How to Become a (Successful) Entrepreneur

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How to become an entrepreneur? Well, easy. Just open a travel blog, or start selling lemonade in your backyard.

The real question is of course, how can one become a successful entrepreneur?

Learning how to become a successful entrepreneur is a little bit like learning how to become good at a sport.

You can get a couch to give you some magic bullets and guidelines, but at the end, you're going to have to do the heavy lifting and hard work yourself.

In an attempt to summarize the most important aspects of succeeding as an entrepreneur, I've created this step by step guide on how to become an entrepreneur.

This guide is in no means the full complete guide on entrepreneurship, but hopefully it will get you started and start taking action.

Things to know about becoming an entrepreneur

What is an entrepreneur?

Before we jump into how to actually become an entrepreneur, lets just very quickly declare what an entrepreneur is – for the sake of this discussion.

I like the Oxford definition of what an entrepreneur is:

a person who sets up a business, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”

The only thing to add here is that today we don't really need to take that much of a financial risk.

There's many businesses you can start that barely requires any investment. Be up and running for less than โ‚ฌ100. Also, you can raise money from an investor.

So, in other words, an entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business in the hope of profit.

What's the average salaries for entrepreneurs?

CountryMonthly Salary
Germany$6583

Do you need a degree to become an entrepreneur?

The short answer is no. You don't need a diploma to become an entrepreneur.

In fact, I personally wouldn't recommend anyone to go to school to become an entrepreneur, unless it's a very specialized education that is inline with what you want to focus on.

However, you do need to be learning. Being an entrepreneur, you need to know a broad spectrum of topics related to running a business.

You don't need to a jack of all trades, but you need the basics in accounting, marketing, technicals etc.

9 steps to become an entrepreneur

I'm going to guide you through each step of becoming an entrepreneur.

Have in mind that every entrepreneurial journey looks a bit different, and there's no right and wrong place to start.

Here's a general outlay that I think will help you to get started.

Step 1 – Figure out if you really want to be an entrepreneur

Are you sure you want to be an entrepreneur?

It may seem like this question has an obvious answer, but think again.

Being an entrepreneur is not better or worse than being an employee. It's just different.

There is certainly the potential to make a lot more money than being employed, but most entrepreneurs don't end up on the higher end of that spectrum, and really makes a pretty standard salary.

That being said, if you're cut out to be an entrepreneur, you can and should really not work as an employee.

1.1 – The misconception about “The Entrepreneur Lifestyle”

Too many people are dreaming about the entrepreneur lifestyle, imagining themselves working a few hours per day, then sipping coconuts on the beach the rest.

It just doesn't go down like that.

Sure, you might get there one day (but even then, you'd be bored out of your mind – if you're a true entrepreneur), but the road there is often very long.

And what dictates whether or not you should become an entrepreneur, is whether or not you're willing to take that long road.

If you love challenges, responsibility, and don't mind pain and hustle, chances are good that entrepreneurship is for you.

However, if you shake and fret only by the thought of working 14 hour days, without seeing results, for, yes.. potentially years.

Then you're going down the wrong path.

Entrepreneurship is for people who don't mind that struggle.

1.2 – Are you cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Before continuing this guide, make sure you check this list.

    You're an entrepreneur if you're a person who

  1. Thrives with performance based salary.
    Being an entrepreneur, you get paid by performance. If you can't produce value enough, you won't get paid. Income can be very unstable at times.
  2. Love innovation and creative work.
    Being able to solve complex problems is why you essentially get paid. To do that, you need to use your creativity a lot, and always be innovative. Good news is that most people have this faculty – they just haven't discovered how to use it.
  3. Have higher energy than most people.
    This is not a game for the weak who values comfortability over progress. Entrepreneurship can at times require tremendous energy. If your ship is sinking, you're gonna need to put out maximal effort to stay afloat.
  4. Prefers more freedom over more money.
    Many entrepreneurs ends up making ridiculous amounts of money. But it wasn't their goal – at least not their primary one. Most people who started their own ventures did so because of freedom, and lacking it wasn't an option.
  5. Have great resiliency and patience.
    It's very likely that you might be working hard for a long period of time without seeing any results. Succeeding as an entrepreneur requires a high level of resiliency and patience.
  6. Enjoys building things.
    Entrepreneurs are artists and architects. They are all about finding better ways to do things and don't mind carrying stone after stone all day long just for the sake of building something.
  7. Most importantly: being action oriented.
    The thing that really separates entrepreneurs from A-level students and top performing employees, is not their skillsets, but their ability to actually get stuff done. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be a person that makes things happen, no matter what excuses you can find.

