Entrepreneurship: Why you should be your own boss & go it alone

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Not everyone is cut out to work for somebody else. Imagine a job where you can be your own boss, pick your own hours, and create your own career path. Sound good? Entrepreneurship has always appealed to the maverick souls who want to succeed or fail on their own terms. If you’re not afraid of taking risks and hard work, this might be the perfect option for you. Now’s the time to tailor your college choice accordingly.

Thinking of becoming an entrepreneur?

Before you even write that first pitch document, make sure you’re armed with all the facts when it comes to the corner of whatever market you want to conquer. New small businesses do have a very high failure rate – over 50 percent, but this should not dissuade anyone with that entrepreneurial spirit from trying. Yes, it is a big step, both personally and financially. Yes, it requires serious consideration, and takes long hours of work – but nothing great in life is ever achieved without a vision and some elbow grease.

If you go down this route, you will be in good company; entrepreneurship is quite healthy locally. According to the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report, Ireland has relatively high rates of entrepreneurship. In this country, approximately 26,800 people reported they were involved in starting a new business in 2017. While 3.3% of the Irish population reported they were involved in starting a new business in the recent pastm (since 2014). Meanwhile, intrapreneurship levels continue to rise; 1 in 12 employees reported that they were involved in the development of new activities for their employer that year, which is above the European average.

In fact, entrepreneurship has surpassed pre-recession levels. Between 2003 to 2007 up to 8 in every 100 people, was either an entrepreneur or a new business owner. In 2017, 12 in every 100 people was active as a new entrepreneur or a new business owner. When compared to our neighbours, rates of entrepreneurship are actually much lower in many developed European economies, such as France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden. The full impact of Brexit on these numbers for the next few years remains to be seen.

How to start your own business: the first step

It’s vital you know your field. You won’t make profits on wishful thinking and blind luck alone, you need to do your research. Most entrepreneurs gain experience working for others. So your education is a great way to find a mentor and learn from their past mistakes. Use your 3-5 years to amass a wealth of knowledge and skills before striking out your own. Be tenacious, be hungry, be humble and, if this is your first venture, never be afraid to help. Your goal is to find a gap in the market and capitalise on the commercial opportunity by developing your innovative idea or solution. No pressure.

Another route people generally take is to convert their passion into a business. If you’re a creative individual it’s time to cash in on your artist ability, crafts skills, web design ability, filmmaking knowledge, and or wherever your talent lies. A degree or masters, as well as a stromg portfolio, is a great advantage to breaking into these areas.

Starting out on your own: the pros and cons

It’s easy to be oversold on the benefits. The guides to starting a business often refer to the freedom entrepreneurs have as a major benefit. Sure, you’ll have the opportunity to decide when to work, the type of work to do, the overall direction of a business. In reality, however – especially in the early stages – many small businesses require a grueling amount of work to get off the ground. This freedom only arrives with success and an increased workforce.

Don’t forget about the lack of employment benefits. You won’t be getting paid holidays, sick pay, or a pension scheme. Plus, small businesses are notoriously vulnerable. With profits often quite low during the initial period, you must really invest if you want to succeed.

Arguably, the most important and rewarding benefit of running your own business is the tremendous motivation and job satisfaction that comes from those wins, big or small. When you’re starting out, landing a small account or nabbing a marginal profit spike in a quarter can mean the absolute world.

The recipe for success

Studies have shown that entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed if they have certain personal qualities:

  • Drive and determination
  • Good organisational skills
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-motivation
  • Sound business sense
  • An in-depth knowledge of their chosen industry

While you may not tick every item on that list right now, not to worry. They are all learnable skills. Utalise your time in college to develop and work on any deficits you might have in those areas. Use your assignments, exams and regular deadlines to learn to beat that dreaded procrastination, master multitasking and develop that discipline muscle. Soak up every bit of wisdom and feedback your lecturers have so when you enter the business world, you’ll hit the ground running.

Concept is key

Now for the fun part. The right idea is vital if you’re business is to thrive. BRIGHT is the snappy acronym it uses to capture the key ingredients to a successful business concept:

  • Business-orientated – the whole point of the exercise
  • Realistic – a necessity for success
  • Innovative – customers are always interested in new things
  • Genuine – your business must meet an existing, real need
  • Honest – to yourself and your planned customers
  • Timely – will someone else get in ahead of you?

Not all new businesses require strong innovation. Franchises are a popular option for young entrepreneurs. They supply a well-worked and proven business plan, but also give you a sense of independence.

The importance of finding the right course

Whatever your business idea, you are never too young to start formulating a plan. A report by the University of Limerick’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies found that 39 percent of entrepreneurs were aged 20–30 at the initial start-up (rising to 67% for females). Your third-level education is vital in prepping you for the business world. The same report revealed that over 7 percent of entrepreneurs found their formal education to be either very relevant or relevant to their current position.

Some third-level courses, such as the following, make entrepreneurship a core theme of the programme: Enterprise Computing (DCU), Business in Enterprise (IADT), Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness (GMIT), Culinary Entrepreneurship (DIT), and Product Design Innovation (IT Carlow); while many others feature modules dedicated to business start-up.

If you have some 3rd level or equivalent experience, there are a number of options available through the Springboard programme. These are usually subsidised, or even free for people in receipt of social welfare.

Resources available

Remember…

No matter what, stay above board. Keep your eye on the ball and never stop learning and evolving as a business owner. The markets change every day, technology develops, trends shift. Take nothing for granted and always be asking what your customers want, and how can you deliver more. You can be guaranteed your competitors are. Make sure your accounts and systems adhere to regulations, invest in a good digital presence and marketing. And most importantly, never be afraid to fail. Even if it doesn’t work out, any company will see you as a valued asset and you will learn more in the process than any number of successes.


troy

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