There's no question that some people are natural born entrepreneurs. They generate business ideas, have the instincts and motivation to follow through on them and easily move on to success.
But if you're not one of those lucky ones, it doesn't mean you must work for someone else all your life. You can learn to be an entrepreneur, claims Michael Houlihan, co-author along with Bonnie Harvey of tThe Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand.
"It all comes down to foundational knowledge and hard work. And if you're open minded and willing to listen to the voice of experience, you can learn the guiding principles that play a role in building successful businesses-and have a major advantage particular classroom.
Following are some tips from their book and research to help you get started in your own business:
Always ask yourself, how would I like this?
When you start your own business, you'll quickly learn that there's no class, book, case study, or industry standard that always gives you a clear answer to One Big Question: Will this choice sustain and grow my business? However, there is a simple formula that rarely steers you wrong. Your grandmother called it "The Golden Rule." Your mother said, "Put yourself in the other person's shoes." Today, Houlihan and Harvey ask, "How would you like it?"
Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
We all tend to think that we can do more than we actually can. As a result, we're overscheduled, overtired, over stimulated, and overwhelmed. In the business world, this tendency to be "over" causes us to blow our skill sets, our capabilities, and even our products and services out of proportion. That's why Houlihan and Harvey recommend that you work with a third party who knows you very well.
Become a leader in your own category.
There was a time before terms like "social network," "iPhone," and "Google it" were used. So today, Harvey and Houlihan encourage entrepreneurship students to create their own terms, define their own niches, and be leaders in their own new categories. Doing so can distinguish your company and lead your product to success.
As an (probably cash-strapped) entrepreneur, at times you may be tempted to cut corners in order to save a minute, a hassle, or a buck. Don't. Remember, most consumers look for products and services that provide good value for the price. If you want to gain your customers' loyalty, you have to offer them exactly that-and you need to make sure that they have consistently positive experiences with your company.
Know the difference between customer service and complaint resolution.
These days, most companies have anything ranging from one person to a whole department dedicated to so-called "customer service." But in reality, many of these departments should be called "complaint resolution," because that's what happens: Customers express their displeasure, representatives try to resolve the problem as soon as possible (often relying on a script), then move on.