For the majority of us, the journey to becoming an entrepreneur is pretty intense. From the moment we first think of giving up the day job, we go on an experience of self discovery like no other. When you consider going it alone, after all, you give yourself a shot at finally becoming what you want to be. You stop paying lip service to managers you don’t respect, and start taking responsibility. When you finally leave the office, you go on a journey. That journey encapsulates everything from organizing your hours to discovering what your product’s going to be.
Each of these are very different experiences, but they have one thing in common. When it comes down to it, they’re all about you. In those early entrepreneurial days, being selfish is pretty much the aim of the game. And, that can be refreshing after years of putting everyone else before yourself. To start anything new, you need to think about what you want for your life and make an effort to go after it. Fail to do that, and you’re never going to have so much as an idea to be going on with.
The trouble is that, at some stage, your ‘self’ will need to take a step back again. That’s because a selfish entrepreneur is often a lousy one. If you continue to put yourself first, you could soon see your idea start to go down the pan. That’s because, at some stage, your idea stops being your own. To start, it’s just you and your imagination. But, when you begin letting customers and employees in, the game changes altogether. As simple as that, your product and enterprise no longer belong to you. And, if you keep treating them like they do, you could soon fall foul to the following fatal mistakes.
Not wanting to share
In the worst case scenario, thinking only of yourself could see you reluctant to release your products. We all know, after all, that an inability to share is inherent in most selfish acts. We teach this kind of stuff to our kids, so don’t get caught out with it. Never fall into the trap of getting precious about your products. The moment you do, you seal their fate in a locked room with only a failed entrepreneur for company. Newsflash; that’s no way to do business. There’s going to come a time when you need to send your babies out into the world. It might sting a bit, but you can’t keep them close to home forever. At least, not if you want to make a real go of this business stuff. Often, reluctance here is down to little more than a fear of failure. All you need to do is remind yourself that the worst failure is not trying. Do whatever you can to boost your confidence, then give your products wings. Your future self will thank you for it.
Creating a product for you rather than your customers
To some extent, every new product begins on the back of the mind behind it. Entrepreneurs have been filling their own needs with their products for years now. Being your own first customer is, after all, the best way to find a gap in the market. But, that’s as far as your desires should go. Once you see that gap, you need to start thinking about your future customers. You need to know the types of people who would buy your product so that you can target it at their needs. Your audience will dictate everything from product appearance to price points. You may even find that early market research changes your basic plans altogether. The point is that you need to let your customers take the lead. Fail to do that, and you’ll end up with your dream product, but no one who wants to buy it. The idea will be all yours, and no one can deny that. But, don’t be selfish past that point. Open the doors, and let the people who really matter dictate what you do next.
Putting your needs before those of your employees
When you left traditional employment, the chances are that you revelled in the opportunity to please yourself. You may have worked late into the night so that you could have a lie in the next morning. The chances are that you even took the opportunity to blare music specific to your tastes. You certainly didn’t need to worry about anyone else. For obvious reasons, that should change the moment you bring a team of employees onboard. While you will still be in charge from a technical standpoint, employees should dictate how you behave. For one, you’ll need to resort back to traditional hours to keep within employment law. Speaking of laws; you’ll also need to consider ways to keep your employees safe. You may be happy working in a dump with no clean water or security, but the law dictates that your employees aren’t. The moment you bring someone else on board, then, you need to adhere to certain standards. The means putting fire systems in place, and installing water tank pumps even if these things don’t bother you. Far from just not thinking of yourself all the time, employment actually means that you may need to be selfless. There will be times, for example, where you need to stay light so that your employees can finish on time. You may even need to pick up the slack if someone else calls in sick. Either way, your needs can’t come first anymore. If they do, you’ll soon find yourself with an unhappy team, or even a lawsuit coming your way.
Getting in your own way
To some extent, thinking only of yourself can also see you getting in your way. That’s because every company needs to listen to suggestions from others. If you’re too set on what you want, you’ll fail to do that. And, that alone could be the nail in your idea coffin. For budding entrepreneurs, especially, taking the time to listen is half the battle to success. That’s why so many companies rely on things like customer suggestions during development. Some even choose to work with outsourced services which can help them perfect things like web design and marketing. If you don’t step out of your way, though, you’re never going to recognize the need for these things. You may move forward without once looking to see what customers think of your products. You may plough on with poor web design because you assume you know best. You wouldn’t be the first. Many of us make these mistakes, and we pay for them. Make sure you don’t end up doing the same by stopping before things get too bad. Accept that, sometimes, an outside opinion is the best thing for any product. That doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you’re doing. It just means that you can’t do it all. And, if you try, you’re going to get in your own way time and time again.
Forgetting that the customer is always right
We all know how important it is to remember that the customer is always right. At least, we do when we stop putting ourselves first. If you can’t do that, you could soon find yourself in trouble. That’s because, when you let your ego lead you, you’re more liable to argue than accept when you’re wrong. If a customer complaint is met with defiance, you can kiss goodbye to a decent reputation. In case you didn’t realize, reputation is essential for any entrepreneur. Many would go as far as to say that the ability to turn complaints into positive opportunities dictates your capabilities. If you annoy unhappy customers further by disagreeing with them, you won’t get far at all. Instead, you’ll find yourself on endless blacklists. You’ll also find that your negative reputation starts to spread. Don’t let it happen. Instead, accept that the customer is always right. Treat complaints with understanding. Work towards a solution your customers can be happy with. And, whatever you do, don’t question the points they’re making. Even if you don’t agree on a personal level, this isn’t about you. It’s about your company, and the way people view it in the future.
Striking a balance here can be tough. There’s no clear marker about when you need to put yourself back on the sidelines. For the most part, though, you’ll be able to tell from the state of your company. If you’re struggling to do things on your own, for example, it’s a sure sign your customers are starting to take the helm. It’s also a sign that you’re past the point of needing a little help. Remember that going it alone is always going to allow you more freedom than traditional employment. That’s the case whether you’re selfish about it or not. When it comes down to it, though, no entrepreneur should ever aim to be an island.