If you were to survey a group of entrepreneurs about why they started their business, I’m sure you would get a huge variety of interesting answers. Of course many of them will have been motivated by money, but I would bet that one of the most popular reasons would be a desire to create something meaningful for themselves.
The prospect of taking control of your own destiny and being your own boss is a powerful motivator. I personally spent years as a Wall Street trader but found that the money I earned and lost just became numbers that had very little meaning to me.
Chasing money felt like an empty pursuit, and deep down I really wanted to start and run my own business, be the boss, and build stuff that I could actually point at.
Having a vision of what you want to create through your business is, I believe, one of the three key requirements of being a successful entrepreneur, along with being a great leader and building a team. Put simply:
- To be an entrepreneur, you need to be a leader
- To be a leader, you need a team
- To build a team, you must share your vision
- All entrepreneurs have a vision
Unfortunately the path to achieving your business success is unlikely to be a straight line from A to Z. However, by having a clear vision of what your own Z looks like, you will be able to keep working towards it, regardless of the obstacles and challenges that come up during the course of the journey.
So how do you go about finding your vision, and making it a reality? Here are five actions to take:
1. Understand how opportunities are created
When you are starting a business you are inevitably hungry for success, so the temptation can be to throw all your energy and efforts into forcing things to happen.
It is important to remember, however, that often the genuine golden opportunities will only come your way in the right circumstances, regardless of how hard you push.
Sometimes, if your circumstances are not providing the opportunities you need, you may need to look at or change some things about your life, thereby changing your circumstances.
2. Where are you now?
Every entrepreneur faces their own unique set of circumstances. Take the time to look at your current situation by asking yourself the important question, “where are you now?”
If you push ahead with a business idea while ignoring your current circumstances you risk falling into a surprisingly common start-up trap.
If you fail to consider your circumstances and miss some crucial factors, you are always going to face an uphill battle, so focus on capitalising on the opportunities your circumstances provide.
3. Be patient
When you’re starting out in business, it can be frustrating to see things progressing too slowly. Of course you want your bright idea to become a success quickly, but it is important to be patient.
Unfortunately building a sustainable business is never straightforward, so it pays to be open-minded and take the time to carefully watch the market, competitors and even the people around you.
Only by doing this will you start to really understand the available opportunities and likely challenges you will face. Figuring out what really excites your imagination is a big step so it is worth spending time to get it right.
4. Write down your vision
Once you have taken the time to understand your circumstances and find your vision, give it time to sink in. Mull it over and see if it still excites you in a week or so. If it does, try writing it down into an exciting story.
Writing down the story of your vision will force you to fill in the gaps and think about all the things you may not have considered. More importantly, it will also help you to cement the vision clearly in your own mind, so you’re never in any doubt about what you are working towards and why.
5. Share your story
Don’t be shy – tell your story to others. Getting input from people you trust can be invaluable, and as you hone both your vision and your storytelling skills, you’ll find you can inspire a team to gather around you and your vision.
Some entrepreneurs get caught up in the idea that they need to be able to do everything, but it is important to remember that a leader is an architect, not a builder.
I have built over two million square feet of retail shopping center space, five hotels, countless restaurants and fast food chains, and the largest real estate company in Central and Eastern Europe. However, if you were to ask me how to pour cement, lay bricks or fit a kitchen, I’m afraid you would get pretty disappointing advice.
I know very little about these specific tasks, but that is fine. I had the vision and then I found the people to make it all happen – that’s the role of a leader.
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When I started out on my own journey as an entrepreneur I had no vision. I was taking steps along a path, but it was only when I had that vision of what I really wanted to do that everything became easy.
When I was able to write my vision down, and once I had the story clear in my own mind it was really easy for me to share that story.
I was excited about my vision, so other people got enthused too – and everything is easier when you have other good, motivated people working to make your vision a reality.
About the author
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Paul Oberschneider, a successful entrepreneur, angel investor, author and speaker. For more information go to PaulOberschneider.com
More on starting and running your own business
ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting and running a small business. Check out some of our most popular guides;
- 5 things you must do when you go self employed
- How to set up a limited company
- 10 advantages running your business as a limited company has over being a sole trader
- How to choose the best online accounting software for your business
- 15 Questions to ask when hiring an accountant for your new business
Leading a business
- How to be a leader rather than a manager
- Developing your startup’s greatest asset – YOU
- The Founder’s dilemma – Managing the transformation from start-up to growth business
- Building your resilience to help you cope with the ups and downs of starting and running your own business
- How to create your own support team and increase your startup’s chance of success
Going for growth
- 5 steps to kick-starting growth in your business
- How finding a great mentor could help you to grow, and your business to flourish
- Barriers to growth – how to identify them and how to overcome them
- How to avoid self-destruction and achieve your business goals
- The 4 Rs of getting more business from your existing customer base
Funding your business
- How to maximise your chances of securing a small business loan
- A Guide to ‘Alternative Finance’ – the new funding options for startups and small businesses
- Finding finance for your new business – funding advice for start-ups
- How peer-to-peer lending offers businesses a new funding option
- What to do when the bank says “NO”!
Money & Tax matters
- 10 ways small business owners can pay less tax
- Sole trader tax – a guide for start-ups and the newly self employed
- Dividend tax changes from April 2016 – A summary of the financial effects for small business owners
- ByteStart’s Guide to the main business taxes
- Corporation Tax – How to reduce your bill
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- Becoming an employer – Your responsibilities when you hire staff
- Health & Safety compliance for small businesses – where do you start?
- A Guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners
- Why it’s vital you have clear ‘Terms & Conditions’ for your business