Are You an Entrepreneur

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Are You an Entrepreneur?

I was asked a question by a reader of my article, “Fable of Felix the Frog.” The hub ends with the conclusion that not every premise or Idea (or frog) will fly. (Read the article if my mention of the frog confuses you.)

The question was:” How can one know if the idea will fly, especially when it is different? Just today … (we) were discussing several ideas. I know they are doable, but will they fly? Is it all in the marketing and/or contracts? Is it something more?”

This question so intrigued me I decided to share some of what I have learned about starting a new project or marketing a new business whether service or product. It is the same advice I gave my coaching clients when they lost jobs they had held for most of their lives, and decided that now was the perfect time to become entrepreneurs – to be in charge of their own destiny.

Entrepreneurial Test

But first, do you think you are cut out to be an entrepreneur? Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? Entrepreneur meaning one who organizes and assumes the risk of a business or enterprise. Let’s find out.

Take this very short test, “Are You Really an Entrepreneur?” Read each statement and give yourself a “1” if you strongly disagree with it; a “3” if you sometimes agree; and a “5” if you strongly agree.

1) I get personally involved in whatever I do.

2) I have started businesses before, even as a child.

3) There are entrepreneurs in my family.

4) I can devote whatever time and/or energy to my enterprise necessary to make it work.

5) I am a zealot about details.

6) I have first-hand knowledge of the market/niche I am interested in.

7) I have experience selling to my most likely customers.

8) I am committed to doing whatever it takes to succeed. Nothing will stand in my way.

Now, add up the numbers you selected for each statement.

35-40 You have a strong, entrepreneurial profile.

30-35 You have definite, entrepreneurial talent.

22-30 You have some entrepreneurial traits, but aren’t absolutely certain that you are committed to the idea.

Less than 22 Carefully weigh your decision. Get more hands-on experience in the field you’re interested in. Consider taking on a partner with entrepreneurial expertise.

Do you want to know what I really believe about your score on this test? It doesn’t matter in my mind if you scored a “5” on the first seven questions if you didn’t score a “5” on question number 8. Read that question again. If you don’t have passion for your idea and are prepared to do whatever it takes, then your idea cannot fly; you are clipping its wings.

Now that you’ve learned you have entrepreneurial talent and passion, is your idea “doable”? In business, as in life, there are no guarantees. There is no way on earth to eliminate every single risk associated with starting a new business or a new venture.

But you can improve the odds – your chances of success – if you can answer yes to the following questions:

1. Am I a self-starter? Will I be able to conduct market research, develop projects, organize my time and follow through on endless details?

2. Can I make decisions quickly and possibly under pressure?

3. Do I/we have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? New ventures can burn you out quickly if your motivation/passion isn’t strong enough.

4. Am I effective at planning and organizing? Research has shown that poor planning is often responsible for many business failures.

5. If applicable, will I be able to deal with demanding customers/clients and unreliable vendors?

6. Will a new venture affect my family? If necessary, can I/we adjust to a lower standard of living?

Shawn Nelson
Shawn Nelson
the original LoveSac
See all 3 photos
the original LoveSac

LoveSac

True Story Number One –an example of an idea that flew even further than its creator ever dreamed.

At the age of 18, Shawn Nelson was your typical couch potato. In fact he was watching TV – on his couch – when he realized he wasn’t very comfortable. In fact, his couch was very uncomfortable. He thought about creating some sort of “huge-beanbag-thing” that would be way more comfortable and fun to own.

So he got up off his uncomfortable couch and went to a fabric store where he bought 14 yards of vinyl. He cut this huge piece of vinyl into a baseball shape and spent about three weeks filling it with all the soft material he could find. He named his soft baseball-looking piece of furniture which was seven feet wide the LoveSac. All his friends and neighbors tried it out and loved it

They started placing orders so Shawn decided to start a company almost as a joke. With unpaid help from his friends, he manufactured LoveSacs in the basement of his parents’ home and sold them wherever people congregated: the drive-in theater, sporting events, and trade shows. He sold whatever he made but didn’t make a fortune.

Then he received a phone call that changed his life. A company was looking for a back-to-school product for its Limited Too stores and asked if Shawn could supply 12,000 LoveSacs. Shawn remembers that he told them, “12,000? No problem; that’s what we do.” It was a $250,000 order. He built a small factory amassing $50,000 debt on his credit card. He worked 19-hour days and slept at the factory. He finished the order on time but he says, “It just about ate up all our profits.”

Then he had an inspiration. Why not open a mall furniture store that would look like an upscale chain. Even before it was a chain. It paid off. With more than 55 stores, about half of them franchised, LoveSac soon had sales of over $30 million a year.

Epilogue: In 2006, LoveSac went bankrupt. I can only speculate on the cause but I believe there were two major reasons. The product was overpriced and too many knockoffs were available for less. Customers bought the lower priced brand to save $100 instead of paying the price for the LoveSac brand name. And the chain had expanded to 74 stores – perhaps too many too quickly.

