How to Become an Entrepreneur

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You can become an entrepreneur with an investment as simple as a snow shovel, or you can put many years of hard-earned cash into getting your endeavor off the ground. Whether your entrepreneurial idea is lean or ambitious, you'll need savvy, skills and determination to succeed. Although money is an obvious measure of entrepreneurial success, you can build your business around other values such as quality of life or environmental stewardship, as long as you manage your resources well enough to pay your bills, including your living expenses.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Start preparing for your entrepreneurial venture by learning basic bookkeeping and building your knowledge of the industry you choose. Calculate your startup costs by researching and listing the expenses you'll likely encounter before you start taking in revenue. Startup expenses may include licenses, training, construction build-out, legal fees, equipment and inventory. Also, budget for your own living expenses during the startup period and until the business starts earning enough to pay you adequately.

Also, make sure you explore sources of financing. If you have experience in your field and collateral such as personal real estate, you may be able to secure a bank loan or a Small Business Administration loan to help with startup costs. Alternately, you may be able to borrow money from friends or relatives or use unsecured types of bank financing such as credit cards. Whatever sources of financing you use, you need to fully understand the terms and consequences, as well as the effect that repayment will have on your new company's operating budget.

Succeeding as an Entrepreneur

The success of your entrepreneurial venture depends on your goals and vision. If your goal in starting your own business is to spend evenings and weekends with your family, you will have succeeded as an entrepreneur if you achieve this personal goal while also earning enough to keep your company afloat. If you're after financial success, set clear objectives defining how much you eventually want to earn and evaluate your success accordingly. Outline your goals and strategy in a business plan that includes a clear description of your products and services, your target market and your marketing approach. Flesh out your business plan with financial data including anticipated operating expenses and cash flow projections. Review your business plan regularly and update it as new circumstances unfold.

Finding an Entrepreneurial Mentor

The industry in which you plan to start your business is a fitting place to find an entrepreneur to mentor you. Many business owners are passionate about their work and eager to share their knowledge. Be clear about what you want from a mentor and realistic about your expectations before contacting leaders who may be a good fit. It makes more sense to approach the owner of a small company rather than a global CEO. Be respectful of your potential mentor's time and offer to contribute some work on an internship basis. Contact business mentoring organizations such as SCORE or TiE. Your local government likely also has a division devoted to fostering entrepreneurship that is staffed by current and former business owners who are interested in sharing their knowledge and experience.

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About the Author

Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.