Do you spend half of your day fantasizing about quitting your 9-to-5? Have you been bit by the entrepreneurial bug? Then prepare to dedicate your life to constantly improving yourself and getting better in touch with who you are.
But the truth is no one can build a legacy alone, and as daunting as it may seem, take solace in the fact that many have treaded this rocky terrain before. In fact, many of those who have acquired wealth have been more than generous with tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
So if you’re hesitant about taking that leap of faith to start your own business, remember that some of the most successful people took that same leap — and look where they landed. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank took all the money he had saved up, including $40,000 in credit card debt, and started an apparel company that’s now doing more than $2 billion in retail sales. At the age of 62, Colonel Harland David Sanders was living off $105 in monthly social security payments and sleeping in his car until he was able to franchise his Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe. These are just two of the people who took the entrepreneur route to build a legacy all their own.
Cassius has decided to sift through success stories from enterprising men and women to bring you the seven best tips and strategies for you to take your entrepreneurial dreams to the next level.
1. Understand your authentic voice and follow it.
To have your business cut through the noise of every other company selling to your target consumer, you have to understand what is unique about who you are, and follow your own path. Gary Vaynerchuk grew his family’s liquor business to $60 million in sales from $3 million before growing his VaynerMedia to a nine-figure business, in part, by knowing how to be the best version of himself. “You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them, or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it,” Vaynerchuck shared in an interview.
2. Master what you want to do.
A business idea is just a thought without research. Make sure you know everything about your business and its respective market so you can clearly deliver your vision to those you want to buy into it. Before Sean “P. Diddy” Combs launched Bad Boy Records in 1993, he interned at Uptown Records under the tutelage of music business impresario Andre Harrell and learned the game. “Any business I get into, I go and I do the proper studying, and I do the research to make sure I thoroughly understand that business,” Combs said in an Entrepreneur Magazine interview.
3. Budget everything.
Living within your means is one of the quickest ways to scale your business because then you’re not solely dependent on sales for growth. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter may rap about million-dollar watches and art pieces, but that’s because he’s become one of hip-hop’s first billionaires, and can afford his lifestyle multiple times over. “You can’t afford something unless you can buy it twice,” Carter said.
4. Take risks and learn from failure.
The best way to succeed is to fail because experience teaches you what risks you should take and how to mitigate losses. Amazon CEO/founder Jeff Bezos took a risk and started selling books online when brick-and-mortar stores ruled book sales, and took his lessons doing that to turn Amazon into the leading online marketplace that sells anything. “You have to be willing to take the risk. If you have a business idea with no risk, it’s probably already being done,” he said. “You’ve got to have something that might not work. It will be, in many ways, an experiment,” Bezos said at Amazon’s Re: Mars conference in 2019.
5. Save for a year before investing.
Being able to have enough saved up to cover your expenses for the year allows you to weather any unexpected storms without your operations halting, and you’re able to establish passive income through investments. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been able to get huge returns on early investments in Netflix and Amazon because of his savings method. “Once you’re able to save [for] a year of expenses, then you can start investing and putting it into something that can appreciate, like a low-cost mutual fund or the Standard and Poor’s Index,” Cuban shared in an interview.
6. Trust your gut.
Doubt will creep into your mind when your immediate reality doesn’t match your long-term goals. But your instincts are what guided you to be an entrepreneur and should remain central in all your decision-making. Oprah Winfrey trusting her gut and moving to Chicago in 1983 to host the low-rated half-hour morning talk show AM Chicago, led to her launching The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 and starting her multi-billion-dollar journey. “Your gut is your inner compass. Whenever you have to consult with other people for an answer, you’re headed in the wrong direction,” Oprah said in an interview.
7. Assemble a good team.
One of the first rules you have to learn as an entrepreneur is that you can’t do everything. You can either burn yourself out handling every aspect of your business, or you can leverage others’ expertise and open up more time for you to grow your company. Janice Bryant Howroyd became the first Black woman to build a billion-dollar company with ActOne Group by employing thousands of people in dozens of countries. “It always takes a team, and even if you are a company of one, there are people contributing to you in dynamic ways that are helping you along your journey,” Howroyd shared in an interview.