Who is an entrepreneur and what does it mean to be an entrepreneur – are the first questions I will answer:
An entrepreneur is any working individual who takes matters into their own hands to achieve their goals and deal with everything that traps them, (pro)actively improving their business life, everyday life, and the environment.
You can be a doctor, a librarian, a journalist, a manager, a bank clerk, a teacher, and a true entrepreneur at the same time. You can be an entrepreneur in legal terms (def. Corporate Law: An entrepreneur is an individual doing business with the aim of achieving profit and may perform all activities stipulated by the law for which he/she meets the requirements, including traditional and art crafts and handicraft) who do nothing or not enough to improve his/her business life, everyday life or the environment. In my opinion, then you are only self-employed, not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is a sacred vocation! Being an entrepreneur is a title, an honor, and a privilege.
Being an entrepreneur is a matter of attitude and commitment, not occupation. The most successful are those entrepreneurs with an entrepreneurial attitude – whether engaged in private or public business. When we lack action, activity, proactivity, and constructive activity of all kinds – we lack an entrepreneurial spirit. We are deceived into believing that taking matters into our own hands is “reserved” for entrepreneurs and self-employed. In all spheres of our society, we need more entrepreneurs – people who take action instead of just waiting and taking. However, whether we are entrepreneurs by legal definition or attitude, we all fall into traps and make mistakes that take away our time but also hinder results. Here are the three most common mistakes I have noticed in my career so far.
Note: so far I have advised, mentored, and trained literally over 1000 men and women entrepreneurs operating in various fields and from various countries. After 10 years of working with them, and being an entrepreneur myself – I draw my conclusions with considerable self-confidence. So let’s begin…
Mistake no. 1 ?? It is enough to have a good product/service to do well
This is not only a mistake but also an exception to the rule. We solve problems we ourselves usually “suffer” from by private business (especially start-ups). We solve these problems by viewing things from our own angle, from our own perspective, based on the standards we ourselves (therefore, also our environment, growing up and the role models we had) have set. As we generally think quite badly (prejudices, misconceptions, subconscious behavior patterns), what we come up with – is often came up with badly.
We are of course not aware of this, so we push forward, create, invest time and money and it is all the more difficult for us to notice that perhaps the road itself or even the product/service is not good; that perhaps the product/service is good, but sales channel, promotion style, distribution method, price or consumption process of our product/service we have devised are not good. And then, even though we believe that we only need to go “public” to make our great product embraced by everyone, as it is great (for us) and solves problems (to us) – there comes a lull, nothing happens, and a dark cloud of fear and disappointment it starts to make our hair curl.
Remedy for a mistake no. 1:
- When you design a product/service, describe it in one sentence. Then make a list of so-called Frequently Asked Questions on a piece of paper – questions you believe various people might ask. Answer each of them in no more than 2 sentences.
- Then make a list of people you will survey about the product (people of different age, sex, occupation, from different cities, who are more or less close to you – even though your product is not for everyone, a good input can often come from those who are indifferent, even uninterested). The list must include at least 30, and preferably up to 100 people! The more you intend to invest (time or money), the more different people should give you feedback on your idea.
- Make a questionnaire for your survey (about the solution, problem, distribution, price, effects, post-sale use support you came up with; about how the respondents think the need for your product/service has been solved so far, what was good, and what was bad about it)
- Schedule live surveys either online or by phone with people on the list.
- During the survey, write/record everything people say! Ask questions, sub-questions, ask for opinions, insights, and advice. Ask to hear, not to talk. Ask to learn, not to defend your position and decision. Ask to become better, not to look smart.
Now, take a few days to take stock, sort out your notes, and draw conclusions about what is really great about your product/service, what could and what needs to change. Now you already have enough insight to make a good product that will be well received. But still, the work is far from over.
Note ?? Great directors, bosses, owners and managers also make this mistake. They come up with product improvements, new credits, juices or menus by the same logic as beginners. And before they know it, they are skating on thin ice. This mistake is common at all levels and there are no “immune” ones. Immunization is acquired by being aware that we can always make this mistake, and that we go through these (or similar) preventive steps I share, no matter how much we ruled in our business (so far).
