Owning a business can be fun – your ideas, your ways to implement them, your results. But it is also a big responsibility and a stress-generator that sometimes makes you wish you were working at an office. Of course, I know myself too well to even for a second think I could be happy in a cubicle, so running a business is my only option.
As someone who’s been dabbling in entrepreneurship since the age of 14, I’ve come to discover that entrepreneurial ability entails a very specific set of skills and a mindset. I’ve compiled my thoughts on what I think makes a good entrepreneur, spiced up with some of my own real-life experience.
- Act Upon It
“Sometimes it’s easy to have ideas, but somebody has to find a way to do it. Often those responsible for finding a way don’t have the idea.” – Karl Lagerfeld
More often than not, a good idea is hidden right under your nose.
An entrepreneur spots a niche and springs into action to produce a good or a service that will, hopefully, be profitable. I noticed that many people have that initial idea, that ‘light bulb above their head’, but few follow through. Just like many more perhaps have the opportunity to implement it, but not the idea. An entrepreneur has both, the idea and the drive to see it to completion.
For instance, I loved bright makeup but couldn’t find it in stores. I saw that people enjoyed my tutorials using intense colors and thought there was a good chance they’d like to buy them. Turns out, I was far from the only one obsessed with color!
- Be ready to make decisions, big and small
A business owner makes decisions which determine the direction of the company every day. Such decisions may range from simple ones (“Customers like product X – let’s make more of product X with additional variety”) to more difficult (“Product X bombed. How do we recover?”).
My example: One of the toughest decisions I had to make involved my lipstick formula. In order to keep the colors bright, we had to make it slightly softer than your standard lipstick. I was worried that customers wouldn’t like the unusually soft texture. I was relieved to find out most did in fact like it and some even described it ‘moisturizing’. I understand that not all my business decisions will be good (humans are error-prone after all) but I know I must continue making them, for better or worse.
Try new things, even though they may not work!
No matter how original your idea may be initially, if it’s a success be prepared to face competition sooner or later. Time and again I’m learning that the only way to say ahead is to continue innovating. I’ve seen many young entrepreneurs get devoured because they’ve failed to reinvent – when competitors popped up, they had nothing new to offer up their sleeve. A good entrepreneur is constantly on the look out for what to roll out next. The thing to remember about competition is that it’s not evil. It’s natural and only an indicator that you’re doing something right. So to stay afloat, be prepared to move onto the uncharted waters again and again.
My example: I knew I wouldn’t be at the frontier of the bright eyeshadow trend forever. Other companies began offering intense colors and about 6 months into my business, I decided it was time for our next move. I chose to make lipstick for the same reason I did eyeshadow – I couldn’t find one that’s opaque and in colors I wanted. It seemed like a great opportunity that was consistent with my own wishes and wants – an approach that has yet to fail me. Always listen to your instincts above all – even if they go against the ‘numbers’, they are your best guide!
- Be prepared to take risks
Taking on a risk is a big part of entrepreneurship and is the reason why so few people do it. You risk:
- Your time
- and of course, money! (Sometimes not just your own but others’ money as well.)
When I signed a contract with the factory to make 20,000 crazy-colored lipsticks, it seemed absolutely crazy. There was no telling for sure if I could ever move them (aside from a VERY enthusiastic response from my blog readers – thank you!). I understood the dangers of taking on the risk but did it anyway because as an entrepreneur, you must…
Believe in your idea
Having faith in your project means not giving up easily, even if things don’t go your way right away. It’s not about banging your head against the wall and doing the same thing over and over until you see different results, but finding different ways to achieve the same goal.
When a buyer at Henry Bendel’s told me to give them a call when I had more wearable colors, I found myself at the mental crossroads: on one hand, I was dying to give my customers an opportunity to try Lime Crime in person, on the other, I didn’t want to compromise my message. In the end, I decided to stick with the unusual colors – believing that somewhere along the line, someone will want to carry them. A few months later we got an offer from SpaceNK and the rest, as they say, is history!
There are so many things to enjoy about running your own business – getting to decide what product you’ll be rolling out next, how you’re going to market it, getting feedback. Most importantly, you get to be your own boss and do what you love every day! As friend of mine put it, “When your job is doing something you love, it’s no longer a job – it’s part of your life!”
Deerlings: Have you considered entrepreneurship? Have question? Please ask, I’m happy to answer!