Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Do you want to become a successful business owner but you have neither money nor college degree? If YES, then i advice you read on?

How did entrepreneurs like Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Ingvar Kamprad, Michael Dell, Aliko Dangote and Thomas Edison become successful? I want to state categorically that there is no definite strategy or success formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur and the reason is because the entrepreneurial path of entrepreneurs is different.

Whether you want to become an entrepreneur in high school or college, whether you want to become an entrepreneur at a young age (kid, teenager) or in retirement age; the process is the same. However, after understudying the lives of successful entrepreneurs; I have been able to pin point four keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

“To be a successful business owner and investor, you have to be emotionally neutral to winning and losing. Winning and losing are just part of the game.” – Rich Dad

“Starting a business is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. In mid air, the entrepreneur begins building a parachute and hopes it opens before hitting the ground.” – Rich Dad

“I wanted to be an editor or journalist. I wasn’t really interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going.” – Richard Branson

How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur and Business Owner

1. Change your perception

So you want to become self employed? Are you prepared for the challenges involved? Are you prepared to give your project all it requires to succeed? Are you mentally prepared to become your own boss? You might feel these are just casual questions but I want you to know that they are realistic questions. Most people quit their jobs and go solo without being mentally prepared for the process and that’s why they fail.

To become self employed and succeed at what you do; you must change your perception. You must transit from a mentality of dependency on your boss to being independent. You have to take control and be responsible for your actions. You must be accountable and most importantly; you must be prepared to face disappointments, you must be prepared to fail because failure is a pathway to success.

2. Identify your core skill

What are you quitting your job on? What’s your leverage? What service can you offer in exchange for money that people are willing to pay for? What are your core skills, talent, hobby or passion? If you want to be a successful self employed entrepreneur, then you must answer these questions.

3. Learn how to find opportunities that others miss

“A good businessman must have nose for business the same way a journalist has nose for news. Once your eyes, ears, nose, heart and brain are trained on business, you sniff business opportunities everywhere. In places where people see a lot of obstacles, I see a lot of opportunities. At times, there is something instinctive in me that tell me a business opportunity exist even at a place where others see nothing. That is what makes me different, maybe unique. A good businessman sees where others don’t see. What I see, you may not see. You cannot see because that is the secret of the business… the entire world is a big market waiting for anybody who knows the rules of the game.” – Orji Uzor Kalu

The first key to becoming a successful business owner is finding the right opportunity; an opportunity that others fail to see. I use the word “learn” because entrepreneurship is a learning process; you must keep learning from the day you start a business till the day you quit the game.

“One of the great things about being willing to try new things and make mistakes is that making mistakes keeps you humble. People who are humble learn more than people who are arrogant.” – Rich Dad

“One of the most stupid things to do is to pretend you are smart. When you pretend to be smart, you are at the height of stupidity.” – Rich Dad

I used the word “learn” because you can never become perfect at spotting good business opportunities; you just have to keep learning and improving your business skills or vision. Becoming a successful entrepreneur or building a successful business lies in your ability to spot business opportunities that others miss; you must be able to see opportunity in problems.

“Behind every adversity is an opportunity. If you lament over the adversity, you will miss the opportunity.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

In an article I wrote previously; I repeatedly emphasized the point that the primary duty of an entrepreneur is to “solve critical problems” and such problems can surface in any form or situation. To become a successful entrepreneur; you must think and act like the ancient alchemists that tried to turn lead to gold.

But in your case, you will have to make it a primary duty to turn problems into opportunities. If you can do turn a problem into an opportunity; even if it’s just once, you have just picked the first piece of the puzzle to building a business and becoming a successful business owner.

4. Learn how to raise money

“Capital can do nothing without brains to direct it.” – J. Ogden Armour

The second key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to learn how to raise capital. I have said and written it countless times that one of the fundamental function of an entrepreneur is to raise capital; by any legal means necessary.

