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Maureen Stephenson: Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding journey

Know the Score

Posted: May 8, 2009 9:30 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak in spirit, but it is a rewarding adventure. If you've decided you're going to begin your own business, you've probably already had your share of friendly advice from well-meaning friends.

I'm sure it went something like this: "You can't make a success in your own business now. The economy isn't right, it'd be better to wait for a change." Or maybe you were told, "The business climate isn't right for a small business now. You'll be a small fish in a big pond and get swallowed up and spit out by the big boys."

Don't listen to these dream stealers. If you've done your homework and have a plan, then I say, "full steam ahead." The difference between your well-intentioned pals and you is the same thing that divides the population into two big hunks. There are those who search, hunt, go after the information they need to fix whatever's ailing them, and there are those that don't.

There are about 5 percent of the people in the first group, and 95 percent in the second. That 5 percent does very well financially, and 95 percent never achieve wealth. The difference is information, not education.

I once read a very smart statement by a Dr. Orrison Swett Marden. It went like this: "A lobster, when left high and dry among the rocks, has not instinct and energy enough to work his way back to the sea but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves which are perhaps within a yard of him.

"The world is full of human lobsters: men stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat."

I think that's a very astute assessment of about 95 percent of the population, and it's the difference between a successful entrepreneur and the rest of the business people.

There are a great number of business people who will bemoan the fact that business is off because of the economy, the new bigger company that's moved into the neighborhood, the high cost of living, or just about anything they can blame except themselves.

If I've learned anything in business, it's that control equals responsibility, and loss of control comes when you don't accept the responsibility. Instead of blaming outside factors, assume the responsibility and rethink some of the things you're doing that aren't working. Then, fix them. That's how you keep your business thriving.

If you've got an entrepreneurial mindset, you'll be constantly warehousing new and good ideas. Perhaps they can't be put into motion right now, but you don't forget them. Instead, you file them on index cards or where ever you can find them again.

How about stretching your original business concept? Take, for example. Amazon's initial concept was to offer internet-based service for sale and delivery of discounted books. The company has now extended the concept to other products.

What about related trends? Record any new trends that might have a bearing on your business and present an opportunity.

Conversely, some trends may serve as signals to retrench or retreat. Note any obstacles or barriers that keep you from grasping certain opportunities. When barriers fall, opportunities often open.

Keep that entrepreneur attitude and don't let any well-meaning associate rain on your parade. Always keep in mind that what you're willing to accept is what you get. Steer as clear of the nay-sayers and negative friends as you would a toxic dump, because that's what they are.

Success is a decision, and those that are habitually not doing well never make the decision to do otherwise. I don't mean wish to do well - I mean decide to do well.

Dr. Maureen Stephenson is the author of "Make Money Writing," which covers topics from self-publishing to copywriting and everything an author needs to make sales. The views expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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