Step 2 – Choose a niche & market

Finding a market and picking your niche is usually where people get stuck, and the reason people who should be entrepreneurs, never become one.

Don't be one of those people.

Let me try to help you get a clearer perspective on this whole thing.

2.1 – How to find a business idea?

Let me first say: forget everything you learnt about business ideas.

This will be a bit long-winded – because this is a framework that needs to be understood if you want to really understand how to find a good business idea.

You have with 99% certainty been given a false picture of how good business ideas comes about.

The picture I'm referring to is where you and your buddies are casually enjoying a beer and gets this lightbulb moment where a magical idea just appears – then you go home and open the business and make millions a few months later.

Almost never does this happen.

It doesn't really happen by sitting at home brainstorming with pen and paper either.

2.2 – Find your idea by action

Good ideas are born when you stop thinking and start doing

Ideas comes from action and engagement – at least the good ones.

Not many of the top 500 companies in the world today are still operating on the exact same business idea as when the company started.

One thing leads to something, then leads to something else, and develops throughout the years.

Many times the idea gets changed so much that it doesn't even resemble the original idea.

You don't need a crazy idea to get started.

You are way more likely to succeed if you learn to take action first, engage with your market, contemplate and then start perfecting your idea.

2.3 – Choosing a niche where you can make a difference

One of the major factors to whether or not you're going to become a successful entrepreneur is your ability to select the niche where you can make a difference.

Forget the billion dollar business ideas. This is not where you need to put your focus.

What should be your focus: figuring out where you can provide value to people.

As Elon Musk says:

“You get paid in direct proportion to the difficulty of problems that you solve.”

Start simple and ask yourself what you are really good at. Alternatively, you can choose something that you have a very strong passion for, and that you would like to become really good at.

2.4 – Things to have in mind when deciding

Here's 4 keys to picking a niche.

    Keys to picking the right niche (for you)

  1. You will enjoy working in this field
    You don't need to love every minute of it, but you need to have a general passion for the topic you're dealing with. This will come across in everything you do. The biggest failure is to become successful at something you don't like.
  2. You have expertise or an edge
    It has to be a niche where you can utilize your strengths. Either natural talent or a field that you started learning very early about. It doesn't mean you have to be the best of the best, but you can't build on weaknesses.
  3. You have an idea to provide value
    Problems exists in every niche, and it's your job as an entrepreneur to pick one and figure out a way to solve it. We'll talk about this more in-depth shortly.
  4. People need to be willing to spend money
    Do some research (usually you can just go with common sense) to get an understanding if people spend money here. The good news is that most niches can be monetized in one way or the other.

Step 3 – Figure out how to solve problems & provide value

More importantly than picking the right niche, is to being able to bring value to your niche.

Now, don't get discouraged by thinking you have to solve world hunger or something like that.

All you need is USP.

Unique selling proposition.

Basically, figuring out how you're gonna provide value to your customers.

3.1 – How to provide value

You can look at this like this.

  • You need to solve a problem.
  • The harder the problem you solve, the more value you'll provide.
  • The more value you provide, the more money you will make.
  • The more money you'll make, the harder problems you can solve.

So it all begins by spotting out an easy problem that you are capable to solve right now, and then work your way up.

The more advanced entrepreneur you become, the more difficult problems you solve.

3.2 – What solving a problem means

Solving a problem can actually be quite simple. You don't always literally have to fix something.

Solving a problem can also mean:

  • save people time or money
  • give entertainment value
  • connect people
  • inspire people to grow

The hard part is to identify a problem.

That's why it's completely essential that you know your industry inside and out, so that you're able to simulate the demand of a real customers – and thus understanding what problems they are experiencing.

3.3 – Adding value to your customers

Here's a list of how you can help your customers.

