How to become an entrepreneur without formal learning

By Chantal

Entrepreneurs are not born, they are made. You can learn how to become an entrepreneur, can do anything you want to do and become whatever you want to become if you put in the required work to get from where you are to where you want to be. People always try to ascribe their success to their educational background, but you can actually have success without education. The question arises: what does an entrepreneur do? First of all, let us note that a good entrepreneur is not defined by an office, or a business in progress, but is first one at heart and in mind. An entrepreneur is defined by his pattern of thinking, method of analyzing situations and making the correct decisions at the right time to produce the desired outcome in the face of a spontaneous world.

While it may be true that not everyone may have the same entrepreneurial spirit or the same aptness to pick up the winner traits of the ideal entrepreneur, everyone can learn how to become an entrepreneur, not necessarily with conventional education but with entrepreneur education; with the ability to learn how to transform any situation into an opportunity for absolute success. An entrepreneur does not try to predict the future, but makes his future by choice, welcoming every development as a stepping stone to another level of success. If you desire to become an entrepreneur, you can have success without education.

There are steps that define entrepreneurs. Innate patterns that all the successful entrepreneurs follow. You can learn how to become an entrepreneur, but in entrepreneur careers, action is what will define your success in the long run. Be ready to take the time to perfect your skills and the sacrifices of extra hours, working smart, to achieve your goal.

Take responsibility for your situation

The first differentiating factor between one who is an entrepreneur and one who is not is the ability to take responsibility for their situation. If you are reading this, then you are on the first step to your entrepreneur education. The worst thing to happen to someone having a problem is not knowing that they have it. So doing something to learn means acknowledging that it can be learnt. Only you can change your life, because your decisions shape your life. Forget about everyone else and the part they play. This is about you, and your decisions from here on. You are on the path of learning how to be an entrepreneur. Don’t focus on your limitations, they just may be an advantage. Most of the greatest entrepreneurs likes of Bill Gates achieved their success without education.

Identify the Right Business for You

Take time to examine yourself. Be ready to ask and answer the hard questions about yourself. You know your strengths and your weaknesses. You know your passions and your skills, the things you will do even when you don’t feel like working. Find out the skills you may need to acquire in order to pursue your dream of being an entrepreneur. All these differences in people create the points of focus of your entrepreneurial spirit and determine where direct your energy.

How do you know which particular business model or type is "right" for you? There are three common approaches to entrepreneurship:

a)     Do What You Know: Like to be your own boss? Look at skills you have used in service to others in the past and think on how you could repackage those skills and offer them as your own services or products. Explore your options well, and don’t be discouraged by the idea of being self-employed; great entrepreneur careers have come just through critical thinking. Many of your skills may actually have been undersold when you worked for others. You may be surprised how much people will value your services when you repackage and properly market yourself.

b)     Do What Others Do: This involves identifying business models or services that other successful entrepreneurs are into, and learn about these businesses. Once you have identified a business strategy you like, go on to emulate it. There are many options you could explore and you can actually achieve more than those already in the business. Sometimes it will surprise you to know that many people do not apply themselves to learn the basics of the businesses they are involved in, nor put in the required energy to bring about the required success.

c)     Solve an Identified Problem: Is there a gap in the market? Do you have a brand new innovative idea? Is there a service or product you would like to bring to the market? This is the most demanding of them all. You will need to be ready to break fallow grounds. If you choose to go up this path, be ready get knowledge before you spend any money in that direction. Knowledge may be expensive, but ignorance is far more costly.

Identify and attach yourself to the right mentor

This is the most ignored step in this entrepreneurship learning process. Most young entrepreneurial minds don’t see the need for a mentor or even have the humility required to submit to another person with more knowledge and experience than themselves.

Successful entrepreneurs all have mentors. A mentor is simply a trusted and experienced adviser. Mentoring has its source from the Ancient Greeks. In fact, the word mentor is found in Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, goes to fight in the Trojan War and entrusts care of his household to Mentor, who’s functions mostly is as teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. As time passed, the term mentor has come to be ascribed to teachers, trusted advisers, guides, experts, etc.

Today, we know that a mentor is that more experienced person who is ready to give you access to their rich bank of knowledge and experience in their entrepreneur careers, not for their personal or financial gain, but for the simple fact that they want to see you succeed in your entrepreneur career.

