Paved In Gold: How to Navigate the Path to Entrepreneurship

Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The lessons from failures along the way will build the foundation for your future success.

For someone just starting out on the road leading to entrepreneurship, the path ahead may appear to be paved in gold.

However, the reality is that while it may look fun and exciting, the path to entrepreneurship will be unimaginably stressful and painful.

Following it through will eventually result in meaningful success, but exceptional success requires unbelievable sacrifice.

Part of traveling the path will include the bolstering of your personal character. Becoming the person you want to be takes guts and determination. The businesses you build and the solutions you find to problems will be a reflection of the things that make you the person you are. That’s why you have to accept that failures are inevitable. 

Related Article: You’re Not an Entrepreneur (Yet), and That’s Okay

Where do you get the inspiration necessary to make this treacherous journey?

Personal Problems That Became Million Dollar Solutions

For many entrepreneurs, the ideas they came up with were simply solutions to problems they personally faced in their daily lives. For Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, the invention of the telephone was the result of a problem he faced at his school for the deaf in Boston. He saw the value of developing a telegraph that could send multiple messages at the same time. This would allow for a single wire to transmit multiple messages, which would make mass communication significantly faster.

From this simple idea, he realized during his experiments that the technology could be used to transmit voice over a telephone line. The inspiration for his tireless pursuit of scientific knowledge and invention sprouted from the communication barriers he experienced at his school.

The Importance of Building a System

If your end goal is to become obscenely wealthy, then your entrepreneurial pursuits will need to be directed towards building a scalable system. Dr. Bell made an invention that could be patented. His system was one where he would innovate a solution and then receive a royalty from the use of his patented solution.

Another example of a system can be found in the way franchising works in the fast food industry. It’s not about one person doing something in return for a fee. It’s about creating a system that can be easily reproduced. Create and maintain a system where other people can do things for a fee (or salary), while you keep the profits of their labor. The more people you bring into your system, the more of a service you’ll offer, and assuming the margins are profitable, you’ll make tons of money.

Create and maintain a system where other people can do things for a fee (or salary), while you keep the profits of their labor. The more people you bring into your system, the more of a service you’ll offer, and assuming the margins are profitable, you’ll make tons of money.

Related Article: Creativity Trumps All: The Makeup of an Entrepreneur

Building a Network of Mentors to Set a Living Example

While what you know is important, who you know is even more critical. Get out there and build a network of people with similar goals in life. Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people that are more successful than you are. You’ll see first-hand the things that make your mentors successful, and then learn to make those habits your own.

Start by searching online for small business meetups in your area. Once you find a group that peaks your interest, attend some of their meetings and make connections with the people in the group. Keep an ear out for the details of what’s helped others on the same path become successful. Offer details of your own journey, and others will likely reciprocate by telling you about their path to success.

People love to talk about themselves. The best entrepreneurs are the ones that do more listening than talking. It’s easy to find inspiration in the stories that are shared by other innovators.

Turning a Hobby Into a Revenue Stream

If you’re going to spend a massive chunk of your life doing something, it should be something that you love. If you’re mechanically inclined and love fixing things for people, then building a high-quality repair shop in town may be an avenue worth exploring. If you love reading, have you considered opening up a bookstore or creating a website that discusses literature? There’s a never-ending list of ways you can turn your hobbies into revenue streams.

If you love something, you’ll have an easier time pouring in the time and resources to make your business a success.

Related Article: 10 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read for Inspiration

Identifying Isolated, Underserved Markets

The key to any successful business is demand. Figure out what a community needs most and find a way to fulfill that need. For example, 1-800-GOT-JUNK was founded by a group of college friends that helped pay their way through college by helping their neighbors get rid of things that they didn’t need or want. They recognized a need in the community and spent their free time solving that need.

Then, once they gained experience in solving that need, they built a system for other people to help them take care of a growing client list. Today they own a national chain of junk removal franchises.

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