    Ideas on how bring value

  1. Save time
    People love to save time. Not only because they are lazy, but because people value their time the most. If you build a taxi app where the average waiting times is 3 minutes instead of 7 minutes, people will love your business.
  2. You have expertise or an edge
    It has to be a niche where you can utilize your strengths. Either natural talent or a field that you started learning very early about. It doesn't mean you have to be the best of the best, but you can't build on weaknesses.
  3. You have an idea to provide value
    Problems exists in every niche, and it's your job as an entrepreneur to pick one and figure out a way to solve it. We'll talk about this more in-depth shortly.
  4. People need to be willing to spend money
    Do some research (usually you can just go with common sense) to get an understanding if people spend money here. The good news is that most niches can be monetized in one way or the other.

Step 4 – Find a name

This step is about finding a brand and picking a domain name.

When it comes to choosing a name for your business or brand, there's no absolutes.

There's no right and wrong names.

In fact, you can most names work.

There's are some things you should ask yourself and things to have in consideration before choosing a name.

4.1 – How to find a good name

Finding a good name requires a lot of patience, creativity and a bit of luck. These days, most good names are taken.

But let your mind wander long enough and sooner or later you will come up with a name that you love.

Here's some basic tips to coming up with a good name:

  • Spend 30 minutes brainstorming on different names. Start writing up different words that you associate with your future brand, and see how you can play with the words to make that into a name.
  • Use name generators. I personally like to play around with Namelix, not to get names, but to get ideas that I can expand on.
  • Don't dwell too much, and don't pick a name too quick ether. Make a list of different names that you find acceptable, check back on the list a few days later and see which you like the best.

4.2 – Buy existing or find available?

First question you need to ask: how much do you want to pay for your name?

Do you want to buy an existing domain name (prices usually starting from โ‚ฌ1000), or do you want to find an available domain (from 8โ‚ฌ per year)?

If this is your first business, I recommend that you find a name that is available.

When starting your next business, consider getting a premium brand.

4.3 – Find if it's available

If you choose to go with finding an available name, you'll need to spend some time to find a good name that's actually available.

Assuming that you are going to start an online business, the easiest way would be to check if the domain is available.

You can do that here:

If you're not interested in the domain, you'd need to check if the company name is taken by checking your local register and using Google.

4.4 – Brand or keyword?

Do you want to build a name based on keywords, or do you want build something more brandable?

Using “MountainBikesForKids.com” can work well in many ways, but you'll have a hard time turning it into a recognized brand.

Upsides of keyword names:

  • Everyone knows what your business is about
  • Google might rank you higher on keywords related to your name
  • Conversion rates might be higher

Upsides of brand names:

  • Easier to brand (people will recognize you)
  • Easier to expand to more products
  • More professional

4.5 – Local or global?

Should you go with a local or a global name? It depends what your plans are, and what market you're in.

Upsides with local names:

  • Good if your local market has potential enough
  • People in your country will probably feel more familiar with the brand.
  • Higher trust, which might affect conversion rate

Upsides with global names:

  • Good if you're in a smaller niche that doesn't have too much potential locally
  • Ability to expand to new markets with rebranding or creating new brands
  • You can become recognized worldwide

    Overall guidelines (apply when possible)

  1. Simple names
    Avoid confusing or complicated names. Despite how intelligent a long and complex name sounds to you, most people are more attracted to simple names. There are exceptions, but in general, the simpler, the better.
  2. A name people understand and can pronounce
    Stay away from names that might sound clever to insiders, but none else really understands. People generally prefer names with words that feel familiar. Amazon for example, is easy to remember. Berkshire Hathaway, another of the world's largest companies, is not nearly as known despite having the same revenue.
  3. A name that explains what you do
    It might be an edge if you can find a name that explains what you do. “A Man With A Van” is a great example of a name where people instantly associate it with moving.
  4. Names that trigger emotions
    Some businesses can really benefit from having a name that awakes emotions. If your cat is sick and you see the website “catrescue.com” – that might appeal to you more than “cutekitties.com”.
  5. Avoid long names
    Avoid long names overall – no more than 20 characters. The shorter the better.
  6. Don't use –
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.

Step 5 – Launch fast & execute on your idea

Being an entrepreneur means that you will fail occasionally.

There's nothing wrong with that and you can't completely avoid it.

So instead of trying to avoid failure, the game plan should be to fail as fast as possible.

You really need to learn to enjoy your failures and move forward quick if you want to make it in this game.

5.1 – Experiment with minimum viable products

You can map out the best business plan, do in-depth market analysis, create an astonishing product, hire marketing experts, set up a sales funnel, only to find out that people didn't need your product, or you didn't make them understand that they need it.

