How to become an Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur is someone who starts a new venture and assumes full responsibility for it. They bring together all resources required to start an enterprise and deploy such resources to create wealth. They reap the profits from the resultant activity or conversely suffer the loss that the business attracts.

1. Have a Clear Cut Business Model

The first step towards becoming an entrepreneur, regardless of the location, is developing a clear-cut business model. The core of any entrepreneur activity is selling any product or service. Make sure to have a clear idea on what to sell, the targeted market, how to sell, the resources or supporting infrastructure required to sell, the proposed organisational set up that would provide the framework for the business, and the time and commitment required from each person involved in the business to undertake their respective activities. Understand the investment required, arrange for the required funds and have a projected cash flow model to set financial targets and evaluate performance.

2. Analyse Strength and Weakness of the Model

Anyone can dream up ideas, but what distinguishes an entrepreneur from others is the ability to conjure up workable and feasible ideas and give concrete shape to such abstract ideas. For instance, some ideas may sound good in theory, but the proposed business activity may not have any market or buyers. Something that a would-be entrepreneur wants to do but does not have market potential is more a hobby rather than a serious business preposition. Conducting market surveys, benchmarking with existing businesses, accessing project reports of other businesses or proposals and networking are common ways to find out whether an idea would actually work.

Entrepreneurship requires identifying strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of the proposed business model. A successful entrepreneur takes advantage of the opportunities by leveraging on the strengths, try to sidestep or work around the weakness and takes due precautions against threats. This required good analytical skills, ability to see the big picture and foresight.

Identifying a workable business model requires a thorough scan of the business environment. For instance, recession has hit many businesses hard, and this makes starting any new business a daunting preposition. However, a careful survey of the state of the economy in London during recession would reveal that some sectors such as tourism actually thrived even during the recession period.

3. Equip with Necessary Skills and Traits

Passion, persistence, focus and responsibility are four must-have traits for an entrepreneur. Having made a choice, an entrepreneur has no option but to commit fully to the task on hand. Employees have the option to quit when things go wrong, but an entrepreneur has to see through the bad times.

Skill wise, the entrepreneur needs to lead from the front and this requires managerial, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills, besides considerably energy and ability to multi-task. The entrepreneur needs a high level of technical expertise on the core business activity and good business management skills to supervise and coordinate the various business activities. They also need to keep abreast of latest developments and trends pertaining to the industry.

The entrepreneur also needs to remain flexible, have an open mind and be receptive to ideas, and inculcate a willingness to innovate and take risks.

London, being a traditional business city, offers a wealth of support to entrepreneurs. The Barking and Dagenham Small Business Centre supports businesses in the Barking and Dagenham area by offering free and impartial knowledge on various aspects related to starting and managing a business. Enterprise Enfield, a non-profit business advisory organisation helps entrepreneurs in Enfield and throughout North London by offering business advice, platforms to network, access to low cost premises, and by conducting knowledge enhancing seminars. The 'Gateway to Finance' programme run by the East London Small Business Centre help entrepreneurs across not only East London but all 33 London Boroughs to start, grow or expand, mainly by arranging finances.

4. Arrange for the Required Resources

Having equipped oneself for an entrepreneur career, the next big thing is to arrange for the required resources. Finance is the most crucial resource, for with adequate funds acquiring other resources becomes easy. Entrepreneurs invest their own wealth, seek investment from venture capitalists or other investors or take loans from bank and financial institutions.

Entrepreneurs in London enjoy the advantage in government support when it comes to funding their business ventures. The 'Small Loans for Businesses' scheme support small and medium businesses by offering loans up to £50,000. The 'Enterprise Finance Guarantee' supports entrepreneurs refused loans from banks for want of collateral. Business plans that create jobs become eligible for 'Grant for Business Development (GBI)' to acquire assets. The Grant for Research and Development makes available special grants to entrepreneurs who promote innovative products.

The road to entrepreneurship is full of uncertainties and strewn with many challenges, but success beckons those willing to accept the challenge and create order from a fluid and uncertain environment.