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5 Steps To Starting Your Entrepreneurial Journey

A recent survey of 18,000 professionals and students from 19 countries revealed strong interest in entrepreneurship  across Generations X, Y and Z. However, many struggle with translating these ambitions into enterprise.

There is no guaranteed formula to building a successful business; each individual has their own distinctive path. Yet, while personalities may be idiosyncratic, methods of thinking do not diverge as much.

Most successful entrepreneurs share basic traits that poise them for favourable outcomes. The following are five common patterns have been identified among them:

1. Do what you believe in

During his stint at Google, Adam Grant, one of Wharton’s top management professors and Fortune’s 40 under 40, was asked how to increase employee productivity and generate greater job satisfaction. His answer was simple: Just ask them what they want to do. The personal satisfaction and financial returns that you derive from your work will mirror the amount you invest in it. Amid late nights, exhaustion and setbacks along the way, an enduring passion will instil a natural drive to see your idea enter the marketplace.

It is difficult to channel considerable energy and resources into something that you do not see value in, and a sense of purpose cannot be taught. If you do not believe in what you are creating, it is unlikely that you will succeed.

2. Plan for success

While entrepreneurs are often depicted as having an appetite for risk, those who find success by way of indiscriminate investment are few and far between.

Business planning is crucial because it necessitates careful research and analysis to make informed decisions. As a secondary function, planning also compels you to set realistic targets and yardsticks, as well as engage in regular monitoring of your progress.

Planning ahead also involves learning from others, be it reading about the experiences of eminent business leaders or consulting your mentors. Assessing the dos and don’ts of your predecessors’ forays provides a good launching pad for your venture, and could save you from needless foundering.

3. Get your grit on

‘Grit’ seems to be the buzzword of the day, and for good reason. Many are charmed by the notion of being their own boss, but are unprepared for the demands of a new business. Stanford University professor of psychology Carol Dweck has pioneered the term "growth mindset”, a mentality crucial to demonstrating grit. A growth mindset attributes progress to the investment of time and energy, not the concept that an aptitude for success is innately wired. As noted by many business leaders, resilience functions like a muscle - it has to be built through frequent exercise. This Thomas Edison-type perseverance affords aspiring entrepreneurs a new outlook, or what Google’s Larry Page deems as a “healthy disregard for the impossible.”

4. Build your A-team

Some aspiring entrepreneurs have made the mistake of guarding their ideas jealously, failing to recognise that they need competent, committed people to make their idea a reality. Your team is the greatest executor of your vision, which makes it essential to invest in the right people. Look out for capable individuals known to elevate others - and, in turn, reward them for their contributions.

5. Pitch perfect

Have a remarkable idea? Great. Now, you have 60 seconds to convince others of its worth. Personal conviction and a good elevator pitch can take product selling to the next level. As with any business conception, the first form of marketing originates from its founder. Spend time learning how to share your vision in an engaging manner, and develop the confidence to ask for the sale.

As an aspiring student entrepreneur, pitching contests represent a good platform for you to hone pertinent skills. The P.A.K. Challenge, an annual inter-college pitching competition organised by SMU Eagles Inc., is one such avenue for you to refine your business ideas and gain exposure to a like-minded community.

SMU Eagles Inc. provides an entrepreneurial ecosystem that facilitates and develops business ideas in a supportive environment. If you are looking for a place to kick-start your own entrepreneurial journey - from ideation, design thinking to pitching - Eagles Inc. is looking to mobilise the next generation of entrepreneurs. Sign up as a member today.

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