Your mentor is the one you can rely on to be there for you when things are good and when things are down. Your mentor will, always see the big picture. you’ll be amazed at what you could learn just by confiding in a mentor.

What does an entrepreneur do when he comes to his wit’s end? Entrepreneurship is a long and often lonely journey and sometimes entrepreneurs find themselves hard pressed and in need of support, advice or just someone who can give guidance and answer questions. This is where a mentor’s role becomes unprecedentedly important.

A good mentor is the more advanced entrepreneur that guides you on your entrepreneur education. Because of their greater experience, a mentor would know more ways to raise funds for your business venture than you may have in mind. Also, a mentor will definitely not be among your “yes men” who will agree with you so long as you are paying them but will be able to give you proper praise when you do well, and correct you when you go wrong.

 A good mentor will be able to spot trouble from afar off and give you better advice than your peers. A good mentor will show you how to become an entrepreneur, making fewer mistakes than he or she did in their time.

Why mentors are important?

A mentor is like the lighthouse to a sailor at sea, keeping you focused and going, whether the odds are good or bad, your mentor has been through similar experiences and will know the best course for you to take to stay in business.

Most of the businesses that are started fail within the first five years because the entrepreneur falls into common pit falls. Your mentor must have gone through many of such experiences and would know the proper advice to give you at every stage for sustainability.

Your mentor is your most reliable supporter, keeping you focused and asking the tough questions you may not be asking yourself. Having a mentor who is available will help you stay motivated and confident when tough times come, and they come to every entrepreneur.

How to find a mentor?

“Your mentors in life are important so choose them wisely” – Robert Kiyosaki

A mentor is practically your center pillar, which makes it very important which mentor you choose, as whichever advice you get shapes your decisions and determines the results at the end of the day. Making a mistake in choosing a mentor would definitely be fatal.

These are the steps to identifying the right mentor for you as an entrepreneur, and if you pay attention, you will realize that it is all about being attentive to learn about the person you want to take as your mentor.

1.     They are willing to explain what they know. There are many successful entrepreneurs who just cannot teach, because they find it hard to coherently communicate. Others are just blunt jealous of upcoming success. But if you look carefully enough, you will find just the person who is willing and able to communicate their vast knowledge.

2.     Check for the availability of the prospective mentor. Sometimes, it is not just about the mentor knowing what he is talking about and being able to teach it, but whether he or she will have time to spend with you to help you get the right focus on your own dream. You need a mentor who will have the time to effectively reason with you, counsel you, and be readily available when you may need to consult him or her.

3.     Watch out for those who are merely looking for someone to serve them. Don’t look up to anyone who cannot really be honest towards you or have a personal interest in your life as a whole. One characteristic you cannot do without in a mentor is that they must care for you holistically. A true mentor not only cares about your work, but your life as a whole. Someone who cares for you personally is definitely motivated by the right things. But you can easily see those who want to use you in the way they talk, without actually giving you what you need, that candid advice that will make the difference between you and one who is not mentored.

Many opportunities arise for you to meet people as an entrepreneur. You must be inquisitive and apt to listen, being very observant and watchful to find your mentor, and to determine those who are merely joking. It must not be a mentor also, who gives you direction. Learning happens most times at the strangest of places.

Business Planning Ensures Success

The importance of planning cannot be downplayed. Most people don't plan, consequently, most people fail. A good business plan will help you define clarity, focus and confidence. A basic plan does not need to be more than one page. The points of interest you must define are your goals, your strategies and action plan. As you write down the vision, your business becomes real and you begin to see the possibilities and challenges that may arise as you try to execute your business idea.

Ask yourself the following questions – and provide clear cut answers:

 - What am I building?

 - Who will I serve?

 - What is the promise I am making to my customers/clients and to myself?

 - What are my objectives, strategies and action plans(steps) to achieve my goals?

Clearly answering these questions provides you with the accurate knowledge of what you are doing and what you remain focused on throughout your implementation.

Know Your Target Audience Before You Spend a dime

Before you spend money to put yourself out there, find out if people will actually be ready to pay for your products or services. What does an entrepreneur do to ascertain the likelihood of breaking into the competitive market? One way you can figure this out is by validating your market – who, to be exact, will buy your products or services other than your family or friends? Don’t work on assumptions or your imaginations of necessity. Ask yourself the hard questions. What is the approximate size of your target market? Who are your customers going to be? Is your product or service relevant to their everyday life? Why do they need it?