“Business? It’s quite simple. It is other people’s money.” – Alexander Dumas the Younger

If you don’t know how to raise capital; forget about becoming an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you must learn to raise capital internally; as well as externally. Cash flow is the life blood of a business and it’s your job to make sure that cash continuously flow into your business. Show me a successful entrepreneur and I will show you an individual that knows the intricacies of raising capital.

“There is one paradoxical characteristic every entrepreneur must possess to succeed. An entrepreneur must be able to persuade his debtors to pay their debts promptly and at the same, must tactically delay payments to his creditors.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

5. Learn how to organize smart people

The ability to deal with people is as purchasable as a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other thing under the sun.” – John D. Rockefeller

The third key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is the ability to organize smart people and put them in strategic positions within the business. Business is a team sport; a game that requires a synergy of business skills; and an entrepreneur with the best team will always win. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need to find your own best team; you need to assemble a strong business team.

“Successful businessmen share the ability to hire people smarter than they are.” – Dillard Munford

Organizing and directing smart people can only be possible if you possess good leadership skills and your ability to create a synergy between groups of smart people is what makes you a successful entrepreneur. Smart people in this case include professionals, business advisors, mentors and business coaches.

“A business idea is just another idea. But an idea backed by a strong feasibility, a thorough business plan and a smart team is no longer an idea. It’s now a solid business opportunity worth pursuing.” – Ajaero Tony Martins

6. Learn how to manage risk

“You must take risks, both with your own money or with borrowed money. Risk taking is essential to business growth.” – J. Paul Getty

So you want to become a successful entrepreneur? If your answer to this question is yes; then what is your risk bearing capacity? Are you prepared to take calculated risk?

Risk avoidance is the major reason most people do not become entrepreneurs; the ability to take calculated risk is also the reason Bill Gates became the richest man in the world; it’s the reason Mark Zuckerberg became the youngest billionaire in the world and Aliko Dangote, the richest black man in the world.

Without risk, forget about starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur. Becoming a successful entrepreneur depends on your ability to increase your risk bearing capacity. What’s the difference between Larry Ellison and the smart self employed programmer next door? The answer is simple. They are both entrepreneurs but they are operating at different risk level.

“In today’s rapidly changing world, the people who are not taking risk are the risk takers.” – Robert Kiyosaki

So if you are going to start a business from scratch and become a successful entrepreneur; then you must expand your risk bearing capacity. You must stretch beyond your comfort zone because only then can you achieve success in business.

“Seek advice on risk from the wealthy who still take risks, not friends who dare nothing more than a football bet.” – J. Paul Getty

7. Conduct a feasibility study and find a niche

Before you jump into offering your services for money, you must know who your market is. What is your niche? Who are your customers? How much are they in need of your service? How much are they willing to pay for your services? How do they want your services packaged and delivered? These are things you must research and find out before investing your money and time in starting a business.

8. Write a simple business plan

Most people go solo without a business plan because they feel it’s too early to get one. Sincerely speaking, I have seen successful entrepreneurs that don’t even know what a business plan looks like. So I don’t want to make it sound like you will never succeed without a business plan. But if you intend to grow big as time goes on, then you will definitely need a business plan even if it’s a simple one page business plan.

9. Sharpen your sales skill

One of the most important steps you will take in the process of becoming a self employed entrepreneur is to sharpen your sales skills; either through training or self learning. No matter how good you are at what you do, you will never find success if you can’t sell yourself.

“The most important skill in business is sales. Without sales skills, forget about becoming an entrepreneur.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Unfortunately, this statement above is true. I have seen excellent technicians who are struggling to survive just because they don’t know how to tell people how good they are. Most business failures are a result of the management’s inability to generate sales. So get good at selling if you want to become a success self employed entrepreneur.

10. Execute your plan

Of the seven steps highlighted in this article, this is the most important. I have seen people with wonderful ideas and plans but they remain where they are from year to year simply because they are afraid to start a business. They are afraid to quit their job to face the uncertainty and challenges of being responsible or accountable.

In the entrepreneurial process, the most important task is taking action. You can plan, dream and fantasize but if you don’t take action; all will be in vain. So execute your plans today and I will see you at the top.

Ajaero Tony Martins