I write this month’s column reflecting on my experience as an entrepreneur for almost 30 years having started the Quest Group in 1984. Although I actually started my first business (a car wash) when I was 19, I would not consider that as a serious business. I have since gone into many different kinds of businesses, from publication to software development to franchising to retail to consulting, training and many different things. (When you are young you sometimes think you wear your underwear outside!) And in reflection, I realize that I must have started close to thirty over businesses during those twenty over years and the cold hard fact is actually, most of them failed. But I learned through my years of experiences; from failures as well as successes. More from failures than successes, actually.
I was often asked, what are the secrets of becoming a successful entrepreneur. I am not sure if there are really any universal secrets. However what I can share with you is not only what I have learned from these past years but the many successful businesses that I have consulted for. I have the fortunate experience of having worked with the varied number of organizations, from SMEs to MNCs. It is also from my business coaching that enabled me to have a deep understanding of what it takes to be successful in business. If I am required to turn a subject as complicated as entrepreneurship to a simple formula, my opinion is there are three ingredients that make a successful entrepreneur.
The first is to have what I call the entrepreneurial mindset. So what is the entrepreneur’s mindset to start with? The successful entrepreneur first and foremost must have a great hunger for success. This desire to be successful at almost any cost and in an uncompromising way is often seen to be extreme. He would be on a constant search to do better and has the persistency to strive for higher levels of achievement. He is willing to take risk and would believe that it is possible while all the rest around him tells him otherwise. The same obstinacy could give two different results and the road can lead to two paths here; one could lead no where when the choice made is wrong; wrong timing, wrong market, wrong business model. The other could lead to success beyond the mediocre. The key therefore is making the right choice. My friend, Michael Lim, the man behind the Diamond Water Filter, call it having the right opportunity. To have that right opportunity is to first, be able to see it and secondly to be able to grab it while others are still thinking about it.
The second area is your Network. My mentor Robert Kiyosaki said to me that my network is my net worth. You will realize that in a fast changing and fast moving world we are in today, there is very little possibility of any entrepreneur becoming successful, working all by himself. Networking becomes essential. Having a group of people that you can work with and constantly meeting new people from different fields, different levels and with different expertise is a very important part of entrepreneurship. Some business owners are so engrossed and hooked up with the internal issues of their own business; therefore lose sight of the market and the possibilities. To be out there in the market and to network will give you opportunities to acquire resources, ideas and people you can work with. All you need is one contact, one idea or one piece of knowledge at the right time and the right place, and that would make a difference between success and failure.
I took this even further by having mastermind groups; a powerful vehicle I teach to my Money Mastery community. Masterminding is well documented in the celebrated bestseller “ Think and grow rich“ by Napoleon Hill, as an important key to success. A mastermind group is a group of 5 to 9 persons that meet on a regular basis to support and help each other. The pre-requisite for successful masterminding is the willingness to give. If everyone in a group gives, then everyone will receive. However a mastermind group that is sustainable requires adoption of certain rules and possibly a change of attitude and behavior.
The third is what I call continuous learning. Even if you are a successful entrepreneur now, you will realize that success is not forever. What helps you to become successful up to this stage will not necessarily carry you to the future. It becomes very important for any entrepreneur to be willing to learn continuously. I will always tell people that continuous prosperity only comes from continuous learning. Anybody can start a business and most of you know by now; facts have shown that 60 to 70 percent of all new businesses will fail in the first five years. So the casualty rate is actually quite high and therefore is crucial to understand the difference between starting a business and taking it to a stable state and beyond that; growing it and finally how to preserve the success. This whole journey requires different way of thinking and different skill sets. Learning helps you go through the various phases of entrepreneurship.
Becoming an entrepreneur for most people is not something they are born with; it is a learning process. The experienced entrepreneur understands the need to stay ahead and the need to learn. And you can do this in two ways; learn by making your own mistakes as I have done over the years or you can shorten the learning curve by learning from the experience of others and from their mistakes instead. This would be learning from other entrepreneurs who are willing to advise you or better still, from someone who is willing to coach and mentor you. Having a mentor would be a great booster for an entrepreneur or a person aspiring to be one. This is especially if you want to avoid the many potential potholes in that road to entrepreneurial success.
So in my opinion the keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur start with having the right mindset, connecting with people and networking, having mentors and coaches and finally continuous learning. These ingredients I talk about are doable for anyone and you can start today, if becoming an entrepreneur is what you want.
KC See is the Founder of the well-known Money Mastery Mentorship programme. He just started the Entrepreneur Treasure Chest; a community of entrepreneurs. He can be found on Facebook or you can post in his group at [email protected]