Mistake no. 2 ?? I can do it myself
Another common mistake is believing that we can do it on our own, but also the mirror mistake that we cannot do it on our own. The truth is somewhere in between. Once we have defined and perfected our product/service based on the above point, we conclude what we need to do to go through with it. This is how we know what we should and can do and what we cannot. We will understand what we cannot do and then we should think – why we cannot do it. When we map what we cannot do (on our own), we need to answer the following questions:
- Do I lack knowledge – and how, where and when I can acquire it
- Do I lack experience – who and under what conditions can guide me and help me gain it
- Do I lack money – how much exactly, in which phases, what are (all) financing options
We will often lack promotion, support, initial ambassadors and brand promoters, people or means (tools, machines, technology); we may have it almost all, but time is not in our favor (social, political, season, or general trends). Believe it or not, all of these listed imperfections actually fall under one of the above three “flaws”. If you know how to launch a product – you will have an adequate initial promotion and get the right ambassadors. If you lack money, knowledge of how much, when, and why, from whom, and under what conditions will solve the third flaw. If you do not have experience, knowledge of what you want to do and why in this way will lead you to people with experience, and knowledge of how to approach them and what conditions to offer them will allow you to get them as your mentors, advisors or co-owners in early-stage and even pro bono.
So it becomes clear that both you can do it yourself and you cannot do it yourself ideas are equally incorrect. You only need to do what no one else can do for you and KNOW how to quickly gain the knowledge, experience, and money that are the three most common elements missing for success.
Mistake no. 3 ?? There is enough time for
Here it is, the time trap! The ominous clock that always ticks either too fast or too slow. Thumping in your ears and weighing on you. If you say to yourself “There is time” or if you say to yourself “There is no time!” – in both cases you are wrong. The right time is the one you choose. Of course, provided you have not made the above two mistakes. If you have successfully overcome these two mistakes now:
- You know what your product is and why it is good
- You know how to market it and for whom it is intended
- You know what you know and what you don’t know, and you need to succeed
- That’s how you know if it is “the right time”, why it is not, and if it is – until when. Without pressure, you simply know because you have knowledge of what you do, not mere assumptions
- You know where to find what you don’t know
- You know what resources you need and how you can get them
Some other common mistakes entrepreneurs make are lack of vision (thinking about how an entrepreneurial business can be scaled, i.e. expand to other markets or niches), over detailing, hesitation in making decisions, misunderstanding the whole business process (sales, promotion, customer & employee relations, procurement, and distribution), too much self-confidence or lack of self-confidence, immoderate secrecy or loud promotion before the product/service and the sales process is optimally ready for the public, and mispricing.
However, the most common “additional” mistake is not considering the post-sales process of the product/service. According to my research, only 1 in 100 entrepreneurs knows what to do after selling a service or product. This means that only 1% of entrepreneurs think about how a customer can use his product after buying it as soon as possible in the best way; how he can sell the customer an additional product, how he can make the customer a promoter or brand ambassador, and how to ensure medium and long term customer retention.
As it is rather a challenge to reach each individual customer/user, the entrepreneur’s job from the first day must be how to retain the customer, how to deepen the relation, increase trust and sales from each previous customer. My statistics say that it is three times harder to reach a new customer than to sell an additional product/service to an old customer. Still, we usually remain focused on getting new customers.
I worked in a bank for years. When budgeting for next year, I once proposed an experimental project which would imply that instead of investing millions in attracting new users, we invest those funds in establishing, maintaining, and improving relationships with existing millions of users. These were people who have been using our services for years, who use several of our services, whose data we have, and whose habits we know well. Making them the focus of our attention would lead to new sales, but would also turn many of them into strong advocates for the ideas and quality of our services. The idea was not accepted. Fortunately, some of my clients have accepted it and confirmed my estimates over and over again in the sphere of increasing sales and customer satisfaction.
Knowledge is your weapon in the fight against subjective beliefs, in the fight against lack of experience or money, in the fight against impatience or procrastination. As much as you know that you have covered it all and that you feel safe – do be aware that you can know more, that you have to learn, follow and refresh your idea (product or service) on a regular basis so that you can always do the right things in the right way.
If I was to single out only one element of success, it would be knowledge. Knowledge answers everything.
When you think you know everything – you will make a product just for yourself and enjoy its charms in the isolation of your home, blaming everyone else for not seeing its magnificence. If you think you know nothing – talk to people to find out that is not true either. Your task is to know at all times what you need and how to get that knowledge to achieve your goals. This way you will take action, you will become a wise fighter for your dreams and an entrepreneur. This is how society changes, company by company, person by person.
Entrepreneurial salute <3
✻ What do you think, could you better design or market your product? Do you think you could do it faster? You can book a lecture, workshop, or a combination of both on the topic of this text for yourself, your company, or an event you can organize via the following link. The text is an excerpt from the group of my products “Doing business”. You can learn how to create a successful product, launch it successfully, get the results faster. Over a thousand people and hundreds of companies I have worked with so far confirm that there are ways. Of course, only if you think you should. Think about it.