The American Dream is the classic tale of rags to riches. From new generations of immigrants, to the many who feel they are condemned to forever work a dead end job in corporate America, scores of people seek the American Dream. They become entrepreneurs, self-sufficient men and women building themselves up from nothing to the heights of success. Yet, the game of becoming an entrepreneur often seems too lofty a goal, high and unobtainable for the average person.
How then can you achieve your goals? What is the secret to becoming a successful entrepreneur? Tim Knox, small business expert, entrepreneur, syndicated newspaper columnist, radio talk-show host, television commentator, and author says that there is no secret. “You’ve got to find out what you want…then you have to take action,” Knox advises.
Being an entrepreneur is not a path for everyone. Before proceeding, you must first and foremost decide if this is the course of action you truly desire. Knox, who comes from a poor rural Alabama family, feels that the first step on the road to success is an honest and introspective self-assessment. “You’ve got to sit down, have a heart to heart with yourself and ask yourself hard questions like, ‘Am I willing to put everything I have at risk to make this business work?'” shares Knox.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur is more than opening a corner shop and selling a product. Potential entrepreneurs may find themselves exiting their comfort zone. Can you handle customers? Are you comfortable managing people, and marketing your business?
Knox warns not to judge your own ability by the successes of others. “Don’t look at people you know who are in business and say well it can’t be that hard, because they’re doing it,” Knox cautions, “That’s not a good gauge of whether or not you can actually do it.”
To succeed, you must build a credible reputation in whatever field you decide to enter. Name recognition is critical. Make yourself a brand name; the goal is to associate your name less with a person and more with the products and ideals of your business. “It’s all about building the brand and building your credibility,” says Knox.
To accomplish this, start small by writing and submitting articles for publication. Submit articles to local newspapers and online. Even if they are only letters to the editor or opinion-editorial pieces, by placing your name into the field, you are building credibility and name recognition.
Knox, who started his own successful career with these humble beginnings, says that persistence is key. “If you’re trying to get credibility in anything start writing articles. Go to your local paper offer to write a column,” Knox advises, “The worst that can happen is they say no.”
So the next question naturally is, what are you an expert in? Knox shares the story of a nurse who felt she had no expertise. While talking with her, Knox learned she possessed the ability to keep children behaved while traveling. That was her expertise; something she had never considered or felt was special. “She has become an expert on traveling with kids. She gets media requests all the time and that sort of thing,” recalls Knox, “Think about things you can do.”
“Get creative,” says Knox. Creativity is pivotal to an entrepreneur. Think about the things you can do and what you know. Is there a product or service you can improve on? Do you know something that others find remarkable or uncommon? Work with these things, publish them, speak on them, and make them your expertise.
The worst thing you can do is nothing, and the best time to start is now. Knox warns that opportunity will not come to you, “Opportunity doesn’t knock. Opportunity doesn’t even know where you live. It’s not delivered like pizza; you’re not going to hear a knock at the door, and there stands a box full of hot opportunity for you.”
Ask yourself if you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. If you feel that it is right for you, start now; do not wait for opportunities that may never come. Determine what you can do, and make yourself an expert in the field. Start small by publishing articles online and in local newspapers, and get your name out there to build credibility. By doing these things, you are on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur and claiming the American Dream.
Most people assume that the only real reasons people sell a business are because of retirement or illness. While those certainly are important factors, the single reason that most entrepreneurs say they’re selling is because they run out of energy. They no longer have the spark it takes to drive them in the right direction; the thrill is gone. A business cannot be stagnant – either it grows or it dies, and it takes energy to grow.
Buyers often think retirement and illness are the only legitimate reasons businesses go on the market. We have a saying in our firm: “Sure, the owner is selling for health reasons – he’s sick of the business.”
The fact is that even though a business can be very profitable and a great ongoing operation, the owner can become bored and seek another challenge.
We once had a client interested in selling his business. He was only 39 years old and making $ 1.5 million profit each year – yet he couldn’t wait to get rid of the business.
Several potential buyers expressed skepticism about his reason for selling. They thought there must be some underlying problems that he didn’t want to reveal. “Why doesn’t he just hire some MBA who is making $ 100,000 a year and pay him $ 200,000 a year and then go lie on some beach somewhere and make $ 1.3 million profit to do nothing,” one buyer suggested.
We posed that question to the client, and he replied just like every other successful entrepreneur would answer it: “after a few weeks on the beach, I would be bored stiff.” He went on to explain: “It’s still my money and my reputation on the line, so I would be calling the guy I hired and checking on him a couple times a day. And I want to start something else, have another challenge. I do not need the headache of checking on someone else. I just want to focus on my new venture.”
Another Benjamin Ross Group client, who was 32 years old, started a very successful business when she was 20, but after 12 years became bored. With no real challenges to face, she had trouble getting motivated each day. She was worried that if she did not sell when she was young, she would be doing the same thing her entire life, and she desperately wanted variety.
The problem was that this woman was making about $ 250,000 a year and had been doing that for some time; the business had produced a very nice lifestyle for her. Her friends and family could not understand why she would want to give up such a good thing.
The client explained that she needed a new challenge, something that would get her entrepreneurial juices flowing again. She needed a new goal. Surprisingly, money is not a long-term motivating factor to most entrepreneurs. It’s just a way to keep score.
It’s the same reason why people change jobs: the prospect of a new challenge, of a better opportunity, of a brighter future. In that respect, most business owners are not that much different from their employees – perhaps just a bit more impatient.
If you are thinking about selling your business, please contact the Benjamin Ross Group to speak with an advisor who can help you start the process.