Someone once said, "The joy of entrepreneurship is to be able to work twice as hard for half as much". Truer words are seldom spoken. As any true entrepreneur will vouch, it’s not money that drives him or her.
Although money is an important factor, a number of people venture into entrepreneurship not because of the financial gains but because they want to do their own stuff. Paradoxically, more often than not, entrepreneurs end up making more money than they ever expected. Take the case of Anita Roddick, a successful woman entrepreneur in the US. In 1976, Anita started retailing homemade naturally inspired products through The Body Shop, a small shop in Brighton on the South Coast of England, with only around 25 hand-mixed products on sale. Today, twenty five years later, The Body Shop has evolved into a worldwide network of shops operating in 47 countries with over 1,500 outlets.
What then drives entrepreneurs, you may ask? Successful businessmen agree on certain basic motivators that steered them on to the entrepreneurial path. Here are some of them:
This one tops the list. Imagine doing what you love doing and being paid for it – isn’t it really wonderful? Most entrepreneurs are individuals with a strong desire for creative expression. These individuals want to do new things or do old things in a new way. There are many instances of people having left their well-paying jobs to follow their dreams. Like B Mahesh, a full time journalist, who left his secure job and founded a bookstore called Paperback in Thane City. He says he simply followed his dreams as he believes that dreams have a wonderful way of coming true. Today, his small but classy bookstore has carved a niche for itself not just in Thane, but also in the surrounding suburbs.
Contrary to what most people believe, the risk associated with self-employment is lower than the risk associated with a job. Most people view their employment as a type of security. But in the real sense, there is no such thing as job security. Every one knows that he or she can get fired anytime, with or without notice. The feeling of absolute security can come only from within and real entrepreneurs seem to know this inherent fact.
Entrepreneurs always looks for newer avenues to apply themselves and as a result, make themselves a lot more self-reliant. In the process of setting up and running a business, they are able to not only sharpen their core professional skills but also acquire peripheral skills and abilities. Thus an entrepreneur’s professional competency rating climbs and what ensues is an overall reduction in risk.
Entrepreneurs value freedom and flexibility. But in a job set-up, it is often observed that there is very little room for doing things your way. You are expected to follow a pattern determined by the culture of your organization and often this proves to be a bottleneck when it comes to operating without restraint.
By being your own boss, you can adopt new ideas quickly. Since your company will usually be a small business – at least in the beginning – you won’t need to approach the board to get permission, each time you wish to try something new. If the idea doesn’t work you can drop it just as quickly. This opportunity for flexibility is one of the greatest assets of an entrepreneur.
Sense of accomplishment
As an entrepreneur, one experiences a pride in ownership. Also, entrepreneurs derive great satisfaction from offering a product or service which is valued in the market place. Because you can pay yourself a salary and the profit or return on your investment will also be yours, you anticipate a good income once your business is established.
What makes a good entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurial drive is alright. But drive alone is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. Let’s take a look at the other side – the ingredients that go into making a successful entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship guarantees freedom. But freedom does not imply lack of discipline. In fact it requires tremendous self-discipline to be a successful entrepreneur. What freedom does mean, in the context of entrepreneurship, is the flexibility to adjust according to the need of the hour. This freedom from rigidity is perhaps the single most important factor that contributes to the success of an entrepreneur. At times you may work for days together, even on Sundays, and then, when there is no work on the plate, take off for a short trip to the nearby hills. You can afford to do this because you do not have a boss. Clearly, freedom from rigid work schedules helps you grow into a more efficient and effective manager, yet enjoy your free time.
The term responsibility literally means ability to respond. And that’s what entrepreneurship is all about. Think about it. If you have employees, you must meet their payroll month after month. You must always have money to pay creditors – the man who sells you goods or raw materials, the dealer who sells you equipment, your landlord, the publisher running your advertisements, the income-tax department, and many others. All of these must be paid before you can consider the "profits" yours.
You must accept sole responsibility for all final decisions. A wrong judgment on your part can result in losses not only to yourself but, also to your employees, creditors, and customers. Moreover, you must withstand, alone, the adverse situations caused by circumstances frequently beyond your control.
By now you must have figured that keeping your business profitable means long hours of hard work, consistently. Also, it could very well not be the work you want to do. As someone else’s employee you acquired certain skill sets. In your own business, you not only use these skills forty hours a week, but also perform the management tasks. Keeping books, maintaining accounting records, long-range planning, handling contingencies and coping with expediting are everyday chores of a small businessman. Finally, when everyone else goes home you may even have to sweep the floor.
Boss or Employee?
You will be your most important employee. As a result, you will have rate yourself as objectively as you rate any prospective employee. As a prospective operator of your own business, acknowledge that you are weak in certain areas and cover the deficiency by either retraining yourself or hiring someone with the necessary skill.
No matter what your business, to succeed you must always satisfy your customers. If you don’t give the customers what they want, they’ll go somewhere else and you’ll be out of business. This only means that every customer or potential customer is your boss. Your creditors too may dictate to you, and your competitors’ actions may force you into making decisions that you don’t want to make.
Finally, it takes considerable grit and determination to go the entrepreneurial way. "Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision", said Peter Drucker, one of the most admired modern management guru. This courage is what differentiates entrepreneurs from the rest.
To sum up, successful entrepreneurs are often driven by more than just the desire to make loads of money – they are motivated by a love for freedom, a longing for creative expression and a need for self-reliance. Yet, this drive alone is not enough and should be accompanied by discipline, responsibility and lots of hard work.