Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Gugu Mjadu
Entrepreneurship is one of the most noble career paths, but also the most challenging and does not come without its pressures. Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, says that entrepreneurship is not suited to everyone and individuals taking this career path should possess certain characteristics in order to thrive.

“While successful entrepreneurs are widely celebrated, the reality is that starting a business involves hard work, sweat and tears. Having a great idea is just one of many steps and processes to starting a successful business venture.”

Mjadu says that there comes a time in every aspiring entrepreneur’s career path that they decide to take the leap of leaving their 9-5 job to embrace their passion of creating and building their own business and become their own boss. She advises that before taking this step, entrepreneurs need to make sure they have done their homework and sufficient research.

Mjadu shares key points entrepreneurs should ask themselves before embarking on this journey:

1.    Is your business idea viable? 
Taking the decision to leave the security of a full-time job is risky and shouldn’t be taken hastily. Before taking this step, entrepreneurs need to have a comprehensive business plan in place. A business plan isn’t just crucial for seeking funding (should it be required), but assists in establishing the right steps to establish your business, as well as allows an entrepreneur to have a thorough understanding of their business. During this process, an entrepreneur will get an understanding of whether the concept is achievable in terms of its goals and objectives, when you can expect to break even and even when you should plan to start hiring staff. It is also advisable to ask an expert, or impartial contact, to review the plan to gauge if you are on the right track.

2.    Do you have the financial stability to quit your job and build your own enterprise?  
Aspiring entrepreneurs need to ensure that they have their finances in order. Starting a business requires financial input, and after quitting a full time job, there will no longer be a steady income at the end of each month. For some businesses, revenue can be generated fairly quickly, while for others with large start-up costs, it could be months before the business is profitable. Aspiring entrepreneurs need to assess whether they can maintain their current lifestyle, in terms of debts such as bond or car repayments. If not, they need to be prepared to sacrifice luxuries they may have become accustomed to. If they are not prepared to do so, it may be advisable to instead build the business after working hours to ensure viability.

3.    Do you know the realities of an entrepreneurial journey? 
Entrepreneurs need to ensure they have engaged with successful entrepreneurs who have gone through the journey and survived to tell their story. Entrepreneurship poses various challenges, from securing funding to complying with relevant regulatory requirements and overcoming red tape. While research may equip entrepreneurs with know-how, first-hand experience will equip them with far more powerful knowledge. Such engagement will also provide a sounding board and enable the entrepreneur to obtain immediate feedback from experienced business leaders.

It is also important to talk to your spouse, family and friends to explain the journey ahead to ensure you have their support and buy in for the journey ahead. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely venture, so this support is crucial.

4.    Do you have a ‘make it happen’ attitude?
Many individuals dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur, but few manage to achieve this aspiration. When starting a business, entrepreneurs must be willing to put in the time and effort, as in the beginning a work / life balance will likely be non-existent as you build your business. Starting a business requires long hours, and sometimes disappointments. However true entrepreneurs do not take ‘no’ for an answer and will continue to seek ways to ‘make it happen’ if at first they don’t succeed.

Mjadu concludes with a final thought: “There is always a debate around whether entrepreneurs are bred or born. While entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, it doesn’t mean that only select individuals will succeed in becoming successful entrepreneurs. With the right ideas and subsequent research, success is possible. But more importantly, what makes entrepreneurs successful is their eternal optimism and can-do attitude.”