What Does It REALLY Take to Make It as an Entrepreneur?

In the world of entrepreneurship, we hear plenty of terms like leadership, belief, passion, and even motivation. Those are all critical aspects of what makes an entrepreneur special, but do any of those — or even all of those together — mean a person is going to be successful in business?

No, it doesn’t.

You can go online and search for any number of stories about entrepreneurs who began with nothing or next to nothing and built multimillion dollar companies. You can also find plenty of tales of men and women who left the corporate world, the 9-to-5 routine, pursued their own dreams and passions, believed it was possible, and still failed.

The real question isn’t about a set of ingredients, as though you’re making a cake. It’s about something a bit deeper.

Meet Kristina Powell

It’s only been a few years since Kristina Powell created the Koala Clip, a simple little phone, credit card, and other item holder specially designed for women.

She was sitting at her kitchen table after going for a jog, frustrated at the effort it took just to try and keep her phone and other things she brought along with her in place.

At the time, there were plenty of armbands and other gadgets and gizmos, including fanny packs and shoulder slings. None of them seemed to work, not for her and not while she was jogging and exercising.

She came up with the idea of a clip that would attach to a sports bra along the back, right between the shoulder blades.

She didn’t seek outside investors. She didn’t look for help. She wasn’t planning on creating a team and building a huge business, but with her idea and $200, she became an entrepreneur.

You can read more about her story through a Fox Business article here. I want to take a moment and briefly dissect her story so that you may come away with a better understanding of what it really takes to make it as an entrepreneur.

What was the start of her business?

As someone who dreams of being an entrepreneur or who has a wonderful idea they believe would make an incredible product or service, what would you consider to be the beginning of your life as an entrepreneur?

In all the conversations I’ve had with people through the years, it seems to come down to one thing: actually starting the business.

I disagree, at least to some degree.

It is absolutely true that if you don’t start a business, there’s really no point in calling yourself an entrepreneur. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, you can be a dreamer and there are plenty of those out there.

In fact, walk around and listen to some of the conversations people have while talking to friends at a café, while out on a date in a nice restaurant, or just strolling down the street and you will hear the truth: that most people are dreamers.

They have dreams about owning a bigger house. They have dreams about a wonderful vacation. They have dreams about starting a family. They have dreams of bringing an idea to life and starting their own business.

Dreaming isn’t the problem. Without a dream, no entrepreneur would exist. You wouldn’t have a Steve Jobs, an Elon musk, or a Bill Gates. You also wouldn’t have a Kristina Powell.

The idea is certainly the starting point. But, an idea by itself is powerless. It has no ability to bring itself into existence. It doesn’t have the mental fortitude to figure out how to make things work. An idea can’t will itself into existence.

If it’s not the idea, what is the start of the entrepreneur’s life?

Action. It really comes down to action. You can have all the ideas in the world, be one of the most creative, innovative minds in history, but if you don’t take action, none of that matters.

Like a writer who has plenty of ideas for incredible books or movies that people would absolutely love who never puts word to paper, what good is it?

Sure, that person may very well be entertained by the stories in their mind, but is that enough? Is it enough to have an idea for a multi-million dollar product or service and never do anything with it?

If you remain in the dream state of life, you’ll miss half of the blessings that come from living life to its fullest.

My contention is that the entrepreneurial life begins the moment you start taking action. It’s the moment you make a decision that you’re going to do something about this dream, this idea, this vision.

If Thomas Edison or Nicholas Tesla merely had an idea of transmitting electricity across lines in order to power a lightbulb or other devices, but did nothing to pursue them, where would we be?

If John F. Kennedy only stood in front of a nation and said by the end of the decade they would land a man on the moon, but never invested money or drove scientists to figure out how to do it, if he never inspired and no one followed through, then what would have been the point of that speech?

Action. That’s where it all starts. And we see that in Kristina Powell’s story.

Where did Kristina Powell go next?