That's why it's better to launch fast and execute on your idea as soon as you got what is called minimum viable product (or service).

Minimum viable product means to build the core functionality of your product and then see if people like it.

A rule of thumb is to get 80% of your product done, and then go out and test it, in various ways.

You should not necessarily expect massive success on a MVP launch, because you do need to perfect your product or service before it will “take off”, but the idea is to just check that it's not a complete failure, and that it generates some interest.

5.2 – Conducting micro experiments

Once you have your MVP ready, you need to conduct micro experiments to confirm that it works (or at least confirm that it doesn't suck completely).

This is essential because you don't want to continue developing a product just to find out that it has no value for the real market.

Ideas on conducting the experiments:

  • Generate leads pre-launch.
  • Try giving it away for free.
  • Run a social media ad to see the traction.

5.3 – Building a real product

The hardest part is of course to start executing and

Step 6 – Setup marketing channel(s)

Finding a good source of customers is one of the most important aspects of creating a profitable business and becoming a successful entrepreneur.

There's a ton of ways to get clients and customers, but it all depends on your business, and it's crucial to find the best channel for you.

Once you nailed down the fundamentals in your product, this is the step you should experiment the most with.

6.1 – Get the first customers

Before jumping in too deep in any specific marketing type, you should get some first customers.

Even though you already conducted some experiments to know that your product have some traction, you need to know that it will work on real customers.

This will also tell you a lot about what your customers really think about your product, and hopefully give you some feedback so that you're able to fix problems before spending too much of your funds on marketing that won't work because of fundamental flaws in your product.

Ideas to get your first customers:

  • Ask friends and family who might genuinely be interested in your product.
  • Let your followers on social media know about your launch.
  • Find relevant people on LinkedIn and pitch your product in a DM.
  • Try sending out cold emails to businesses who might need your product.
  • Go to seminars and conferences related to your industry.

6.2 – Scaling up your marketing

Once you're confident that your product works and meets the expectation of your customer, it's time to to scale up the marketing and get your business going for real.

This is when the fun begins.

However, this step won't work unless you know for sure that you have a product that works – so don't bother going here until you are sure of that.

6.3 – Finding your marketing channel

Here's some of the biggest marketing channels.

    Different type of marketing channels

  1. Social media marketing
    Avoid confusing or complicated names. Despite how intelligent a long and complex name sounds to you, most people are more attracted to simple names. There are exceptions, but in general, the simpler, the better.
  2. Search engine optimization
    Stay away from names that might sound clever to insiders, but none else really understands. People generally prefer names with words that feel familiar. Amazon for example, is easy to remember. Berkshire Hathaway, another of the world's largest companies, is not nearly as known despite having the same revenue.
  3. Banner ads
    It might be an edge if you can find a name that explains what you do. “A Man With A Van” is a great example of a name where people instantly associate it with moving.
  4. Affiliate marketing
    Some businesses can really benefit from having a name that awakes emotions. If your cat is sick and you see the website “catrescue.com” – that might appeal to you more than “cutekitties.com”.
  5. Billboards
    Avoid long names overall – no more than 20 characters. The shorter the better.
  6. Word of mouth
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  7. Guest blogging
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  8. CPC Ads
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.

Step 7 – Start building your network

No matter what business you're in, an essential ingredient in becoming a successful entrepreneur is to know the right people.

In fact, it's way more about who you know rather than what you do.

7.1 – Why networking is so powerful

Networking doesn't necessarily only mean that you're targeting rich people who could fund your business.

It goes much deeper than that.

The benefits of networking:

  • Finding ways to collaborate (resource-sharing) with your competitors and inducing win-win situations instead of competing with them.
  • Learning from people in your industry, staying up to date with the newest trends and getting new external input.
  • Helping people in your industry (that one day might return the favour when you need it).
  • Recruit clients by building relationships instead of cold-calling and contacting random people.
  • Find partners who you can start new collaborations with.
  • Find mentors, investors and advisors who can help take your business to the next level.
  • Establish your presence and making yourself seen. If you're attending the main industry events, people will just assume you're one of the big players. Just being present is a form of marketing.

It's hard to understand the real benefits until you have launched several businesses and realized that much of your success could be attributed to your network, sharing resources.

