How to become an entrepreneur
2018-12-07 | By Sally Squirrell
How does one become an entrepreneur? Is it something you do unwittingly, you wake up and say, “Good morning, today, I am going to become an entrepreneur! ” Or is it a mindset you can learn?
An entrepreneurial mindset
Picture a café. What do you see? Is if full of customers? Empty? Is there a varied menu, a minimal menu? What’s the interior like—overcrowded, sparse, welcoming? In everything that you see (or don’t see), there is an opportunity for you as an entrepreneur to develop a service, and/or a product to solve a problem in an innovative way and to create new value and new markets.
Born or made?
Are entrepreneurs born or made? The instinct, drive or the necessity to succeed certainly seems to come from a person’s upbringing or circumstances; the skills, however, can be learnt. What skills do you need to be an entrepreneur? There are many but here are my top four:
• Focus: Keeping a strong focus will help you achieve your goals, whether it be a single product or a multi-layered idea. Writing a value proposition statement will help you to focus.
• Help: You don’t need to be able do everything your-self (in the beginning it may help). Outsource certain skills when necessary. Find others to do what they do best, so you can do what you want, and can do, best. (Hint: fiverr.com )
• Network: Not only may you need to convince a bank manager to grant you a loan, or crowd- funders to invest in you, you also need to convince prospective buyers to buy from you and suppliers to work with you. Networking helps you to build the right support around you, to connect you to whom and what you need for your business.
• Creativity, daring, resilience: You will need every ounce of your creativity on this journey as challenges and unexpected delights are thrown at you. It won’t always be a smooth ride but taking risks is necessary—for within them lie opportunities. You, of course, can decide the level of risk to take.
Ways to leap in
You have a great idea or many ideas and you know they will work but are a little unsure about where to get started.
Gear up the mindset before you start. Opportunities abound, you just have to open your eyes to see them, or close them when following the steps in this book about entrepreneurship, Three Simple Steps. trevorgblake.com
2 What is it that you want to do?
In order to answer this question, start by thinking about your skills and passions. A useful resource to assist in this process is the work-book Career in Your Suitcase. careerinyoursuitcase.com
3 Why do you want to do what you want to do?
Fill in a business model canvas and a value proposition canvas. These one-page canvasses will help you to further hone your idea/s and focus in on key areas that will help you develop as an entrepreneur as well as to determine the value that you can offer and why.
4 How can you get started (in a new country)?
Some of the basic answers can be found on the ACCESS website. Recently, however, the Dutch government launched a very comprehensive website, including webinars, to help navigate these questions and provide guidance (see below).
For entrepreneurs in the Netherlands
ACCESS Answers for starting a business access-nl.org/dual-careers-netherlands/starting-a-business Government support
Comprehensive explanations for the Dutch context business.gov.nl
5 Develop the skills you’ll need
The Netherlands offers a wide variety of English language courses, programmes, and degrees to choose from. And, there are, of course, many on-line options that could fill the gap. A low-cost option and relatively quick course is avail- able at Coursera, giving you the skills to build a new business through practical assignments; make a product; get over the fear of promotion; getting out there and help you to look at your network to see who can already help you. coursera.org/specializations/ start-your-own-business
6 Try it
Get something out there and try it. Early customer feedback and market research are very important. But also be careful of naysayers; ask the people who will encourage you in your endeavour with constructive criticism and enthusiasm rather than telling you it won’t work straight away, or tell- ing you what you want to hear.
7 Creating prototypes and gathering funds
While undertaking point four, think about how to fund your business. Try to keep costs low. For exam- ple, don’t buy memberships you don’t need. Find places you can prototype if you’re making a product, such as FabLab in The Hague. fablabdenhaag.nl/fablab-den-haag/wat-is-een-fablab/index.php
Various bank loans and crowd-funding efforts can also get you going. Another avenue to explore: Funding Circle, a crowd-funding platform fundingcircle.com/nl/zakelijke-lening.
About the author
Sally Squirrell loves this subject and is very enthusiastic about sharing entrepreneurial tips, and helping people to design their architecture/renovation projects too. eekhoornandsquirrell.com