Becoming an entrepreneur is a fun yet scary proposition. Often, entrepreneurs go against the advice of their friends and family members, in order to follow their dreams and pursue their passion. However, making that leap is a rocky road.
Here are four action steps that you can take right now to make the journey less bumpy:
1. Develop a Personal Mission Statement
A challenging yet exciting thing about entrepreneurship is that you are inundated with ideas and opportunities, but to be effective, you need to choose the ones that work best with what you want out of your life. Create a personal mission statement that will act as a decisive filter. For example, my personal mission statement is "to become a tycoon politically, socially, and economically so that I may have a positive impact on my community." When developing your own, you must ask yourself two questions: What core things are most important to you? Why are those things important? Your answers will help you figure out how to accomplish your goals. Remember that your personal mission statement is not set in stone, so tweak it accordingly as your life's priorities change.
2. Reduce Your Expenses
One of the main reasons many people don't start businesses is because they're afraid of losing their home, car, ability to provide for their families, etc. But the ultimate goal is to generate big wins while reducing your expenses.
A solution to this is to cut your expenses down to the necessities. You don't need to make your life miserable, but simply review your expenses and find affordable alternatives—starting with the most expensive item. Do you really need to pay $1000 per month in rent, or can you share an apartment with a friend to save money? Actively cut those excessive expenses and recalibrate yourself to your new lifestyle. The more responsibility and expenses that you have, the harder it will be for you to take on the entrepreneurial mind set.
3. Create a Synthetic Family of Networks
Don't worry about whether you come from a rich and well-connected family or not. There are plenty of successful entrepreneurs who came from very little. What is often overlooked, however, are the key people who helped give them that additional push or extra opportunity. They created their synthetic family of networks.
A synthetic family is not the family you were born with, but one that you created who help provide the resources you need to accomplish your goals. The start of my synthetic network was with Carl Brazley, a former professional football player who owned a marketing firm in my hometown of Louisville, Ky. He introduced me to the city's most successful entrepreneurs. Having this network built before starting Great Black Speakers Bureau made it easier in the early years, because I had people who willingly gave their time and connections to help my company grow.
4. Take an Inventory of Your Current Assets
Motivational teacher and speaker Jullien Gordon turned down a lucrative corporate career after graduating from the Stanford Graduate School of Business to help people find their purpose in life. He often speaks of the 4.0 grade that really matters:
1. Personal Capital – How well do you know yourself?
2. Intellectual Capital – What do you know?
3. Social Capital – Who do you know and who knows you?
4. Financial Capital – Who knows that you know what you know?
Before you make that leap to entrepreneurship, take a hard look at where you stand across these four dimensions:
Are You Ready for Entrepreneurship?
Making the leap is already frightening enough. Make the transition easier by following these steps, which will relax your mind so that you can then fill it up again with a level of creativity and execution that will help you change the world for the better.
Lawrence Watkins is the founder of Great Black Speakers Bureau, a company that helps organizations find African American public speakers for various events. He is also the Co-Founder of Ujamaa Deals, a daily deal site that promotes African American-owned businesses. After graduating from college in 2006, Lawrence stepped out on a limb and turned down job offers from two Fortune 500 companies to help grow the speaking career of his older brother, Dr. Boyce Watkins. Great Black Speakers was born in January of 2007 and has grown from a roster of 12 speakers to one that includes over 200 of the best and well known speakers in the nation. The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.