The Ten Commandments for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Business
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Creating an organization or small business is the dream of the majority of initiated individuals living in developed societies. There are a multitude of factors that will influence every venture’s “success” or “failure”. Throughout my entrepreneurial and professional career, I’ve witnessed and been part of organizations that have succeeded and that have failed. Real world & academic experience has enabled me to draft a list of the” 10 Commandments for Aspiring Entrepreneurs”. Unfortunately, your idea is at the mercy of the economic and social forces beyond your control. The survival rate for most small businesses after six years is only about 40%, so the odds are against you.

The success rates for many ideas are attributable to “right place at the right time” factors. An amazing idea at the wrong time (no demand) has a low success rate. A mediocre idea at the right time (high demand) has a high success rate. Below are the “10 Commandments for Aspiring Entrepreneurs”. Breaking any of these commandments is almost certain to shake the foundations of your dreams and send your organization spiraling into an entrepreneurial Inferno.

 

1. Thou Shalt Believe in Thyself

Regardless of how awesome or mediocre your idea may be, you must be confident. You will have supporters, you will have critics. You will have constructive feedback, you will have useless feedback. Trust in your instincts and surround yourself with positive influences. Your idea is like a newborn baby and it must be protected and nurtured in this jungle of ideas. Realize that there is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence will power you through hard times and sleepless nights. Arrogance will betray you and warp the reality of your situation.

2. Thou Shalt Draft a Comprehensive Business Plan

Drafting a highly structured organizational/business plan is critical for all Entrepreneurs. Your plan doesn’t need to be extremely dense and conventional to be successful. However, you do need to be able to explain specifics regarding your idea/product. What need does it fulfill? What is your target market/demographic? What are the Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats regarding this idea? How much money will it cost to get it off the ground? How much money will it make in the short-term/long term? What is your long term strategic plan? Where is the math (financial calc/market summary) that supports everything that you are hoping and dreaming about? A strong plan displays your level of dedication, organization and vision to potential business partners and investors.

3. Thou Shalt Know Thy Limits

There will be sleepless nights, frustration and headaches. Things will not go exactly as planned and because of this, you will be pushed to your mental and physical breaking points. It is important that you understand your personal limits and realize that ultimately your health is more important than an idea that may begin to affect you like a virus. Many people make the mistake of becoming completely consumed by an idea and begin to ignore their basic human needs.

4. Thou Shalt Surround Thyself with Like-Minded Individuals

Dynamic, hard working, trust worthy and skilled. They need to be all of the above. People in small organizations need to be comfortable wearing different hats. These people need to be hard workers or you will be picking up the slack for them. There needs to be trust amongst associates. They should bring a strong set of skills to the table, skills that you may be lacking. These people are your safety net; they are also responsible for your baby’s well-being. Choose them wisely.

5. Thou Shalt Exercise Prudence with Finances

Budgeting and forecasting expenditures is absolutely essential. Most people are amazed at how quickly they can chew through $100K because of unknown variables. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. A financial mistake can have a lasting effect on your organization, hindering its ability to fully recover in the long run. Have alternate financing options available to you in case of a rainy day. Don’t wait until you are desperate to seek alternatives.

6. Thou Shalt Protect Intellectual Property

If you have a catchy word, name, or symbol (Nike logo) – Trademark it. If you have a new invention – Patent it (lasts 20 years). If you are an author of an original piece of work (literary/musical) – Copyright it. Great ideas are neither patentable, nor copyrightable. You need to have anyone involved in your idea sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Beware of intellectual property trolls who are vigorously trying to steal your idea in order to profit from it. If someone steals your idea/logo from you and trademarks/patents it, ownership belongs to them legally. Take the additional steps to protect your idea before you become fully emotionally and/or financially vested in it.

7. Thou Shalt Beware “The Ides of March”

Trust your associates and business partners, but get everything in writing. People tend to honor their obligations more religiously if they know that they can be legally held to their signature on a document. After all, people aren’t perfect and you will always be surprised in the world of business ventures. Another reason to get everything in writing is because it will help organizing task lists and remembering important promises that you may have made. After all, you aren’t perfect either 🙂 .

8. Thou Shalt Be Optimistic

The glass is half full. The glass is a quarter full. The glass is a tenth full. Do you understand what I’m saying? Always focus on the positive aspects of your ideas development. Energy is very real and if you let yourself get poisoned by negative energy, your thought process and demeanor will change. Exercise to control your stress levels and don’t restrict yourself from your leisurely activities (you will have to limit them). If youre body/mind is healthy, you will be infinitely more productive and your idea will benefit from this added productivity.

9. Thou Shalt Network

Networking is extremely important, be it through a social network or in person. You never know who might know someone, who might know someone, who might be able to get you past a hump in your ideas development. The stronger your network is, the more options you’ll have. If you need to fill a void in your team or perhaps find some unconventional financing, your network will be the best resource.

10. Thou Shalt Not Fear the Unknown

Fear leads to anxiety, anxiety leads to irrational decision making. Think outside-the-box and eventually you will find a solution to any problem. Fear is a natural human emotion and takes experience to master. Unfortunately, your business can’t afford any bad decisions. The more that you become comfortable exploring different horizons that are outside of your comfort zone, the more skilled and dynamic you will become. The more skilled and dynamic you are, the less you have to fear.

 

 

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Helpful links for starting a business:

http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business

http://www.legalzoom.com/

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/3-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan-1.aspx

http://www.wikihow.com/Think-‘Outside-of-the-Box’

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