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Thu 30 Jan 2014 03:44 PM

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What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

Sometimes you have to fail before you can really succeed, says Salma Awwad

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

It’s always amazing to talk about other people’s successes and what they have accomplished in life. But you hardly ever hear about the hardships and the sheer determination that it took to get there; the number of start-ups that shut down in their first year of operation; or even ideas that have been brewing for years and never see the light of day.

The truth is, not everyone is cut out to be a business owner. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who have been to hell and back and lived to tell the story.

But what exactly does it take to be an entrepreneur? Vision, know-how, or just pure luck? Most likely, it’s a combination of all three.

We all dream, even for just a moment, of being our own boss or having complete creative freedom. But the truth is, running a successful business is all about the bottom line. In the end, if your creative freedom is costing more that it’s raking in - you’ll not only have an unsustainable business on your hands, but also a lot of precious time, money and effort wasted.

But learning from your mistakes and picking up the pieces to start all over, again and again, is one of the most important traits of entrepreneurs that rarely gets mentioned.

Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Donald Trump all had to hit rock bottom before rising to the top. Achieving success was so real to them that everything that got in the way was just a minor setback.

Richard Branson really made it work with the “rock-bottom principle”. But if you were to meet him in his teens, you wouldn’t really bet on his later success.

Branson had poor reading and math skills, dropped out of high-school and is proud to admit he’s dyslexic. Not really your first choice for a billionaire philanthropist, knight and worldwide media icon.

His first business endeavor, the Student Magazine, which he started when he was 16, had difficulties with the UK’s law enforcement agencies and Branson almost went to jail for publishing remedies for veneral disease.

It didn’t stop there. His Virgin record shops, in the midst of cash-flow problems, almost put him in jail again. After spending one night in prison, the plea bargain for $99,000 was paid.

The trend of failures kept on going for him, but fear of failure was never an option. According to his definition: “Learn from failure. If you are an entrepreneur and your first venture wasn’t a success, welcome to the club!”

So, if you are thinking of starting your own venture and have been holding back or piling up the excuses, it’s time to put all this aside and just go for it. After all, the best time to do it is now.

And in the great words of Sir Richard Branson: Screw It! Just Do It!

Jacobs 5 years ago

Interesting article but unfortunately it´s becoming such an old cliche! Screw it! Just Do It! is OK if you are young and have nothing to loose but if you stand to loose your home, family and life savings then think more than twice before taking the plunge. After all, statistics show that over 80% of start ups fail within the first 24 months!

A health warning ought to be added!

If you want a true, down to earth, inspiring story then have a read:

Peter Cooper 5 years ago

One thing is quite certain entrepreneurs are not created by government programs... they are the quintessential self-starters and don't need any help from anybody, and if they do, forget it!

Monkey Tennis 5 years ago

Not created by them but they sure can take advantage of them and there is a huge amount of evidence to suggest that the right sort of help can guide those people with the natural gifts and tenacity required toward success quicker and with more certainty of success than just leaving them to it. Rarely however is this financial support rather it is access to expertise they would not normally get. The UAE government should oblige all major banks, law firms, marketing firms etc... to commit to helping provide Emirati entrepreneurs with this expertise.

Martin Hughes (Carranmore) 5 years ago

Especially as an entrepreneur, you need a clear vision of what your offering is and how it differs from whatever is currently on the market. Yes, by all means, give an idea a go, but make sure that you are clear on the time, effort, impact and likely payback period.

Watch this business model canvas lecture - takes about an hour -
and if you can't clearly explain what you're offering, to who and how you'll be compensated for it, then I'd spend more time thinking before launching