Maybe you have a great business idea but don’t have a lot of capital to fund that next big thing. There is still plenty you can do to get the ball rolling, start building out your idea into a viable business, and make sure you are prepared when the time comes to be funded.
Anyone can have a great idea, but the ability to execute that idea into something that others want to buy is a completely different thing. Most entrepreneurs have not actually trained to be one; instead, they often quit their regular jobs and wing it, figuring they will learn as they go. I certainly can say I pretty much took that route.
Now that I reflect on the journey, I know it would have been more effective to get in some training on how to be an entrepreneur before pursuing funding and turning my first idea for a business into a company. It might have helped clear some of the obstacles I faced earlier on, saved some time and money, and helped prepare me for better execution and management.
Here are some ways to train on how to be an entrepreneur…
1. Take business and financial management classes
You may not have learned these skills yet in your present job or even in your personal life. These are critical skills to have in place before becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur because they provide the necessary framework for smarter business decisions that can impact the health and sustainability of your future company.
For my own business, it also helped that I took classes related to the technology side of the business, including coding, just to know enough to be dangerous. While you don’t necessarily need to get a business degree, it doesn’t hurt to take the time to learn theory and application. Many universities now offer classes in entrepreneurship that could prove beneficial for your future plans.
2. Get out of debt (if you are in it)
While working your way out of debt, determine what behaviors got you there to begin with and work on changing those habits to become more prudent with how you spend your resources and what you have rather than spending what you don’t really have. You may incur some debt in terms of obtaining funding in the form of loans or an angel investment, but learn how to manage this debt effectively before you are in it.
3. Find a mentor
Work with someone who has been there and done that in terms of starting and operating a business, preferably in your field. They can assess your strengths and weaknesses that could impact your role as an entrepreneur. Once your mentor has this assessment, they can offer recommendations on what you need to improve and where you can get assistance within these areas if they cannot directly help you.
A mentor can also connect you to others who may be interested in helping you develop your business idea while also assisting you with ramping up your networking expertise. These mentors are often more objective than you can be and they can spot problems earlier and address issues they see in you tied to your mental perception that may hinder future success as an entrepreneur. Think of this mentor as a coach who gets you out on the playing field to practice well before you start your first game of the season.
4. Do your research
Even after you have a business up and running, research will continue to be necessary, including studying your audience, marketplace, trends and competition. Doing this research in advance of taking the plunge into entrepreneurship becomes good training for what will be an ongoing process once your idea becomes a fully formed business.
Preparing in advance will also provide a better picture of the viability of your idea and whether you should proceed or pivot toward a new direction. This research can also help you identify the best free resources for marketing, advertising, and overall business operations as well as provide insights on geographical areas that may be more suited for your startup plans.
5. Start in on the sweat equity
I never worked as hard as I did to get that first business going. At the time, it required more effort because I was not a known commodity among investors and had to essentially bootstrap my business.
This meant doing pretty much everything myself, including cold calling, customer support, billing and accounting and even some coding. In training for that role, it’s a good idea to start in with the sweat equity well in advance so you get used to working longer days and months on end to achieve what you have been dreaming about. This whole process taught me a lot about how I could do more with fewer resources, which continues to be a valuable skill that I have applied to every startup since.
Limited capital can actually be a good thing because it forces you to wait a bit longer. And, in that time, you can get in some essential training on what it means to be an entrepreneur rather than rushing into it and learning on the fly. Even with training, there will be stress and challenging times, but that will always be part of being an entrepreneur. One good thing is that you are more prepared when those times do come because you have gained some ninja skills in entrepreneurship, leadership, and business development and management.