Michael Ames, the author of “Small Business Management ,” writes that many small businesses fail for the following reasons: lack of experience; insufficient capital; poor inventory management; poor credit arrangements; personal use of business funds; competition; and low sales. The latter two may have been the cause for LoveSac’s “losing its wings.”

Here are the first steps to follow when you are following your “doable” dream:

1. Conduct your market research. In real estate, it’s location, location, location. Before starting a new venture, it’s research, research, research. Ask friends and family members their opinions about your idea. Be careful not to divulge details – just the big picture.

2. Prepare a business plan, covering projected sales, employees needed, etc. It can be a simple plan but it’s a necessary roadmap.

3. Prepare a financial forecast as part of your plan so you will have some idea of what the start-up and day-to-day cost will be for your new business. Where will the money come from?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail in the first year and 95% fail within the first five years. Not very promising, is it? But you can be successful if you are willing to work hard and be patient. Because despite those statistics, here are the advantages:

1. You will be your own boss.

2. Hard work and long hours will directly benefit you, not someone else.

3. Earning and growth potential are far greater.

4. A new venture can be as exciting as it is risky.

5. Running a business provides endless challenge and opportunities.

Risky Businesses You Should Avoid

Some types of businesses carry more risk and should be avoided. Here are a few examples:

> Hazardous materials are involved such as dry cleaning solvents or photographic chemicals, or hazardous processes, such as welding or operating heavy machinery

> Manufacturing / selling edible goods

> Building / repairing structures or vehicles

> Repairing items of value, such as automobiles or antiques

> Caring for children or animals

> Providing / allowing access to alcohol

> Providing activities that may result in injury such as weightlifting or skateboarding, etc.

Note: If your proposed business will face risks like those I have listed, then consider whether business insurance will provide adequate protection. If liability insurance (which can be expensive) can’t cover all the risks involved, think about forming a corporation or a LLC which will protect your personal asserts from claims and judgments against your business.

There are also some types of businesses that are particularly susceptible to competition. I’m thinking restaurants, book stores, video rental stores, movie theaters, grocery stores, and Internet/computer service providers. But these businesses can survive and develop a loyal following if you can fill a niche market and provide personalized service

What kind of business should I start?

Only you know the answer because there are so many choices. But to maximize your success, do this:

Choose something you enjoy doing. It’s much harder and a lot less enjoyable to become successful in a small business that doesn’t really interest you.

Choose a business you already know a lot about. It might be fun to open a bakery selling only a wide array of cupcakes but if your baking experience is confined to making cupcakes that come out of a Duncan Hines box, forget it. Yes, you can learn how to run a new business but choose something in line with your expertise that has a good chance to turn a profit.

Starting a business can be scary. But great rewards await entrepreneurs lucky enough to create successful small businesses -- benefits you may miss out on if you remain a wage earner for the rest of your life. But only you can decide if you and your idea will fly.

Craig Newmark
See all 3 photos
Craig Newmark
Craigslist Headquarters
See all 3 photos
Craigslist Headquarters

Craigslist

True Story Number Two – an example of an idea that didn’t just fly – it soared.

In 1995, a fellow named Craig Newmark decided to start an email list as a hobby and community service to help his friends in San Francisco learn about the city’s busy arts and technology scene.

The list turned into the classified ad giant, Craigslist. It still uses the “dot.org” domain because as Craig states: “It symbolizes the non-corporate-culture of craigslist.”

Every month Craigslist gets 20 billion page views – that’s 20 billion – and 40 to 50 million new classified ads. 50 million people in the U.S. alone search the site to find stuff, find romance, or find a job.

The site is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. There are now more than 700 local sites in 70 different countries.

Craig says, “I learned how important customer service is, and how largeness in organizations leads to dysfunction.

"For example, in a hierarchy, you get ahead by telling your boss what he or she wants to hear; then he or she tells his or her boss what they want to hear.” In 2004, eBay acquired 25% of the equity in craigslist.

I found it interesting that Craig’s title on his business card does not say, “Founder.” It reads: “Customer Service Representative.” Guess that says it all.

So, if you have the mindset of an entrepreneur and the passion and motivation to create a business to make your doable idea fly – go for it. After you do your market research, your business plan and your financial forecast. May your business idea turn into a Craig’s list and not a Shawn’s loss!

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011, 2013 Rev. All rights reserved.

B. J. Rakow, Author, Much of What You Know about Job Seach Just Ain't So." An enlightening book about job search with the facts about interviewing, negotiating, networking, and creating a powerful resume. 


