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How to think like a successful entrepreneur

How to think like a successful entrepreneur
Photo by Alexandar Todov on Unsplash

Learning how to think like a successful entrepreneur will help you organise your thoughts before starting your business.

Your entrepreneurial skills will naturally develop as your business grows, but this list of questions will put you in a good position before you learn how to write your business plan.

  • Have you reserved time to collect your thoughts?

  • Do you dedicate time for entrepreneurial thinking?

  • Can you clearly describe your business or business idea?

  • How will your customers benefit from your business?

  • Can entrepreneurial thinking find your ideal customer?

  • Do you know the potential size of your business opportunity?

  • Can you use market research to prove/disprove your business idea?

  • What do your business projections tell you about the future?

  • Is your business idea financially viable?

  • Have you defined your goals, objectives and actions?

  • What do you need to help you make your business a reality?

  • What budget will you need to make this happen?

  • How long until you reach profitability?

Have you reserved time to collect your thoughts?

Thinking like an entrepreneur before you start your entrepreneurial journey is important. You should observe the worlds’ needs, wants and problems. This is the first step before you can get your business off the ground. You need to understand the world, decide the problem you will solve and provide your customers with value.

This step is often the area where many new business owners fall short. It’s natural to be concerned with getting started rather than thinking about real customer problems. Taking the time to think about how your business can meet customer needs will make your business stand out from the crowd.

Do you dedicate time for entrepreneurial thinking?

Taking the time to focus your thoughts and be more strategic will organise your thinking.

Take your random thoughts and feelings and place them within lists. Decide whether your thoughts relate to your personal goals, business objectives or simply thoughts for you to improve later.

Try to place everything in a list or a section, which relates to your personal and professional life. This will help with the deeper business planning and helps you decide on what’s important to you and your business journey.

Divide your list into personal and professional goals. Prioritise the list of thoughts, so you can get the most out of your business for your personal life and also provide your preferred customers with value.

Can you clearly describe your business or business idea?

What is your business idea?

Do you need a business plan needs you to include detail on your business, but initially it’s best to keep things simple. Try to reduce the description of your business into one or two sentences. Something simple that will help people unfamiliar with your or your business understand what you will do for your customers.

This is often more difficult than it sounds. Especially, if you have not fully formed your business idea and you’re still at the thinking of business idea and mind mapping stage.

How will your business benefit your customers?

After reducing your business idea to a couple of short sentences, you should be able to do the same for the value that you will provide to your customers. What can you provide your customers that would be difficult to find elsewhere? How will you provide your products or services in a unique way?

It’s vital to think about your customer and how they will receive the benefits of your business. This is more about your customer than you. Take the time to think about this from your customers’ perspective, so you can get the most from this exercise.

Can entrepreneurial thinking find your ideal customer?

Trying to find your ideal customer is something needed by every business. Understanding exactly who you’re targetting and why they would want your product or service is fundamental for any business or side hustle.

Your ideal customer is a person or business that would receive the most value from your businesses product or service. The ideal customer may not be person that uses your product or service the most, but could be a business that would like to access your contacts.

Do you know the potential size of your business opportunity?

Estimating the size of your potential customer base can be difficult, but it’s something every new business owner must consider when thinking like an entrepreneur. Estimating the size of your market is more than using a percentage of a large number.

The overall market might be large, but what is the realistic size of the customer base that YOU could reach. Using a large social media following and estimating a certain proportion of your followers using your products or services is realistic.

However, if you have no customers and no relationships then you will need to think of a plan to reach your preferred customers and how long it would take before the plan started to develop. The success of your thinking is important, as assuming growth from nothing without a method to grow is unrealistic.

Entrepreneurs think about how to prove/disprove their ideas?

The very best business owners try to prove themselves wrong at every step of the way. The objective is to understand if they should spend time working on their idea.

Perform market research for your business, so you understand everything that could affect your success. You need to know the internal factors, external factors and other risks.

Test competitor products and interview potential customers to get a better idea of where you fit in the industry. If possible find the most dedicated people or influencers within your business area and join forums, groups or follow social media accounts to watch interactions and communicate about related products or services.

Understanding customer service issues or quality complaints for competitors are all important areas for you to understand and track before writing your business plan.

What do your business projections tell you about the future?

Business is all about making goals, setting objectives and working towards them. However, before any goal setting you need to make projections and predictions about how your business will perform given your current situation and knowledge.

This stage is difficult as it’s a lot of unknowns, but it will quickly tell you if the market for your product or service is largeenough to support the business. Your information will not need to be perfect, but it will need to be realistic, so you’re not under any illusions.

Is your business idea financially viable?

Entrepreneurial business leaders will think about the financial viability of their idea. Some of the follow questions will help you to organise your thoughts:

  • Can you estimate the number of sales based on advertising campaigns after your testing and research phase?

  • Do you have an idea of competitive pricing and how your product or service would perform against the competition?

  • How are sales likely to change over time?

  • Is there a pattern to competitor sales?

  • Does most of the income originate from advertising, marketing, etc?

If you discover your business idea will be sustainable, you should make changes. Is there a way to direct your business idea to a different group of people or change your marketing plan?

Thinking about all of the different options will give you more entrepreneurial thoughts and lead you to a stronger business outcome.

Have you defined your goals, objectives and actions?

Assuming you want to continue with your business idea or small business, you should now put all of your goals, objectives and actions down on paper.

Your goals will form the objectives, which will drive the individual actions required to complete them.

When you believe your business is viable this means you can revisit some of the earlier notes around personal and professional goals and review everything together.

With the additional information you will have a clearer idea of what will be needed to help your business to life and updating the goals and objectives will help confirm how your business should operate.

What do you need to help you make your business a reality?

It’s vital to understand what your business will needs to survive and operate, so you can efficiently organise resources and support customers.

List all of the resources, inventory, equipment, raw materials or manufacturing, etc that you will need to help your business operate.

Additionally, think of every person who could assist with your business. The people could be freelancers, employees, co-founders or real team members.

Even if you’re running a single person business, there will always be someone that will help. A qualified accountant and legal advisor may not be directly employed, but will be required at some point in your journey.

What budget will you need to make this happen?

Income does not come from thin air. You need to put something into world and then generate income from your efforts. Your efforts will have a cost associated and you will need to understand the real costs of running your business.

Return to the earlier steps and review your goals and actions and ask some of the following questions:

  • How much money do you need to start your business?

  • Do you need to invest in raw materials or inventory?

  • Will you need to employ or work with freelancers, developers, manufacturers or sales staff to develop your products?

Note down all of the costs associated with starting and running the business from financial and legal expenses down to marketing, website hosting and social media management software. Anything you need to operate your project should be noted down.

How long until you reach profitability?

Every business starts with investment of time, money and effort, but this should be working towards providing value for customers. Your customers will then agree by giving you their money for your value.

Your income should repay your original investment and ongoing costs. How long will it take your business to repay the investment and move into profit?

Take the time to estimate the amount of money that could be generated from your activities and estimate the time it would take you to become profitable.

Could the income increase with additional marketing or advertising? Could you reduce your costs by working with different suppliers or buying raw materials in bulk?

Understanding how your businesses costs changes and how this change will affect your income can help you map your business over time.

Conclusion and final thoughts

Learning how to think like an entrepreneur gives you the best chances of success. Thinking about the important aspects of business is an efficient use of your time.

Understanding how your new project or small business works is also critical to starting a real entrepreneurial business that can support itself over the long term.

Everyone is in a rush to start and succeed, but every real business will take time to plan, before and during it’s operation. Thinking about your business plan before you start will save you time and money while making things easier in the long run.

Good luck!

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