneur. Leverage every resource possible, whether that’s office space, technology, or people. Think lean, be lean. If you behave in this manner, you will get things done and other people around you will become resourceful as well. To start thinking like an entrepreneur: Assume you won’t get enough—or any—money to launch your company. Don’t use that as an excuse. Use it as an advantage that will move you faster.
Embrace the idea of listening. Being an entrepreneur takes more than thinking you have a great product or service to offer. It takes knowing whether that product or service is something customers actually want or need. That takes listening to advisers, employees, competitors, forecasters, and, above all, potential customers. A collective customer voice is your truth. Ignore it at your peril. Listen up: Arrogance rarely pays. Be prepared to adjust your product or service, based on customer feedback and changes occurring in the marketplace.
BERNHARD SCHROEDER is the Director of Programs at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center at San Diego State University. One of the premier programs of its kind in the country, Forbes ranked SDSU #18 among universities in the United States for entrepreneurship. Schroeder helped to create a $1 billion company CKS|Partners, the world’s largest integrated marketing communications agency. He has worked with American Express, Apple, Mazda, GM, Kellogg’s, Levi’s, Nikon, and Visa, among many outstanding firms and brands. He was also involved in the initial branding and marketing launches for Amazon, ESPN Online, Travelocity, and Yahoo! In 2013, he spoke about failing fast or winning big at a Tedx Event in Southern California, which then became the book Fail Fast or Win Big.