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Secrets of a successful entrepreneur

By Sam Stoffel, Founder and CEO of Profit Accumulator

Many people dream of being their own boss, but the reality often disappoints. Entrepreneurship is not about coming up with a great business idea and hoping it might happen. With no guarantee of success, it takes persistence, patience, belief and every fibre of your being to make something out of nothing.

I started my first business on a shoestring budget while studying cinema and photography at university. I had no concept of the demands that would be made on my time but, despite many mistakes and steep learning curves, I am fortunate to have a business that has grown both successfully and profitably.

With disconcerting statistics advising that the majority of start-ups fail within the first year of trading, what is it that makes one succeed over another? Having run my own business for over five years and, in having met a wealth of inspirational entrepreneurs, I believe the following points are key to success:

Work on your business, not in it

If you haven’t read the ‘E-Myth’ by Michael E. Gerber, I strongly advise you to. Here, he talks about the fact that many entrepreneurs are in fact practitioners of their trade and therefore in starting their own business struggle to move beyond the ‘doing’ of the work to actually running a business.

The business owners who work ‘on’ their business instead of ‘in’ it are the ones that have the headspace for strategic and long-term vision. As a result, they can quickly establish what is or isn’t working without getting bogged down in day-to-day tasks, enabling them to experience faster growth.

Get it done today

When your business starts to make profit, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the hard work is done. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. You are only just beginning your entrepreneurial journey and need to continuously push the boundaries of what you think you are capable of achieving.

Don’t ever get complacent. Even if you get to the top of a market, you have to keep innovating and investing in your product, your team and your customers in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Find your niche and do it well

When you have one good idea that is well received, it is easy to start thinking that any additional businesses will be just as successful.

There is every chance that they might be, but don’t run before you can walk. Focus on establishing your core business first before you rush to create others. The same principle applies to your business in hand: find your market niche, focus on a core product or service offering and ensure they are the best they can be.

When you have established a reputation for reliability and excellence, only then should you start thinking about the other opportunities.

Value your team

Behind every successful entrepreneur is a talented and successful team, united in the vision of their leader. When creating a business, it’s so easy to think that you can do everything yourself and that you can do it better. However, this way of thinking only stunts growth.

When you’re ready to recruit, find staff members who are better and more talented than you, constantly making yourself redundant with every hire. The business leaders who recognise the importance of doing this are able to generate faster and more effective growth.

Find a mentor

The entrepreneur takes the hard road. In the early days, every decision you make is a stress, risk and an opportunity cost. It can be difficult for friends and family to understand this and your situation.

A fellow entrepreneur can often provide advice and support when you need it most. The best ones do so in an inspiring, trustworthy, and non-judgmental manner, creating a place where questions can be asked, ideas can be exchanged and mistakes used as learning opportunities. If you cannot find someone suitable, read or listen to audiobooks on entrepreneurship.