Are you ready to be an entrepreneur in 2018? Maybe you have a side gig you’re ready to turn into a full-time business or you’re excited to own and operate a franchise. You’re ready to embrace the #thehustleisreal hashtag and share photos on Instagram of all the cups of coffee you’re chugging to make your dreams a reality.
Here’s the thing though: the entrepreneurial hustle is real. Too real, at times. Entrepreneurship is an all-consuming lifestyle, especially when a small business is just starting out. 8 to 5 schedules are replaced by 24/7 workloads. Beyond your offerings, consider the structure of the business. Do you have the necessary licenses and permits? Have you incorporated? What does your cash flow look like? And then there’s the entrepreneur themselves and their own characteristics. In moments of success and failure, do you have the kind of personality that can handle running a small business?
If you think you’re ready to become the master of your own destiny, answer these four unusual questions first.
Are you ready to communicate with people?
As an entrepreneur, you should be prepared to be surrounded by people from all walks of life. Your employees, mentors, financial advisors, support system of family and friends, and customers are just a few of those now in your orbit. Beyond them are even more people — potential investors, partners, competitors, and more customers.
Everyone will have a certain image of you and your brand, as depicted through the storytelling on your website, in the press, and even through your social media accounts. As such, you will need to take care of that image and uphold it in a positive light. Think about your communication style. How quickly do you respond to anyone who has a question? What is your tone like, whether in person or via email or tweets? Now think about the communication styles of others. If you don’t know how they like to be communicated with, it’s time that you made it a point to find out and reach them on their level.
How do you listen?
Listening is a lot harder than it looks. Even if you take notes, your mind may wander during the conversation to think about what’s left on your to-do list. And if what you’re hearing is difficult to process, like angry complaints from customers, it can be extremely hard to take it in.
The key to listening as an entrepreneur is to keep an open mind. Not everything that happens is an immediate ding against you and your business. Be willing to listen to what everyone has to say and focus on the opportunity to grow from the experience.
Do you research and learn something new each day?
Entrepreneurs are natural risk-takers — you have to be in order to run something as unpredictable as a small business! They don’t mind a little trial and error to get from Point A to Point B. If it works out, that’s great and if it doesn’t, they’re heading back to square one.
However, entrepreneurship is about more than experimenting. There’s a research component involved, to take the time to understand more about your target audience, competition, and even your own brand’s offerings by studying the materials and numbers you have at your disposal. Later down the line, your business may reach a comfortable place where you’ll feel inclined to coast on its success. Don’t be tempted. Encourage yourself, and your team members, to study and learn at least one new thing each day.
Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?
When I bought my business from Intuit in 2009, the United States was in the grips of a recession. It was a difficult time for any company to be in business and to see the glass as perpetually half full. I saw it half full then and I still do now and the secret is that I maintain a positive attitude.
We’re not the largest business in our industry, but we are a leader because we focus on what we’re great at: customer service and responsiveness. We know who we are and keep up a good attitude in order to go above and beyond. As a result, I have watched our business continue to grow and thrive in a competitive industry because we’re unique. Positivity is more contagious than you think, and it’s key for an entrepreneur to remain in good spirits no matter what. Say yes instead of no, embrace who you are, and have fun at work. If you do all of this, you’ll enjoy the day to day — and be ready to take on becoming an entrepreneur!