Being an entrepreneur is a dream for many people and something that a lot of us strive towards. To be completely ‘financially independent’, to be able to set your own working hours, and to be able to work on projects that you feel passionate about and actually chose to work on are all things that many believe will make them happier and more fulfilled in life – and often this is the case.
But before you get too excited about the prospect of creating your own start-up and earning millions while sitting on a beach somewhere in Spain, it’s first important to define what your goals really are. Because if you set off on this journey without doing that first, you’re likely to find that you’re met with disappointment and stress.
The Importance of the Right Goals
In this case though I’m not talking about business goals. Of course you should have those too, but that goes without saying. And anyway, for most people the business goals will be similar: to become massively successful as defined by profits and possibly fame…
Rather then, what I’m talking about are the goals you set for yourself – and specifically for what you want to achieve through your entrepreneurial endeavour. And you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.
Think for a moment what your own goals are. Where do you want to be in ten years thanks to your business? If you have that very hazy image of yourself sitting on a beach, or driving a Lamborghini (one of my favourites), then that’s unfortunately just not enough.
What Are You Working Towards?
If you’re running a business or currently thinking of a business model to follow, and you haven’t properly defined your end point, then you will probably be working towards the wrong goal.
If it’s a beach lifestyle that you really want – as in the freedom and finance to spend lots of time on the beach – and you’re currently in the process of creating a services business for example, then you’re probably not on the right track at all. Why? Because services are much more difficult to scale, much more difficult to automate, and tend to require much more contact and management of your clients. If your company deals with accounting for big corporations and you think you can fly off to a sunny beach without getting lots of calls… well then you’re in denial.
The same goes for companies trying to design the next big digital product like Facebook. You might think this is a relatively ‘passive’ for of income, but you would be highly mistaken. Web apps and software need to constantly reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant, and often it takes years for them to develop anything approaching a form of monetisation. And you think investors are just going to throw themselves at you?
If you want to live a life of luxury on the beach then you need a truly passive business model (think internet marketing), or you need a way to make money quickly – probably in a tried and tested industry – with an ‘exit strategy’ so that you can sell up in a couple of years.
On the other hand though, if you are becoming an entrepreneur because you want to become famous, because you want to change the world and because you want to do something you’re passionate about, then you need to create something new and exciting and probably do want to go the investor route. If you want to feel important then you’ll need staff. If you want to enjoy your everyday job then you’ll need to create a business model that lets you stay creative and do the things you love.
The problem comes when you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but you’re creating a parcel delivery company. Or when you want to live a relaxing life on the beach but you’re currently running a restaurant. Be honest with yourself, be realistic, and then identify the quickest strategy to achieve your goals. And don’t let vanity get in the way – if the quickest way to get your beach lifestyle is to sell an eBook as an affiliate then don’t start building a social network just because it feels more glamorous.
We all have this ‘image’ of an entrepreneurial lifestyle in our heads, and we all think that creating any business model we can think of will help us to achieve that hazy image as long as we’re successful.
Actually though there are many different types of entrepreneurial lifestyle and lots of different types of businesses. You need to decide what you want to achieve first or you can actually end up just as trapped by the entrepreneurial lifestyle as much as any 9-5 job.