In this age of rapid economic expansion, it’s currently easier than ever to start your own successful business. People from different backgrounds, with varying degrees of limitations, have all started and built thriving businesses. And they’ve enjoyed varying levels of success by focusing on three key components.
First, you must find the right business for you. Next, you need to be passionate about the business you choose. And lastly, you must be willing to dedicate time and effort to the business before realizing any fruits from your labor. Follow these basic principles, and you, too, can be an entrepreneurial success story.
Seventy-four percent of all self-made millionaires in America today made their fortune by building their own successful businesses. And here’s an important point: Many of these people never owned a business previously. You do not need to have experience in entrepreneurship. You just need to learn everything necessary about your particular business and then apply it as you go along.
Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step.” The most important single quality in starting and building your own successful business is courage. Like the starship Enterprise, you have to have the courage to go where you’ve never gone before. No matter how many other people have started and built businesses, when you embark on this journey, you are going to feel like you are the first person who has ever done it. And, in your terms, you are.
What Does It Take to Start Your Own Business in America?
Of course, if you have a clear idea of the kind of business you want to be in, that’s a great place to start. But if you aren’t sure, how do you fi nd one? There are a hundred different ways. But the most important is to get into something you really like, enjoy and care about. Passion is the critical factor in determining business success. As Peter Drucker said, “Whenever you see something getting done, you fi nd a ‘monomaniac’ with a mission.” Every single business needs a dedicated champion who lives and breathes the success of that business and enterprise. Without a champion, a person who is passionately committed to making that business successful, who cares deeply about the business, the products, services and the customers, the business will defi nitely fail.
This is why you have to pick something you care about and enjoy. Many people start businesses selling products they particularly like using themselves. Others start businesses because they are passionate about the technology or the science involved. Some start businesses as outgrowths of their hobbies or their interests in life. Look around you at the parts of your life you enjoy the most. Think about the products and services you have the strongest feelings about.
Many people think the reason for starting a business is to make a lot of money. The primary reason people turn to owning their own business, however, is for the sense of personal freedom it offers. Many entrepreneurs don’t initially earn as much after taxes as they would as an employee. However, they are their own bosses. They are free. And this is worth more to them than the security of a corporate environment.
Whatever your motivations, if you’ve ever thought of starting your own business, you should just get on with it, right now. You can start small, with a direct selling business, for instance. Start working out of your house, offering a product or service part time, in the evenings and on weekends. You have to get
your entrepreneurial experience and there is no other way to get it except by taking the plunge and learning as you go along.
Human beings are wonderful in the sense that they are “learning organisms.” You learn at an incredible rate, depending upon the amount of experiences you subject yourself to. Most entrepreneurs who become successful have many months and even years of experience as entrepreneurs under their belts. They have
been through every up and down, every twist and turn that is possible for a small-business person to experience. As a result, they become wiser and they make fewer mistakes. They do more of the right things and they not only earn more, but also hold on to a greater percentage of their profi ts. The cumulative result over a lifetime is financial success and independence.
Explore and Investigate
Once you have decided you want to experience the rewards of small business success, your job is to explore every single detail of the business. Leave nothing to chance; investigate before you step; talk to lots of people and get lots of input. Your job is to minimize, reduce and eliminate risk wherever possible in the pursuit of profit, so the profi ts are real and the losses are minimal or non-existent. You should plan to grow by bootstrapping. This means you start small and your business grows out of your commitment to learning and the sales generated from your belief in the product or service you offer. One of the advantages of a direct selling business is that it enables you to gradually develop the skills and abilities you will need as your organization grows.
When you start your new business, the most valuable assets you have are your energy, imagination, character and discipline. It is your ability to get in there and do the work to create the results. It is your ability to make the key decisions and to get out there face to face with the customers and make the sales. It is the ability to follow through on your commitments and promises. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “A great institution is the length and shadow of a single man.” Well, even a small organization or company is the length and shadow of a single person. You are the business. The business is you. The business can never be more or less, better or worse, than you are, on an hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute basis. The business is really a mirror image of your character and ability. Your business tells you and the world who you really are.
What Are the Chances I Will Be Successful?
According to studies by the major accounting firms, investigating the finances and fortunes of tens of thousands of businesses over the years, the statistics are consistent and usually unavoidable. It takes about two years after a business starts up for the business to break even. During that two year period, the business will suffer mostly losses that will have to be made up from the energy and resources of the entrepreneur.
