Whilst the dictionary definition is “a person who sets up a business taking on financial risks in the hope of profit” – the rest of us see an entrepreneur as someone who is dynamic, positive, successful, inspirational and a leader in their chosen field.
Think of Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling, Karren Brady and Deborah Meaden as great examples.
If a regular 9 – 5 job doesn’t appeal to you and maybe you have an idea of how to make a living (and more) by doing something unique then read our top tips...
1 Use your time at university wisely
Get as much work experience as you can while you’re at university – whatever the jobs are, you will learn things; about people and how they interact; businesses and how they work – how they treat staff and customers. Every interaction that you have with another person will develop your personal awareness of what is good or bad and you will learn the most effective ways to get the best from people: an essential strength if you are going to be running a successful business.
Look out for grants and financial assistance while you’re studying. There are an increasing number of entrepreneurs creating their own businesses as they leave university and the universities are keen to help students.
Find a mentor – someone to advise and guide you. It could be a university lecturer on a different course to you but you will be in a place surrounded by expertise – use it.
2 Do something you care about
It goes without saying that if you really care about something then you’ll work harder, if you’re passionate about your chosen field then you’ll happily put in all the extra hours to make it work. Understand yourself – are you resilient and willing to take risks? Can you cope with the knocks as well as the successes? Can you create something from nothing – creative ideas and plans of how to make something work? And can you listen and take constructive feedback and advice from others; you’ll need to be able to trust other people and learn from them.
None of the ‘overnight’ success stories really happened overnight, there will have been months if not years of hard work behind the scenes in order to get to ‘that’ moment. Pay yourself a minimum amount while you’re building your business and invest all that you can into it as you build it during the early years. If you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, you won’t work hard enough.
3 Plan – have a clear vision
You need to know exactly where you want to be, and work out a step by step route to get there – the people, investment and resources you need. Entrepreneurism takes leadership and decision making, but don’t make rash decisions. There will be times when you need to make a spur of the moment decision, but to a certain degree, it needs to be calculated and you need to be prepared for a number of different choices, options and outcomes – if you have prepared yourself for these moments then you are less likely to make a costly mistake.
4 Surround yourself by like minded people
The key here is to find people who have achieved what you’re planning to – use their advice and experience to help you get there faster. Network, build relationships and offer to help people along the way – they’ll be more inclined to help you if you’re a giver rather than just taking. Get experience while you’re at university – attend any extra seminars on offer about building your own business and soak up all the advice that you can to help you formulate your plan. When you need to approach investors or a bank, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re dedicated and hardworking.
Join the university Entrepreneur society – they’ll have links to businesses and often run competitions to encourage product development and new innovations, inventions and ideas which can be sponsored by local businesses – giving you useful links into the industry as well as recognition and sometimes financial awards.
The other students you mix with will have expertise and experience in different areas. Building relationships now will open all kinds of doors later on – you may need a specialist accountant for example.
5 Be prepared for a bumpy ride
There will be obstacles on your journey. Perseverance, motivation and your commitment will be key to your success. Don’t give up – use each obstacle as a learning opportunity. Listen. Use any feedback about why it didn’t work and learn from it – change your approach next time to avoid making the same mistake. Set yourself challenges and face your fears – the sense of achievement when you have overcome them will spur you on further to reach your goal.
Read the autobiographies of successful entrepreneurs – (Alan Sugar, James Dyson etc) they always talk about how hard they have worked, and the knocks and disappointments they encountered along the way. JK Rowling is renowned for the number of rejection letters she received regarding the Harry Potter series – but she never gave up. They all have perseverance and resilience in common. They all have a single minded belief and focus that they could succeed. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur you will need that dedication and confidence too. Follow people you admire on social media for inspiration and advice – use every day and every opportunity that you can to help you move towards your goal.
Celebrate all your successes – whatever their size and remember that it takes time, hard work and an element of luck to succeed. By graduating, planning and committing to your goal, you are already on the road to success!
Good luck from the mybrink team!