 Last updated on June 7, 2013

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Comments for Are You an Entrepreneur? 36 comments

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Drbj..Very valuable information for anyone thinking of starting their own business!..and all right here in one hub. My husband and I ventured out years ago with only our talent our organizational skills and a willingness to visualize our success. We also decided to stay small. I think that was the best thing we could have done.


Property-Invest profile image

Property-Invest 4 years ago from London

Thanks for the great hub, especially the entrpreneur test, I think I just got 92%! But there certainly is a structure to testing whether a business will fly or sink; thanks for the tips.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Green Lotus - I am happy to anounce you have just received the A.I.M.H. award for being the first person to comment - and positively - on my hub.

You are so right about the benefits of keeping a small business a manageable size. Too many entrepreneurs find it difficult to learn that lesson.

The A.I.M.H. award? Alwlays In My Heart.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Property-invest - thank you for the visit and you're most welcome for the tips. 92%? That makes you an entrepreneur of the first order.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago Level 3 Commenter

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this hub. Though I do not have the making of an entrepeur, my family has quite a few (my brothers), I agree with your tips. I'm too afraid and too much loving the soft life to give it up. However, I'm currently entertaining the idea of setting up a website to write personalized poems for all occasions. Do you think it will fly?

Anyway, how about the Craig's list guy?--so humble--I love his philosophy. Thank you so much--I absolutely love this hub!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Hi, anginwu. So nice to hear from you again.

Your plan to write personalized poems for all occasions for customers sounds like an interesting idea. It will fly if you take the time to market it everywhere! Use Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon and all the social networking sites you can find to advertise this service before you invest any money.

That way you'll find out if it merits investment. Don't be afraid to take that small risk. It's the only way you will know.

Craig is an unusually pleasant person in a very frenetic environment. And a great example of hard work paying off.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago Level 1 Commenter

I scored 30 on the first test and answered "yes" to all the questions that followed. I have vast experience as an entrepreneur. Your article is excellent. I enjoyed reading it and believe it to be needful and beneficial. Thanks.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 4 years ago from USA Level 2 Commenter

Hi Doc bj - LoveSacs and Craigslist, plus Felix the Flying Frog - what a nifty combination of daring and enterprise. As you said, some start off at an early age, and others wait and hang around for a time. As to Felix the Flying Frog, he is one of a tribe that starts to fly immediately upon exiting their little egg balloons so as to jump out of their trees without even a pilot's license or any gas yet in the tank. This was a fun article. Thanks.

Gus :-)))


callentx profile image

callentx 4 years ago

Great hub very informative.


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 4 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Thank you so much for writing this! This article has been a real eye opener for me. I have been part of four business that fall under your 'risky' business heading, and if I were in need of starting a company, would have started there. It is what I know. I am seeing that it is the unknown that will make or break a business. Improper planning and a lack of organization. Not knowing who to talk to when something needs to change.

The fact that Craig of Craigslist calls himself a Customer Service Representative speaks volumes.

I will definitely be back to read this again.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Hi, James, Thank you for the "needful" and "beneficial" comment. It's really nice to be "needed" and of "benefit."

I would use the same adjectives to describe your hubs - I almost always learn something from them.

I'm curious. What were some of your entrepreneurial activities? You can email me via the contact button.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Thanks, Gus, for reminding me of Wallace's Frogs (named after their discoverer) who are larger than the average frog and do glide from tree to tree in the rainforests in southeast Asis.

But I purposely did not mention that as it nmight detract from Felix' inability to emulate them.

Think I'll write a future hub about them. They are not weird animals - like my other weird animal hubs - but they are definitely exotic.

Happy you enjoyed the hub.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Hi, callentyx.

Nice to meet you. Thank you for visiting and the kind comment. Hope to see more of you. Figuratively, that is.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Ivorwen - this hub is dedicated to you and frogdropping.

I am delighted that your found the information useful and hope it leads to success in any entrepreneurial venture you may begin.

Customer service - no, make that customer satisfaction - is one of the most important ingredients in any business. It can be the difference between success and failure. Craig of craigslist knows that firsthand.


jacobkuttyta profile image

jacobkuttyta 4 years ago from Delhi, India

Good lessons with case study.

Thanks


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

My pleasure, Jacob.

I have found that a case study or two makes statements and explanations more believable and credible.


EllenGraeger profile image

EllenGraeger 4 years ago from Madrid

This article is a motivational push for any entrepreneur. And the couch potato story is really engaging. Thank you, drbj.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

You are most welcome, EllenGraeger, thank you for the kind words and the visit.

Given the shape of the U.S. economy today and the extended time frame involved before complete recovery, it's no surprise to me that so many people want to work in and own their own business.

But first budding entrepreneurs need to know if they are really entrepreneurs with passion and commitment or just dreaming.


wrenfrost56 profile image

wrenfrost56 4 years ago from U.K.

