Being an Entrepreneur

“I want to be a successful entrepreneur, but don’t know what product to sell to build a business. I am constantly going back and forth on which path to pursue”.

Deciding to be an entrepreneur?

Near every entrepreneur that ever lived has struggled with this very same challenge. Even the great thinkers of antiquity struggled all their life with self-doubt about what they wanted to be.

How can I be successful?

Well, ‘follow your dream’ and ‘dream big’!

These popular expressions in the entrepreneurial context generally mean: follow the opportunity and build scale for the business to create wealth.

Entrepreneurs often start out with a product, but in short time that product morphs into something different.

The market determines what it is going to buy, not what the entrepreneur wants to sell!

Four things to ask yourself:

  1. In all that I have done to date, what problem(s) have I experienced that need(s) a solution?
  2. What is your ‘big dream’ for a product the market will most probability respond to?
  3. Where in the market is there ‘white space’ (i.e., a gap between already existing products) that the market will respond to?
  4. What do I know that others don’t about the economy/market that will host a new idea (or profitable extension of an old one)?


  1. Conduct a comprehensive opportunity evaluation of the product (i.e., market research, break-even analysis to identify the scale necessary for a good R.O.E; do the financials and then create a strategic business plan);
  2. Join an entrepreneur support organization (or appoint a mentor) to access the wise counsel that will guide you in creating and growing the business;
  3. Everyone is going to be shouting in your ear: a) you’re going to become a billionaire – or b) you’re going to go bankrupt (nothing in-between)!;
  4. If you have conducted a comprehensive (and realistic) opportunity evaluation, then trust your judgement, sustain your confidence – take on the challenge; but
  5. Know when to quit (not too early – not too late). If the product is not gaining traction in the marketplace (and morphing won’t help) shut it down and move on – before bankruptcy!; and
  6. Never forget that if you have researched the opportunity well, no one knows the market and the business like you do. Don’t be put off by the uninformed naysayers!

Your best friends can be your worst enemies when trying to get to where you want to go! As helpful as they try to be, often the underlying driver for them is for you to do things like you always have. Otherwise the ‘friendship’ changes – and they don’t want that.

They will blow in your ear what/when/where and how you should do things. Only you know what you want to achieve, and how! Many have no experience in creating a profitable new business venture.

I know of one entrepreneur (let’s call him Blake) who did not speak to his best friend for 6 months because the friend was driving Blake to exasperation with instructions on how to build the business – most of which served the friend’s interests, not Blake’s.

Blake was emotionally exhausted, cognitively divided and tortured to the point where he just wanted to get employment and live a quiet life. This is not a unique experience as most entrepreneurs (successful or not) have experienced it at some time.

But, supportive friends with objective and wise counsel can be of enormous help!

Ruthlessly test ideas in your own mind, then test them against wise and experienced counsel, before acting.

All too hard?

The alternative is, go get a well-paid job and climb the corporate ladder!

Is there an unconscious guiding hand?

Have you ever been unclear where to go in your work life and how to get there, but somehow arrived at a desirable destination?

Somehow most of us have been successful at achieving something meaningful in life.

Maybe there is an unconscious guiding hand that has a life-plan for all of us.

Have you ever felt the guiding hand?

‘Listen’ to your day-to-day life-experiences (problems and all), then synthesize an opportunity or problem solution into a product; now create a business venture to commercialise the product.

Start from the end!

Think of a successful end-point (what problem would you like to fix, and would others also want a solution to this problem), work backwards and identify the steps necessary to get there.

Looking from the beginning and following the next obvious (or not so obvious) steps has taken many aspiring entrepreneurs down too many blind alleys with considerable time lost backtracking.

Think of your entrepreneur life as a train, before you step on it you should already know if it is going to your destination – otherwise you wouldn’t be on it!

Being an entrepreneur is the same – but with a twist! After jumping on the train you discover there is a newly constructed fork in the track. Hmm, now you gotta figure out Plan B.

Do you really want to be an entrepreneur?
If so, then riding the train up and down the track ain’t going to cut it!

2 thoughts on “Being an Entrepreneur

  • Jen,
    Thank you for the kind words. I hope my missives continue to resonate with you – and stir you to take that next step – and on the ‘right’ train to success.

    Comment from: Strategic Outcomes

  • Dr Priess,

    Thank you for another article of insight and guidance. Since I started reading your articles I’ve been finding myself reflecting more and more on the spirit of your topics throughout the week until the next article arrives.
    I have ” MBA” as a previous article questioned but find myself not fulfilled in just giving more to the employer and letting my dreams of entrepreneurship slip by. After reading this article I realize I have been ” Blake-a-z-ied”. I writing to you say thanks. I have found my way back to the train platform and am rekindling my ideas about ‘plan B.

    Jen – USA

    Comment from: Jen-USA

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