Why be an entrepreneur?

March 27, 2011 | By More

Are you sure you do not want to be a banker?

So, why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

If the answer is “to be rich” then this is perhaps one of the hardest way to do it. There may not even be money in it. On average, only one in seven manage to survive and make money.

Money is Everything!!

Instead, consider to be an investment banker or financial analyst, or a real estate broker or insurance agent. Good ones are known to make at least a million a year. You get a nice office, work regular hours, have power lunches, get invited to glamorous functions, have expense accounts and impress your friends with your title and fancy business card. Even good engineers working at MNCs are able to easily make over a eighty thousand a year.

However, if you are still passionate about using your skills and knowledge to help society in some way (e.g creating an innovative product or service that they will pay for), then being an entrepreneur is probably the most rewarding way. (read more about Qualities of an Entrepreneur)

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs you may have heard of, and many you haven’t, all started by following their passion through thick and thin. They are rewarded by society through the products that they develop and what they do to make the world a better place – customers buy them in droves. (read more about Designing what users want)

So what does it mean to be an entrepreneur? You probably read all about the characteristics of an entrepreneur and think: “That’s me!”

What they don’t really describe is what you have to do.

You'll be working late nights

You most likely have to spend many evenings alone to crystalise your idea. Writing it down will help. You probably need to find a few friends who are similarly committed to take this ‘entrepreneur’ path. There will probably be more ideas and opportunities than you are able to realistically pursue. The most difficult is choosing. Many start-ups fail because they are spread too thin – essentially they do not know how to filter what is most important.

Suppose you manage to focus on one. Then your first crunch comes early – how to raise funds to continue developing your idea, initially (read more about StreamMedia) and then larger funds when you have to develop prototypes. You’ll need a business plan for that – no one will invest without a plan that they can review in detail (read more about How to write a Business Plan).

The pressure comes when the new investors expect results and a committed schedule from you – customer testimonials, working prototypes, marketing plans, and of course, a revenue stream. All through that time, you will need to solve technical problems, maintain the schedule, find customers, recruit new people, make sure everyone is paid at the end of every month, CPF and insurance covered, pay electricity bills and rent, manage the cash flow, and so on and so on.

Selling your ideas and business plan to potential investors

This may take two, three, even four years. All the while your roommate who decided to join a bank is flying round the globe from one business conference to another tradeshow on expense account. Can you take that?

Without passion and belief in what you want to do, you will quickly get disillusioned after the n-th time you get rejected for funding, or promising opportunities that don’t pan out after a lot of hard work, or potential customers don’t react the way you think they should or a hundred other obstacles that come in your way. Or you may simply run out of money.

How you deal with all that will definitely make you a better person, whether you succeed or not. Your richness will result from knowing yourself, who you really are and what you can do to lead others.

If your product is what people want to use, your company will be rewarded with a strong revenue stream because people will pay for your product. That is success. Fame and fortune may follow. Not the other way round.

You will have learned and used your skills to help create products that users want. Maybe along the way, you may even have showed others how to do it.

Your banker roommate will have had it easy – but he may be wondering to himself why he didn’t think of your idea.

If you still want to take the entrepreneur path, then read about What’s Next?

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Category: Managing your business, Self Improvement, What's Next?

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About the Author ()

EngTong, pioneer and innovator. Graduated from Imperial College London with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management. Lived in Scotland, England, California, Beijing and led teams in Italy, France, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia to do the impossible. Now based in Singapore and believes the future is to blend the sophistication of western management practices with the strength of Asian Values. Trained as a Chartered Engineer. Member of IET, Associate of City and Guilds and a certified SixSigma Champion.

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