In years three and four, the business will make a profit, and most of those profi ts will go into paying back the bills and debts that were incurred in the first two years. After four years, the business will start to break into the clear and the entrepreneur will start to make some good money. It is only after the seventh year of entrepreneurship that the business starts to really be successful and the entrepreneur begins to enjoy the good life that is possible for a highly paid person in America. Remember, most of the highest-paid people in America are entrepreneurs who have passed the seven-year point in building and running their own businesses.
When you decide to start your own business, you can do it impulsively because of a significant emotional experience or event in your life, like the loss of a job or the appearance of an opportunity, or you can do it slowly and deliberately by spending several weeks or months in study and preparation. In either case, investigate before you invest your time and money. I learned from a very wealthy man many years ago that it is much easier to get into something than it is to get out of it. It is much more important to spend lots of time investigating, in advance, before committing time and resources to a particular business venture. This will do more to assure your long-term success than anything else.
This tenet says that 20 percent of what you do will account for 80 percent of your results. There is also a 20/80 Rule that says the 20 percent of the time you spend in planning and evaluating at the beginning will be worth 80 percent of the results you eventually experience.
When most people think of owning their own business, they often think of one word, franchise. Buying into a franchise is a proven, simple plan. Unfortunately, with franchise fees ranging from $20,000 to $1 million or more, it makes the “average” franchise a difficult start-up business for the “average” person.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say you decided to open a very popular, successful fast-food hamburger franchise. In the year 2000, the cost to open that franchise ranged between $400,000 and $1.4 million. Most franchisors require a minimum of $175,000 of “non-borrowed personal resources” for an individual to purchase a franchise. “Non-borrowed personal resources” are liquid assets such as securities, bonds and real estate equity other than your house.
There is an additional franchise fee of $45,000, and a percentage of your gross revenue (not profit) is paid to the company every month. On top of that, one-third of all franchises fail. You can become a freelancer or independent contractor and have the freedom to take the jobs you want, when you want. You handle your marketing, negotiating and revenue collecting. Most independent contractors spend about 90 percent of their time running the business and about 10 percent of their time making money. They often say they don’t own a business at all; the business actually owns them!
You could open up your own shop or specialty store if you wanted to make more money. You could turn your hobby or passion into a successful venture. But be sure to allow enough for the overhead cost for rent, advertising, liability insurance and employees. Most store owners work 6 or 7 days a week, opening the doors in the morning and locking them at night.
You, Too, Can Do What More Than 13 Million Have Done Direct selling is another possible avenue for starting a business. You can begin in many direct selling businesses for very little or absolutely nothing. The average cost to get into a direct selling business is very low, under $500. Do your homework. Of course, you also have the advantages of not carrying inventory, investing in product development costs, setting up operations, or developing marketing plans and materials. When you start a direct selling business, the company takes care of most, if not all, of the costs typically associated with starting your own business. Essentially, you are free to begin selling your new company’s product or service immediately.
There are many outstanding direct selling companies in America today.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few fly-by-night direct selling companies as well. But here’s the catch: Everything that applies to starting your own business, in terms of business planning, selling, budgeting, projecting, and investing many months and even years, applies to building a successful direct selling business. If you are not prepared to invest three to five years building your business, don’t get in it in the first place.
The greatest trap for would-be entrepreneurs in America is the lure of get-rich-quick schemes, easy money, something-for-nothing ideas that are advertised and promoted everywhere. There is within the psyche of most young people a passionate desire to shortcut the process of success by finding a quick, easy way to jump the line and get to the head of the class without paying the full price in terms of hard work. Make the decision this is not for you. Refuse to look for or listen to any get-rich-quick schemes. Walk away. The very act of looking for something for nothing can be fatal to your future.
Once you decide on a new business, remember the primary sources of value in America today are time and knowledge. Time refers to the speed at which you can deliver your product or service to your customers. Knowledge refers to the expertise you put into your product or service.
By starting your new business at home, you can enjoy specific financial and tax benefits. Find out what they are. Be perfectly correct in all your financial dealings with everyone in your financial life: your bankers, your suppliers, your customers and tax people. Remember, life is very long and everything you do financially follows you for years and years.
There has never been a better time to achieve financial independence by starting your own business than today. Anything that anyone else has done, and especially something that millions of other people have done, you can do as well, and probably even better. You can piggyback on the knowledge and experience of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who have put their best ideas and insights into books, tapes and courses. You can become one of the most successful businesspeople in America by simply doing what others have done before you. There are no limits, except the limits you place on your own imagination.
Brian Tracy is chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, specializing in training and development of individuals and organizations. Tracy has consulted for more than 1,000 companies and addressed more than 4 million people in seminars throughout the world.