Employer Insight: Five keys to entrepreneurial success

By:  Blake McCammon 

Blake McCammon is the COO of ProtoHack, the only code-free hackathon. ProtoHack exists to show non-coders that they too can create something amazing from nothing. ProtoHack aims to empower the non-technical entrepreneur with the tools, knowledge and community to help you bring your idea to life and communicate it visually through prototyping.

Forming your first startup is not a task for the faint at heart. You think you have every piece of information and every problem solved, but once you decide to make the jump into entrepreneurship and things go awry, your true drive and ambition will either shine or fade into the background. The decision to step into entrepreneurship should be well calculated. According to The U.S. Small Business Administration, approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month, with a third of those failing in the first two years and 60% finding they’re doomed by their fourth year in business.

Being an entrepreneur has high risks and high rewards. Stepping out into the world of entrepreneurship is something that can be extremely daunting and risky, so understanding how to be successful is imperative. Whether you’re a founder or co-founder, these five keys to entrepreneurial success will help you launch and grow your new venture. 

Mistakes happen, embrace them.
Almost every entrepreneur has had their fair share of mistakes when it comes to being at the helm of a company. Whether they drop clients because they’re frustrating, only to later regret it, or try to perfect the process early on within their own organization when they should be focusing on the bigger picture, it’s nearly impossible to get it right every single time. What’s important is that you’re able to learn from mistakes and use them to your advantage when you can. When you embrace missteps, you put yourself in the position to be able to grow and move forward.

Work with those who will challenge you.
This is one of the most important mantras an entrepreneur should have, not only in business but also in their personal lives. When you first start your own company, it’s important to surround yourself with people who really push and drive you to step up your game. If you work with those who don’t, it’ll eventually rub off on you. Working with people who are equally as passionate and driven as you will do nothing but set you up for success.

When choosing business partners and mentors, don’t just pick your best friend, pick someone who is going to push you, challenge you, and make you a better entrepreneur. With a partner like that, you’re less likely to lose the drive and ambition you started with.

Be smart about where you invest.
If you gained experience in the corporate world before you took the entrepreneurial leap, you know what it’s like to have access to tools and budgets that you don’t necessarily have when it comes to starting your own company. It can be a big culture shock when you can no longer afford the pricey but effective software programs or outrageous advertising budget you became accustomed to. Instead, you’ll have to get creative, such as using free or budget-friendly software before you’re at a point where you can start scaling your business. Find the tools you simply cannot live without and prioritize them. Invest when you’re financially ready and not a moment sooner.

Get out of your comfort zone and network
Getting out of your comfort zone is one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur. In fact, when starting your first business, referrals will go a long way. Networking is one of the most important aspects of an entrepreneurship because the connections you make will determine the strength of your network and ultimately could determine the success of your company. Going to events where the only goal in mind is to be pushing cards, shaking hands and making meaningful contacts is now part of your job. Understanding the value behind networking and doing a good job of it will take you far. Think about possible connections you have that need to be fostered and use them to your advantage.

Have fun, find what you’re passionate about, and don’t settle!
We’ve probably all seen others who settle because they’re not brave enough to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship. We say they’re playing it safe but really what’s happening is that they are denying their own happiness and giving up the opportunity to have fun and live their passion. In short, they’re settling.

The amount of fun you have following your passion will be a determining factor in how much you excel at your new venture. Suddenly, working sixty to eighty hours a week isn’t so difficult when you’re doing it while exploring your passion.

Steve Jobs said it best during a conversation with Pixar CEO John Lassete: “In your life you only get to do so many things and right now we’ve chosen to do this, so let’s make it great.”

Settling isn’t something that should even be in your vocabulary as an entrepreneur. We only get one life, so use it, follow your passion and whatever your passion is, go for it.

Learn more about ProtoHack by visiting their website, then sign up for their free event coming to New York City on November 15. 

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