As the heart and soul of our country’s economy, small business owners give back to their communities, provide valuable jobs, and help to support the cost of running both state and federal government entities. Unfortunately, the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur that has their own business is one that is fraught with hard work, stress, and uncertainty. You may be wondering whether or not you need an MBA or other type of formal degree to live out your dream of owning and operating your own business. While an MBA can certainly help you develop some of the important skills necessary for running a company, the only true requirement you need to be successful as a business owner is having some basic business essentials so that you can start, manage, and maintain your business through both success and hardship.
While it is great to have a business that excites you and makes you happy to wake up each morning and get to work, if you cannot explain your organization’s unique advantages well enough to get others equally excited, you will face an uphill battle. To start off, you will need to communicate to potential investors and benefactors why your business is worth an investment of their time, money or effort. Once you get up and running, you will need to convince customers that your offerings hold more value for their hard-earned money than those of your competitors. As is the case with many things in life, communication is one of the keys to succeeding as an entrepreneur. To help themselves in this area, many entrepreneurs will spend some time putting thoughts on paper or coming up with an “elevator speech” in which they can concisely convey what their business does and why it is worth a customer’s investment of time or money, in a time frame of about 30-60 seconds.
With the economy in its present state, business owners have to be sure that they can separate themselves from others in their field. Almost every idea or business offering has been done before, but the most creative business owners can use innovation to win business where their competitors fail to. Inc.com writes that business owners also have to use innovation to create their own opportunities when there may not be any immediate chances to sell their products or make a good impression on potential customers. The ability to consistently innovate throughout the life cycle of your business is a skill that will serve you well, especially as conditions shift and you have to deal with changes in both your economy and the market for your products or services.
While working for yourself does allow you to create your own hours, work from any location, and put your own personal touch on your professional activity, the downside is that there is no safety net for you while you are in the startup phase. The success of your business lives and dies by your day-to-day activity. Many entrepreneurs put their own personal assets on the line to start their business, while others borrow money that they will eventually have to pay back, whether their business thrives or flounders. Even if a business does get up and running, it may take months or even years for a company to build up a steady enough base of customers and sales for just one person to be making a comfortable income. You need to truly examine how comfortable you are with being uncertain about whether or not you will be able to make ends meet, a situation that is compounded if you have a family to support.
To minimize risk, Investopedia suggests not putting all of your assets up on one idea and making sure that you do not get dissuaded even if one or more of your ideas fail. Many small business owners had missteps during their career. Real estate mogul Donald Trump, for example, has had four different business entities connected to his name file for bankruptcy. Trump came up with creative ways to overcome these situations and enjoys tremendous success today.
Owning a business is a challenge like no other. Although the risks can be great, the rewards of great wealth, professional freedom, and the ability to give back can be even greater. Having the skills to start and run your own business is much more important than whether they were earned through an academic program or real-world experience.