When she had this ‘epiphany,’ as she referred to the idea, she could have sat at her kitchen table and imagined what life would be like if only there was a product just like that.

Instead, without any manufacturing or retail skills or knowledge, she set out to create the product. She used a sewing machine she had in her home to create the first product of its kind.

She took action.

What started out as an idea with $200 has become a million-dollar business. Currently, Ms. Powell has no interest in selling the business to anybody else. As she put it, “I’m the sole investor in it. I don’t have outside investors… my goal really is to just solve this problem that active women have.”

Where are you right now?

No, I’m not asking where you live, whether you’re sitting in a café reading this, on a train, at home, on your work computer, in a cubicle, or even in the break room. Heck, you could be on the toilet … (I would not want to know that!).

I’m asking about where you are in light of this entrepreneurial life. Are you stuck with just an idea? Maybe the idea is just to be an entrepreneur. You may not have some innovative concept of a product. You might not yet know the service you want to offer.

You just know, in your heart, you want to be your own boss. You want to start a business, own it, control it, and help it grow.

That’s fine. You don’t have to have a groundbreaking concept for a new product or service to be an entrepreneur. Yes, that is commonly associated with being an entrepreneur, but that’s not the only way you can be one.

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who take on franchises, fast food chains or retail outlets that are owned by much bigger companies.

We often refer to these people as business owners, but what is an entrepreneur if not a business owner?

The real question is about where you are on the scale of entrepreneurship. Are you a dreamer? Or are you taking action?

What if you’ve not yet taken action?

That’s fine. Trust me. We have all been there. This is actually the first step or first stage a person has to be at before they can become an entrepreneur.

You have to have an idea. You must have a dream of something bigger or better for yourself and perhaps others. Without that idea, without the dream, nothing else really matters.

Why?

Because, when you have a dream and you want to bring it to life, you have passion. A dream ignites the flames within our lives.

You might argue that Kristina Powell really didn’t have this overriding passion to create a different product that could hold a phone while women jog. But I beg to differ.

If you read that article, as short and simple as it was, you would see the passion in her words. But even if she never did an interview, you see the passion in the end result: the business she built.

She’s not ready to sell it. She didn’t do this for money. If you’re going into this simply about making more money, you are going to face plenty of hurdles, many of which you will likely not be able to overcome.

Why?

Because money doesn’t inspire passion for most people. Yes, you might be passionate about earning money, but you can go and become a lawyer, a doctor, or do plenty of other things and work your way up the corporate ladder until you’re an executive, making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year.

Being an entrepreneur and going the other route may or may not bring you the kind of financial wealth you aspire to, but whichever path you would choose if money is your only driving factor will put you right back into the work routine.

Most people don’t want to get stuck on the hamster wheel, grinding out every day’s work. Entrepreneurs face plenty of tough days, work incredibly long hours, invest their time, sweat, and money into their visions, and sometimes they win and many times they lose, but no matter how tired they are, how frustrated they get, they can’t stay away.

The dream, the vision, the idea keeps calling them back again and again. Even after they fail, when some time has passed, they begin to evaluate why it failed. They start to see the mistakes they made that they couldn’t see at the time.

Suddenly, they are drawn back in.

Do you have what it takes to make it as an entrepreneur?

This is really the quintessential question you need to ask yourself. It’s not whether Kristina Powell or Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Thomas Edison or Nicholas Tesla have or had what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

The question is … do you?

It’s easy to say you do and it’s easy to say you don’t. This is not a question I can answer for you.

The only real question to determine whether you have what it takes is if you are willing or have already started to take action.

What is action? It could be as simple as research. Learning what it will take to bring this idea to life. Understanding the different talents and skills you have to surround yourself with. Knowing the legal aspects, the forms and documents, the registrations, the patents, or anything else that goes along with it.

That’s action. So is building a product you want to sell.

Whatever it is, take action. Kristina Powell did just five years ago and she now owns a million-dollar company.

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