If anyone should be giving advice about how to become a successful entrepreneur, it would probably not be me. While I am earning money on my own outside of my day job, it’s not consistent or reliable. Part of the reason for this is that I never intended on becoming a business owner of this form. I’ve had a strong interest in computers since I was young and in web design and programming since 1994. While I decided I could see myself designing websites on the side, I never thought that writing would be the driver for the online business. Even when starting Consumerism Commentary five years ago, I didn’t start it with the intent of earning money.
I wouldn’t call my approach a “mistake” for me, but this approach is not the best for creating a successful business from scratch. Some of the best advice would be the opposite of my original thought process. Have clear goals, solicit social and financial support, be an expert in your field, research the market for your service or product, seek advice or mentoring from other similar, successful entrepreneurs, and don’t quit your day job.
The last piece of advice has been one that I have followed. At the end of last year, I decided that I would determine by the end of June 2008 whether I would be in a strong enough position to quit my moderately-supportive day job at a financial services company and give working for myself a try full-time. I decided not to quit.
There are strong arguments for maintaining a relatively secure job while laying the groundwork for your own business. With a stable income, you can fund your endeavors. With benefits from your day job, you don’t have to worry about making enough money from your side work to support you if you encounter medical emergencies.
On the other hand, there are some reasons why you can’t be a successful entrepreneur if all you can devote to the business is your spare time. The more aggressive your goals, the more risk you must be willing to take.
Abandon your day job. If “wild success” is an integral part of your goals, keeping a day job is a distraction. Yes, this means giving up your income. For driven individuals, this is strong motivation to develop the business to a point where it can support you as quickly as possible or to aggressively seek financial backing.
If I were to quit my day job, where I earn less in terms of gross pay than I earn from side projects in total, I would be able to focus on building my business with all of my effort rather than my “spare” effort at night and on weekends. Perhaps I’m not a risk taker, but I’m going to need a stronger sign of viability than what I’ve experienced so far. This is a risk a budding entrepreneur must take.
Don’t expect to have more time with your family. One of the main reasons people say they would like to become an “entrepreneur” is that it would allow them to spend more time with family. That may be fine if your intent is to sell products made by someone else on eBay but if you are trying to build a unique business that provides an original product or service or if you are trying to be the best at what you do, you will have less time for friends and family than you had when all you had to worry about was your day job.
All the other typical entrepreneurial advice still applies. It’ll take dedication and a detailed plan for a would-be entrepreneur to become successful. But that success requires sacrifices and risks. It’s easy to sell the idea that you can become rich “in your spare time” or in the “comfort of your own home” like the infomercials promise. A real entrepreneur, someone at the top of their niche, has no “spare time” and very little “comfort,” particularly when they are still building their business.
This article is part of the July MoneyBlogNetwork writing project. Here are more articles from around the web about entrepreneurship.
- 5 Tips for Starting a Small Business (Get Rich Slowly)
- Are You Thinking of Quitting the Nine to Five? (Mighty Bargain Hunter)
- My Best Advice for New Entrepreneurs (Free Money Finance)
- Advice for Entrepreneurs (Five Cent Nickel)
- My Best Thoughts for the New Entrepreneur (No Credit Needed)
- How to Encourage Your Budding Entrepreneur (All Financial Matters)
- Create a Business Plan by Answering 4 Simple Questions (Wise Bread)
- Basic Business Advice From an Accidental Entrepreneur (The Digerati Life)
- Of Exit Strategies and Small Businesses (Blunt Money)
- My Advice for New Entrepreneurs (No Debt Plan)
- So You Think You Can Sell Banana Peelers? (Personal Finance Analyst)
- 6 Key Tips for Starting a Part-Time Business (Think Your Way to Wealth)
Updated February 10, 2011 and originally published July 28, 2008.