Risky Business

FearAs I am counseling students intent on launching their own businesses, it’s interesting when I watch them develop their idea into a viable business venture, only to then learn they never took it to the next level and didn’t actually lunch the business. My research into why is generally anecdotal, but in many cases I have been able to isolate the reason: fear.

Fear is a powerful motivator. In the case of would-be entrepreneurs, fear may often be what separates the thinkers from the doers, the perpetual planners from the executors, the “would-be” from the true entrepreneurs. So why is that? My experience tells me that it is a combination of the fear of the unknown and the fact that actually taking that final step to launch a business carries a certain level of risk. In fact, by their very definition, entrepreneurs are risk takers.

In working with students and entrepreneurs, I have seen that fear comes primarily from a lack of knowledge, or at least a perceived lack of knowledge. Of course, as an educator my job is to ensure that our students acquire the business literacy necessary to develop and execute their business plan. But as the old saying goes: “It’s not the plan that’s important – it’s the planning.” The process of taking the time to think about all of the many things that go into launching a new business venture – it can be a bit overwhelming. But with information and knowledge comes confidence.

My tips for launching a successful business?

1. Start with the right business model. Entrepreneurs who think they can simply market their idea to the masses are doing it all wrong. Stop and take the time to find out what your customers want. Then give it to them. Duh!
2. Acquire the business literacy you will need to start a business. That can come from formal training in school or mentorship, but make sure that you have the tools and training you will need.
3. Don’t quit your day job! If it’s at all possible, ease into your business while you are still earning a paycheck. Once your business gains traction, then it’s time to cut the cord.
4. Start on a shoestring. Most businesses these days are not launched with funding from venture capitalists or even angel investors. They are launched by entrepreneurs who have cobbled together all the money they can and who have tapped friends and family for just enough money to get started. Once things are up and running and you can prove that your model is successful, then it’s time to look for the additional funding you may need to grow your business.
5. When you are ready, go for it! Take a risk. Chase your dream. Don’t let fear hold you back.

And one other thing… when you’re wildly successful, email me, would you? Don’t forget all of us little people that helped you make it to the top.

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One Response to Risky Business

  1. Ali Rey says:

    Hello Ron. I was one of your students about 2 years ago. I believe I was in the last finance class that you taught before you moved into the position over the Entertainment Business department. I’m earning my doctorate and I’m in a corporate finance course and I thought about the many things I learned from you, especially about investing. This weeks discussion in my current course is about how investors’ involvement in the organization shifts as the business grows. It made me think about my class with you. Loved this post, Thank you for these tips! It’s true that many of my peers have not actually went on to start the business we created on paper. However, me and another friend who graduated from the EBMS program are still working hard to get ours off the ground. He doing what he can with the studio he put together in his apartment and is gaining more and more clients. I tweak my business plan you all helped me to create with all of the business principles I am learning. Thanks! And God Bless!

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