7.2 – How to start networking

    How to network

  1. Social media marketing
    Avoid confusing or complicated names. Despite how intelligent a long and complex name sounds to you, most people are more attracted to simple names. There are exceptions, but in general, the simpler, the better.
  2. Search engine optimization
    Stay away from names that might sound clever to insiders, but none else really understands. People generally prefer names with words that feel familiar. Amazon for example, is easy to remember. Berkshire Hathaway, another of the world's largest companies, is not nearly as known despite having the same revenue.
  3. Banner ads
    It might be an edge if you can find a name that explains what you do. “A Man With A Van” is a great example of a name where people instantly associate it with moving.
  4. Affiliate marketing
    Some businesses can really benefit from having a name that awakes emotions. If your cat is sick and you see the website “catrescue.com” – that might appeal to you more than “cutekitties.com”.
  5. Billboards
    Avoid long names overall – no more than 20 characters. The shorter the better.
  6. Word of mouth
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  7. Guest blogging
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  8. CPC Ads
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.

Step 8 – Learn the habits of successful entrepreneurs

To grow a successful business, you need to grow yourself.

Learning the habits of successful entrepreneurs is a vital part of getting there.

8.1 – Setting up your life for success

Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not just a profession. Your whole life will be very integrated, and what you do on your free time, will affect your ability to do important work.

It's therefore extremely important to make the decision to become successful in all areas of life.

8.2 Balancing input vs output

The biggest dilemma in entrepreneurship is finding the fine line between over-learning and under-learning.

8.3 – Habits of highly successful entrepreneurs

    How to network

  1. Social media marketing
    Avoid confusing or complicated names. Despite how intelligent a long and complex name sounds to you, most people are more attracted to simple names. There are exceptions, but in general, the simpler, the better.
  2. Search engine optimization
    Stay away from names that might sound clever to insiders, but none else really understands. People generally prefer names with words that feel familiar. Amazon for example, is easy to remember. Berkshire Hathaway, another of the world's largest companies, is not nearly as known despite having the same revenue.
  3. Banner ads
    It might be an edge if you can find a name that explains what you do. “A Man With A Van” is a great example of a name where people instantly associate it with moving.
  4. Affiliate marketing
    Some businesses can really benefit from having a name that awakes emotions. If your cat is sick and you see the website “catrescue.com” – that might appeal to you more than “cutekitties.com”.
  5. Billboards
    Avoid long names overall – no more than 20 characters. The shorter the better.
  6. Word of mouth
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  7. Guest blogging
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  8. CPC Ads
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.

24 tips for you to become a successful entrepreneur (each tip a h4)

Step 9 – Raise money and scale it

Raising money can scale your business faster.

That being said, if liquidity is not a bottle neck (but rather you need to develop better ideas, systems and processes), you shouldn't go out and raise money just because you can.

9.1 – Be aware of raising money too early

If your business is not ready for growth – for any reason, then throwing money at the problem could just cover up fundamental flaws in your model and later on cause problems.

You should raise money when:

  • You have a proven business model that works
  • When you have set up processes and systems
  • Once cash becomes the bottle neck

9.2 – How to pitch your idea

Getting investors to believe in you and your business requires some work.

9.3 – Ways to raise money

Here's a list of different methods you can use to get funds.

    Different ways to raise money

  1. Ask family or friends to invest
    Avoid confusing or complicated names. Despite how intelligent a long and complex name sounds to you, most people are more attracted to simple names. There are exceptions, but in general, the simpler, the better.
  2. Apply for a governmental grant
    Stay away from names that might sound clever to insiders, but none else really understands. People generally prefer names with words that feel familiar. Amazon for example, is easy to remember. Berkshire Hathaway, another of the world's largest companies, is not nearly as known despite having the same revenue.
  3. Use crowdfunding platforms
    It might be an edge if you can find a name that explains what you do. “A Man With A Van” is a great example of a name where people instantly associate it with moving.
  4. Find an angel investor
    Some businesses can really benefit from having a name that awakes emotions. If your cat is sick and you see the website “catrescue.com” – that might appeal to you more than “cutekitties.com”.
  5. Go to venture capitalists
    Avoid long names overall – no more than 20 characters. The shorter the better.
  6. Get a credit card for short term expenses
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  7. Apply for a micro loan
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.
  8. Boostrap it – use your own money
    A practical tips is to avoid the “-” symbol, both in your official company name and domain.