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5 Steps to Become an Entrepreneur

Author: Matthew Taylor

Entrepreneurship has been romanticized over the better half of the 21st century. With the rise of companies such as Google and Facebook, both of which made the founders wildly successful, people are enamored with the idea of becoming entrepreneurs.

Unlike a traditional career path where there is a defined path to the next step, the path to entrepreneurship is mystifying to most. What works for one entrepreneur might not work for the next and vice versa. That said, there are five general steps that most, if not all, successful entrepreneurs have followed:

1. Ensure Financial Stability

This first step is not a strict requirement but is definitely recommended. While entrepreneurs have built successful businesses while being less than financially stable - think of Mark Zuckerberg as a college student - having strong financial stability can only help an entrepreneur. This is due to the fact that strong personal finances allow an aspiring entrepreneur to increase his personal runway and give him more time to work on creating a successful business. In addition, with the high stress of becoming an entrepreneur, having a personal runway of capital allows an aspiring entrepreneur to focus on building a business rather than worrying about making quick money.

2. Build a Diverse Skill Set

Once a person has strong personal finances in the form of a cash runway, it is important to build a diverse set of skills and then apply those skills in the real world. The beauty of step two is it can be done concurrently with step one.

Building a skill set can be achieved through learning and trying new tasks in real-world settings. For example, if an aspiring entrepreneur has a background in finance, he can move into a sales role at his existing company to learn the soft skills necessary to be successful. Once a diverse skill set is built, it gives an aspiring entrepreneur a toolkit that he can rely on when he is faced with the inevitability of tough situations.

3. Consume Content Across Multiple Channels

As important as building a diverse skill set is for an aspiring entrepreneur, so is the need to consume a diverse array of content. This content can be in the form of podcasts, books, articles or lectures. The important thing is that the content, no matter the channel, should be diverse in what it covers. This is because as an aspiring entrepreneur, a person should always familiarize himself with the world around him so he can look at industries with a fresh perspective, giving him the ability to build a business around a specific industry.

4. Identify a Problem to Solve

Through the consumption of content across multiple channels, an aspiring entrepreneur is able to identify various problems to solve. The adage of business is a company's product or service needs to solve a specific pain point, either for another business or for a consumer group. Through the identification of a problem, an aspiring entrepreneur is able to build a business around solving that problem.

It is important to combine steps three and four so it is possible to identify a problem to solve by looking at various industries as an outsider. This provides an aspiring entrepreneur with a fresh perspective and allows him to see a problem others might not.

5. Add Value in That Problem Area

The fifth and final step to becoming an entrepreneur is to add value within the problem that was identified in step four. Stated previously, successful businesses solve a specific pain point for other businesses or consumer groups; they do this by adding value to those businesses or consumers.

If, for example, it is identified the process for booking a dentist appointment is complicated for patients and dentists are losing customers, the value could be to build an online appointment system that makes it easier for patients to book appointments. Only through adding value to solve a specific problem or pain point, does an entrepreneur become successful.

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