The "self-made" entrepreneur is a glorious badge that many aspiring businessmen want to wear. The feeling is somewhat, "I have gone against all the odds, done something undoable and ultimately created something that separates me from many others."
The Bangladesh economy is enjoying one of the fastest growths at around 6.5 percent securing its position as the 35th largest economy in the world. This certainly paves the way for the country's youth to pursue independent careers.
"I have great potential in the field of events and digital marketing. I have tremendous passion for it. I want to be a self-made entrepreneur and achieve excellence in my business with my creativity and personal drive," said Saiful Islam, a business graduate from one of the private universities.
But, what does it take to be a self-made entrepreneur? People who succeed, it is not just the luck or randomness that helped them cultivate their fortune. Life is imperfect and fragile. One does not have control over the future outcome. Nevertheless, one must not let the past or the fear of future uncertainties interfere with the present action. An aspiring entrepreneur must be obsessed with making things happen.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to know many entrepreneurs across the country and learn what separates successful entrepreneurs from those who do not succeed. While it is hard to draw a conclusion because reality is complex and full of nuances, there are still noticeable indications if you pay close attention.
I have noticed several common traits in successful entrepreneurs. Here are 6 of them that can allow one a glimpse into the journey of successful entrepreneurs.
1. Find a purpose
Do not just go with the motions. Think over. Meditate on your ideas. Dig deep and find out what drives you to do a particular thing. After a great deal of soul-searching if you think of something really worth doing, then go for it. Building a business often comes with endless trials and tribulations. Unless you have a strong enough reason for pursuing entrepreneurship, it will only increase your sufferings. Many young people perceive entrepreneurship to be a glamorous endeavor; you come up with an idea, raise investment, make headlines, and then you live happily ever after.
Real world works differently. Life offers challenges. If you are not starting a business for the right reasons, your chance of survival and success is slim.
"Finding the right purpose is a prerequisite to be on the right path to the goal. Otherwise, entrepreneurs will spend their funds and energy unnecessary," says Hasibul Mustafa Arman, founder & managing director, Khaas Food.
2. Don't 'just do it'
Nike's slogan 'Just Do It' is merely a brand slogan. It cannot be the mantra for whatever you do in your life. Just like that business is about putting things in a process, a detailed methodology around the development of a product.
Before taking the decision to be an entrepreneur, it is important for individuals to evaluate certain things, such as personal attributes, ambition, passion and even the possibilities of uncertainties and challenges.
According to Investopedia, in 2019 the failure rate of small businesses was 90 percent. It also says 21.5 percent small businesses fail in the first year, 30 percent in the second year, 50 percent in the fifth year, and 70 percent in their 10th year. The reasons for their failure included running out of money, being in the wrong market, a lack of research, bad partnerships, ineffective marketing, and not being an expert in the industry.
It is imperative to be deliberate when you decide to set on the entrepreneurial journey.
Do you have the skills, money to invest, and the understanding of the market to start with? Do your own SWOT analysis and find the answers to the questions.
3. Be ready to 'make your hands dirty'
You will not become a self-made entrepreneur by sitting in your cubicle and dreaming of going big every day. You of course need to delegate responsibilities to run your business, but do not forget to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. The entire organisation will follow your lead. As a leader, you must bring 'can do' culture in your growing business entity.
"Startups begin when entrepreneurs are taking bold steps of addressing problems that are yet to be solved. Usually, their way of thinking or their approach is not fully understood or appreciated by most. This is why it becomes crucial to look into every detail, get your hands dirty and work against all odds to prove the point." says Adnan Imtiaz Halim, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sheba.xyz.
4. Say no to 10 things and perhaps yes to one!
Say no to the hundred other good ideas. Spend your energy and resources on your vital few bets and go big.
"Sometimes people think of prioritisation as the only thing that will have a positive impact on your business. But prioritisation means focusing only on the very best ideas. It means figuring out the 10 things on your list and, if you cannot do all of them, do the top two really well," says Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook.
5. Tell the story of your products
Once you have developed products, you must understand the significance of storytelling to engage your target customers in Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platforms. Be an active follower of some good brands, observe how they craft and tell the stories to millions.
"Money doesn't have any value in itself; it's just a story we invented that these little pieces of paper are worth a certain number of loaves of bread. As long as everybody believes in the story, it works," says Yuval Noah Harari, a great historian of our time.
Prito Reza, renowned photographer and founder of Prito Reza Photography, started his dream business from his university days by clicking photos for just Tk 20. Today, he is one of the most renowned photographers who have been telling and sharing stories of great photos through leveraging social media platforms. One needs to find the right platform and the right audience to connect with -- effectively.
6. Be a yardstick of excellence
Perhaps, you will develop and sell a handful of products. Set the quality bar extremely high.
"We don't get a chance to do that many things, and everyone should be really excellent. Because this is our life," said Steve Jobs, late co-founder & CEO of Apple.
Successful entrepreneurs need to build a culture of excellence by sharing uniform vision with team members, setting expectations and engaging with employees.
Jane Alam Romel, Group Chief Marketing Officer, IDLC Finance