Also, there is available industry research that you can peruse for free. Check out industry related articles for data by “googling” the relevant industry associations. Go through Census data on the official websites to learn more. However, taking a personal survey narrowed down to your own vision will be better to give you a more accurate understanding of whether you should move in that direction or not.

Understand your Personal Finances

As an entrepreneur, you cannot really separate your personal and business finances, because chances are that you are your own investor and may be your only investor. Having the required budgeting skills and financial planning knowledge and discipline is a very essential first step before seeking external funding for your business.

Working on your business plan, you will realize that your financial requirements are getting clearer as you define the goals and market size, the financial commitment required becomes clearer and matures before your eyes. When this is done, you know exactly how much funds and resources you will be needing. After this, what does an entrepreneur do to raise funds for his plans? There are also several options of building up funding as the venture begins. There is the option of going by crowd funding or taking a loan.

Build a Support Network

Now that you have made a commitment as an entrepreneur, you need to build a network of supporters, partners, advisors, allies and vendors. If you believe in your business, some like-minded people also will. Network locally, nationally and via social networks. Join your local chamber of commerce, local trade unions or other relevant business groups.

When engaging with others in your field, ask you can help them. The key is to listen more and speak less. You can only say what you know, but you can hear what you do not know. It is therefore important to focus on learning than on teaching in such situations. 

Be generous in your lifestyle, and quick to help because this is a secret to the most successful entrepreneur careers. These are seeds that you sow, to gain a spot in the hearts of your community of contacts. It is like buying an advertising spot on Google Ad Words. You will be the first person that comes to mind each time someone you've helped needs your services or meets someone else who needs your service. Never minimize the power of recommendation. Nobody teaches this in school, and everyone will confirm the effectiveness of it. You can have your success without education, if you apply the right principles.

Sell by creating value

People love an organization, or establishment that they feel has them in mind, and I mean their personal lives, and their livelihood. Constantly focus on serving others; the more people you serve, the more money you will make, and the more recommendations you get which goes a long way to increase your client base and the number of them will actually patronize your establishment.

When considering your customers or clients, ask yourself:

 a) What can I offer them?

 b) How can I add value to their lives and their own pursuits?

 c) How does a customer feel after a visit to my establishment?

 d) How can I improve customer serving experience?

It is interesting to note that getting the quickest profit doesn’t always assure the largest overall gain. This approach can help you to see new ways to hone your product and / or services and deliver more value, which your customers will appreciate.

Get the Word Out

Be willing and ready to declare who you are and what you do with conviction, without hesitation and without apology. Learn to use the most effective on-line platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn) available to the everyday person to broadcast your business news, your innovations, and your offers.

Learn the techniques that help you advertise thoroughly and more effectively. Be like a fisherman, use bait. Post interesting content, grab attention and use it to breakthrough into the market. You could offer something free to those who patronize you, use coupons for your services, and give those who depend on you a chance to lean on you.

Even though such social networking platforms are available, it is good to give a customized experience to capture and keep the attention of your audience. Consider owning a website, and there put content which will not only attract visitors but keep them interested and keep them connected.

The Web evolution is on a level which gives entrepreneurs a chance to publish themselves sometimes even for free. You can even create a free blog with WordPress or Wix or any other hosting platform if you are on a budget or produce something fairly professional looking for much under $300 if you will be patient to put in the time and effort to learn. Constantly posting relevant information and keeping a mailing list helps keep your patrons connected and reminded of your business and your services.

Even though one can never downplay the importance of social networking platforms today, because they are completely necessary, you should not underestimate the power of the old fashioned methods of getting the word out such as word-of-mouth marketing, public relations, columns and articles, speeches, e-mail, newsletters, and the still famous telephone.

What makes you an entrepreneur? what does an entrepreneur do? Entrepreneur careers are characterized by an increase in the ability to make the best of the situation, to produce profit in business. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. Do not neglect the power of community and of mentorship.

Reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs in every way that you have the opportunity to. Attend conferences, training camps, summits and other activities that keep you informed.

You may make contacts who will not only be of help, but completely transform your entrepreneurial dream and take it to a whole new level. You may be surprised by the invaluable contacts that are right at your fingertips already. What are you waiting for? Apply your entrepreneur education from today! It is quite clear from all this that it does not matter your academic background so long as you are determined to succeed as an entrepreneur. You can have your success without education.

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