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Thinking about becoming an Entrepreneur? A few things to think about...

Nikki Pahliney

Amazon Security EMEA Hiring Leader | Talent Strategist and Life-Long Learner

May 16, 2016

Ever feel like you’ve come to a point in your career where you just can’t anymore? You are bored with the status quo, you are tired of being someone else’s lackey or maybe you really just don’t feel like you are reaching your potential; you feel like you could be doing so much more with your life!


We all hit those points in our careers. There is a sense of frustration, lack lustre and overall unwillingness to get your butt out of bed. Some people are motivated to change, whether pursuing a job or taking the ultimate leap of becoming their own boss. However, sadly, the majority stay where they are for fear of the unknown. 


In today’s economy taking a risk is becoming increasingly riskier. Daily I read and post about market crashes and corporate crises around the globe. Big companies are knocking little companies out of the market, whilst concerns around organisations not doing ethical business can very well force a major company, which may employ many, many people, to close its doors. The cycles between recessions are becoming shorter and the safety and security of a corporate job (on the South African landscape at least) is becoming akin to the same level of insecurity of contracting.


But, in all that chaos there are still incredible prospects. After all, no matter what your idea as a budding entrepreneur, people (aka your potential customers) will still need to eat, sleep, work, use the bathroom (yep - lots of money to made from toilet paper!), exercise (some…), communicate and purchase numerous goods and services to get by. There is always opportunity. Sometimes you get lucky and identify a need right away, but most of the time becoming an entrepreneur takes time and much trial and error until you find your niche.


So, if you are thinking about making the jump I believe you need to get your mind to the right space. Being an entrepreneur is an exciting business, but it is also unbelievably tough. You need to really think about things and do your homework before flying blindly into the unknown. Here I’ve included a couple of pointers to start thinking about. I like to think of these questions as the essential prompts to developing your business plan! After all, failing to plan is planning to fail.  


1. What is it that I want to offer and is there a need?

Before jumping onto any crazy bandwagon you need to make sure that the concept you believe will set you up for success as an entrepreneur actually has merit and is well defined. I’ve seen it time and again where budding entrepreneurs approach starting a new business thinking about all the amazing things they could offer the world. But, they fail to take into account whether there is an actual need (aka the problem) and/or they don’t define their idea enough (aka the solution). Instead, they end up wanting to offer everything under the sun, rather than focusing on one single concept and making a success of it. If that one idea doesn’t pan out, then you can resort to the next one.


2. Is what I want to do my specialty or might I need to rethink things a bit?

Building your own business means that you believe you have something you can offer the world that is unique in some way or another. But, if you are a first-time entrepreneur and the idea you have is not your specialty you might need other people to actually develop the concept or prototype for you, then you think a little longer. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue your idea. By all means you should try to pursue every single idea until one succeeds! But, what it does mean is that you may need to leverage of the strengths of another and outsource what is not your core skill. If that is the case, then the sooner you can start building the relevant networks, the better.


3. Am I prepared (and aware) that I will need to sell to make a success of my idea?

A few years ago I attended one of the Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” conferences in South Africa. One of the most crucial concepts Robert spoke about was that being an entrepreneur meant that you would have to sell. Ultimately you could have the most innovative product or service offering in the world, but it means absolutely nothing if you can’t get it to your customers and persuade them to purchase what you are selling. What that means is that you will need to sell; to sell your ideas to others and get their buy-in.


I always thought I’d be this fantastic businesswoman, owning multiple businesses, but I’d never quite taken into account that that would mean I needed to be the one punting my business and my brand. Seems silly, but a lot of people think that the clients will just somehow magically come to them. That is not going to happen. The truth is that if you don’t have your finger on the pulse in order to obtain and maintain the sales, you aint going nowhere. It was a huge eye-opener for me.


4. Who and how am I going to pitch my idea?

Hand in hand with point 1., who are your potential customers? Have you identified these yet? Are you sure these people would actually buy your product offering or is it just because you think it is “something you would like”? Have you done a proper analysis and have you identified the competition? What is your differentiating factor or competitive advantage; i.e. what makes your idea so special? Once I’ve identified my market, how am I going to get buy-in?


5. What are the logistics I need to factor in, in order to get this thing off the ground?

So, you have this great idea and you know where and how you are going to pitch it. But, what about all that other administrative or logistical stuff? You know, whether you want to register a business or trade as a sole proprietor? What are the opportunities and limitations of each? Or, what about that nasty little thing called tax? Do you have any idea how many types of tax there are that your business might need to pay down the line? Have you thought about who you are going to get on-board or involved to do the accounts and can you trust them? And what about things like contracts or agreements, especially when it is you and others going into business together? Oh yes and of course, what about the very significant little detail of having a bank account for the company? What sort of paperwork do you need to provide the bank to actually obtain that bank account?


Lots to think about!


6. Can I actually afford to take the leap now, or what do I need to get in place first?

Becoming your own boss is incredibly exciting but it is also very scary. What happens in those first few months when you don’t bring home a pay cheque? What about other personal circumstances that might be standing in your way? As a budding entrepreneur you need to factor in a minimum of 3 to 6 months funding for your own personal expenditure, as well as for your business. Often that is not even enough and disaster will always strike when you least want or expect it to. Are you prepared for that?


7. What am I going to do if things just don’t go my way?

The likelihood of failing on the first attempt is very, very high. And due to a whole number of reasons, a lack of funds, a bruised ego, etc., many would-be entrepreneurs end up slinking back to their corporate day job. That’s why you've always got to have some sort of Plan B, so that when Plan A doesn’t seem to be working, you are able to change lanes quickly and get going on Plan B.


Becoming an entrepreneur is exciting, daunting, challenging and harder than anything you could ever have imagined. But, it has its perks. You are your own boss, you determine your own hours and your input determines your output. It’s not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding.


Should you be thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, the above pointers may certainly assist. And, should you want to take these ideas and make them a reality, let’s have a conversation. Setting up a business is the easy part. Getting the rest of the building blocks into place is where it gets tough and it helps to have someone to bounce ideas off.


As I said to someone recently, you don’t want the regret not taking the risk when you had the chance. The risk of not taking the risk, is a far riskier business and can mean letting yourself down.

I add value by helping you save time, money, and energy with my Dream Life Design process before you invest time, money, and energy into a new business. I also offer personality testing if you are wondering what entrepreneurial ventures or careers you are best suited for. Contact Georgia Lee Arts, founder of Elysian Dream at or

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