Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days. Gone is the era when the American dream was to land a job and stick with it, climbing the corporate ladder and retiring with a pension someday. We’ve all seen just a little too much of companies closing down and people being kicked to the curb, regardless or their job performance or their dedication.
We all have the wary feeling that we can’t trust an employer to sustain us and we need to be working for ourselves if we’re going to make it in life. There’s a lot of truth in that, but a couple of caveats. One, you can’t just sit around in your parents’ basement until you’re thirty, waiting for the world to catch on to how awesome you are. You need to be a contributing member of society even as you’re developing your dreams. Two, don’t let a good day job slip away from you while you work on your “side hustle.” You need something to make the money required to put your plans into action.
Let me recommend an extremely readable and inspiring book to you. You might be surprised to know it was written by Gene Simmons of rock band KISS. The book is entitled Me, Inc. and it describes Gene’s rise to success, which occurred in large part due to a work ethic that would not quit. And I don’t mean playing music when I say work; I mean coming to this country as an immigrant, learning English, getting his degree, working days in an office an nights in a deli, selling comic books and typing term papers on the weekends. Work. This guy was all about succeeding in life and making money, and he was brilliant at it. Read it, but meanwhile put these tips into action starting today.
• Stop dreaming and get going. Again, I’m not saying quit your job and go “all in” but just stop talking about what you might do one day. Determine what the first step should be, and take it.
• Be prepared. A stroke of luck always helps, but it’s when luck meets preparation that the magic happens.
• Don’t let social media suck your time away. Focus on the actual meat of your business, rather than on how many “likes” you’ve attracted. Are those “likes” putting any money in your pocket? If not, they are the wrong thing to focus on.
• Keep learning. Never believe you have become the ultimate expert, and nobody can tell you anything you don’t already know. Business evolves and changes constantly, and you need to keep learning not only to stay on top of your game, but to keep your own passion ignited.
• Don’t partner with anyone who doesn’t click. If you need to branch out, grow your team, or partner with someone who knows more than you about a certain area, never settle for the one who looks good on paper, or the one you think “might be okay.” This relationship could be almost as important as a marriage. It’s important that you mesh well.
• Focus on your target audience or customer. Certainly you’re going to hope that the entire world will love and want your product or service. But to begin with, narrow your focus to the most likely group and gain a foothold.
• Know that it will be a rocky road. Whether you struggle to get attention or whether overwhelming success takes you by surprise, there will be challenges either way. Just remember why you went into this and who you’re working for, and persevere through the tough spots. It will be worth it in the end, when the only boss you have to please is yourself.