Another great hub, I have some traits but not enough. Great advice and examples, shame the lovesac guy took on too much too soon. Very much enjoying your work. :)


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Hello, wren, if you have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur - and you scored a "5" on question #8, then do some more research and by all means, when you are ready, go for it.

Being in charge of your own destiny is scary but also one of the most wonderful feelings you can have.

You're absolutely correct about LoveSac - he "flew too close to the sun."

Thanks for the very nice comments.


Chris Crow profile image

Chris Crow 4 years ago

Great article! I enjoyed the part about LoveSac. I've been looking for info about this company, so thanks.


Don Simkovich profile image

Don Simkovich 4 years ago from Pasadena, CA

I like your 5 assessment questions. The LoveSac story is a well-calculated risk. While the orders seem to be wrapped up when he amassed the debt, nevertheless I wonder what he would have done if the company came back and changed their minds. From my lack of knowledge, it seems like your assessment on why they went bankrupt is accurate.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Nice to meet you, Chris Crow. Thank you for visiting. Delighted I could provide you with some info about Love Sac. They were expanding like gangbusters until copycat products started to flood the market.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Always delighted to have you visit, Don. The assessment questions usually separate those who THINK they want to be entrepreneurs from those who KNOW they want to be entrepreneurs.

I think the Love Sac saga echoes that old saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one sac," or something like that.


 
toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 3 years ago Level 1 Commenter

Hi drbj,

Thanks for letting me know about this hub. I am putting a link on my hub "Moneymatic - The Realities of Being in Your Own Business". This is a great article, filled with lots and lots of useful information. Rated up and awesome.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Thank you, tki, your appreciative comments are most welcome and I have linked to your informative and useful hub as well. Hopeful entrepreneurs need all the help they can get.


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 3 years ago from Los Angeles

One of the shows I most enjoy on TV is "Shark tank"; not only because it tells us how succesful people think and look at business opportunities, but also because is funny.

Some of the ideas people have for starting a business are just off the wall, but some are very interesting.

Your article is just great for whoever is considering getting into business for themselves; I started mine 28 years ago and I am making a good living at it, but never really made it big; I love the flexibility of being my own boss, but never dedicated my every hour to it - you are right again - I only scored 26 (the rest is in my HP score:-)))


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

I like watching 'Shark Tank,' too, Petra, and I am usually rooting for the entrepreneurs who are the most passionate about their product even when their ideas may seem off the wall.

Without passion - and a wonderful product or service, of course - it is almost impossible to suceed. I have always enjoyed being my own boss, too, whenever I could squeeze it in together with everything else in my life.

Don't be discouraged, having the rest of the numbers in your Hubscore, is not a bad thing. And circumstances change - as well you know - who knows what tomorrow brings? Take care.


Ferdinand1987 profile image

Ferdinand1987 3 years ago

Thanks you, this is encouraging entrepreneurship among, in fact in contribution to this great answer post to the question Are you an Entrepreneur, it would be nice to help answer the question here http://whoisanentrepreneur.com


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

You are welcome, Ferdinand. Since I included the link to your article in your comment, I would appreciate your linking to my hub as well. Thank you.


Aquino2010 3 years ago

I can verify and proudly attest to the "couch potato" story... I used to work for ShawnyD in his Pittsburgh Market. Great guy to work for, great company to work for, and I look forward to going back. I had to leave due to relocation orders given by my husbands command. We are military. Can't wait to get back to the mainland, and hopefully utilize my degree with the LoveSac family once again... thanks for posting him as the top story!!!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Hub Author

Nice to meet you, Aquino. Thank you for confirming the LoveSac story. That must have been an interesting place to work. Hope you all get back to the mainland safe and sound. It was my pleasure to include Shawn's story as he is a marvelous example of a creative entrepreneur.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from ke Level 5 Commenter

Not only is this very important info for those who will become entrepreneurs but it is a very interesting read. I am an entrepreneur of a different sort---passionate about many things but now that I am retired I am not seeking to begin a new business---enough irons in the fire for now. But I know many who will benefit from this so am sending it along to them.

Thanks for sharing....have a lovely lovely weekend.

Angels are on the way :) ps


drbj profile image

drbj 20 months ago from south Florida Hub Author

Thank you, Patricia, for your praise-filled comments. As an innate entrepreneur (temporarily retired), I knew you would appreciate this information. And I do appreciate your loyal attendance and your sharing.


Ruby H Rose profile image

Ruby H Rose 18 months ago from Northwest Washington on an Island Level 2 Commenter

Thumbs up and shared. That is what I do best. I love devouring all this juicy helpful information. To put it into practice? Oh, thank you for the questions, answers, and key examples of just what it takes. I sit comfortably in the middle, ha.


drbj profile image

drbj 18 months ago from south Florida Hub Author

Nice to meet you, Ruby. Being in the middle is not so bad - it means you are closer to the top ... and success. Thanks for the thumbs up and sharing.

Good luck.

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