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I overheard an interesting conversation recently while eating at a restaurant in London. As a young man and a young woman chatted at the table next to mine, I heard the gentleman say, “You know, just because you have the education now, that doesn’t mean you’ll get a good job.” The young woman responded, “Well, I’m going to get hired by somebody because I went to school, and, therefore, I have already proven myself.” She went on to say she knew she was going to be successful because she went to college and earned a degree.
Essentially, this woman equated her college degree with imminent success, as if it were a ticket to a thriving career with a high-paying salary. However, the real world doesn’t work that way.
Even though our society puts a lot of pressure on individuals to pursue higher education, not everyone should feel the need to succumb to that pressure. In reality, a college degree does not always guarantee success.
I do not have a college degree, and yet I consider myself to be a successful entrepreneur based on my achievements as an independent vehicle exporter. Therefore, I am proof that the entrepreneurial path does not always hinge on acquiring a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Sometimes relying on entrepreneurial “best practices” can be equally effective.
Here are the top nine best practices that I recommend:
1. Be willing to work hard.
During my twenties, I quickly learned that it takes more than 40 or 50 hours per week to succeed when you start a business. In fact, over the years, I would often dedicate 70 or more hours a week to pursuing my dream. Hard work is a massive requirement for any entrepreneur. It’s not the sure path, nor would I encourage working those long hours, but understanding and being willing to do whatever is needed whenever it’s needed is important.
2. Prepare to take risks.
Most people are afraid to leave a full-time job and start a business. Consequently, they continue doing what feels familiar: showing up, performing tasks and earning a regular paycheck. Breaking free from that comfort zone and launching a business takes a tremendous amount of courage.
Then, after you make that leap, you must continue to take risks. You have to be OK with the idea that sometimes you will work hard without earning a lot of money. However, short-term risks are often necessary for realizing long-term gain.
3. Don’t have a backup plan.
The security of a safety net could actually doom your dream of being a business owner. If you are considering a backup plan, you are not ready to be a full-time entrepreneur. You must be all in.
4. Learn to interact with all types of people.
This can be difficult to do if you are an introvert like me. However, being a successful entrepreneur means learning to deal with many different people. Fortunately, electronic communication — emailing, texting, messaging — makes it easy to reach out and build working relationships.
Nevertheless, don’t overlook the value of connecting via phone or in person. Sometimes a good conversation is warranted and more effective than chatting through a computer.
5. Continually build your knowledge base.
During my 12 years as an entrepreneur in the vehicle exporting industry, I have had to continually stay current on multiple topics, including vehicle trends, government regulations and changing currency rates. For example, during the first eight years my company was in business, we bought vehicles in the United States because the currency in our country was cheaper compared to currencies in Canada and Mexico. However, as the U.S. dollar exchange rate climbed higher, we had to shift our business model and begin buying vehicles out of Mexico and Canada instead. I had to climb a steep learning curve and create a lot of new connections quickly in order to make that shift successful.
Other vehicle exporters in the U.S. did not fare so well. Some went out of business because they were not able to adapt to buying cars in other countries and creating a completely new supply chain.
6. Use public relations to build awareness.
When I was starting out, I did not make an effort to promote myself. Eventually, though, I knew I had to tackle it, and so I started making calls, meeting new people and pursuing press coverage. It paid off. For instance, my number-one vehicle supplier first reached out to me because he saw a video of an interview I had done. I have acquired customers from that same interview, as well as other types of press coverage.
If you are an entrepreneur, you need to make other people aware of you and work on building your credibility so that they want to contact you. That is much easier and often more effective than simply making cold calls or paying for advertising.
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
I have found that the more I persevere with my own business, the less the small details matter. Whenever I am facing a big problem or a big decision, I know I have to let the small things go and just concentrate on the most important aspects.
8. Never look back.
Learn from your experiences, but don’t dwell on them. If you lose money or if you have to deal with a particularly big challenge, take what you can from it and just move forward.
9. Love what you’re doing.
I am a firm believer that passion is more important than education when it comes to being an entrepreneur. For me, running my own business never feels as if I am “going to work.” I love what I do for a living and I always want to explore what I can do next to push my success even further.
If you are thinking about starting a business, but feel you are not eligible or capable enough because you don’t have a degree, don’t get caught up in what others say you must have in order to succeed. Anyone can succeed with these nine best practices.
July 1, 2019 at 08:00AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs