Make Your First Million: Ditch the 9-5 and Start the Business of Your Dreams, 2nd Edition
- US $14.95
- Click here to buy the book
- Published: April 2009
- ISBN: 9781906465544
- Format: Paperback
- Extent: 208
Never has advice on making money been so essential! Many of the world’s most successful businesses started during an economic downturn, so don’t let the credit crunch stop you. Make Your First Million shows you how to go it alone and make the money come rolling in! This straight-talking reality-check is one of the UK’s bestselling entrepreneurship titles of the last 18 months and in this new edition Martin shows you just how important it still is to follow your dreams - even in tough times.
This edition includes a brand new introduction on why entrepreneurship is the right choice, even in the current financial climate. Martin Webb started his first business in the recession of the early 90s and expounds the myths surrounding stating in a recession and outlines the possible benefits and advantages – as well as the cautions.
- A look at the personal attributes you’ll need and how to develop them
- A real understanding of the impact of starting a business on your lifestyle and relationships
- An outline of the skills and knowledge needed to make your enterprise thrive
- Information on finance and how to minimise risk
- A unique Entrepreneur’s Toolkit packed with practical steps to success
"The book contains a lot of advice for those with ambitious growth plans in mind." (Growing Business, June 2007)
"As a highly readable primer in the art of making a success of a start-up it takes some beating." (Better Business, June 2007)
SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
You’re plainly interested in the topic of entrepreneurship, and I’m going to assume that you’re thinking of becoming an entrepreneur and starting up a business. In this chapter you’ll get my ideas on:
• What an entrepreneur is
• The real benefits of being an entrepreneur
• The main attributes of an entrepreneur and how to test if you’ve got them
• The downside of going into business on your own
• The fact that, if you really want to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to do something about it now
SO, WHAT IS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Are entrepreneurs born, not made? To be honest, I’ve changed my mind on this. I used to think that entrepreneurship’s an innate talent and that if you hadn’t discovered it and done something about it by the time you left school you probably didn’t have it; but now I think that’s wrong. Why? Well, mostly because of all the people I’ve met during the Risking It All TV series where a number of people sold up their assets or borrowed money to start premises - based business like pubs and hairdressers. Many of these people have very good entrepreneurial skills, some of them far better than their basic business skills (a fact that can be a bit worrying), and yet many of them didn’t make the decision to exploit these skills until they were 35 or older. Somehow we’re stifling a lot of entrepreneurial talent, and for us as consumers – who could be getting a better service – and as a country, we’re poorer as a result. However, the fact that over two million people a week watched Risking It All is a sign that there is a growing interest in people who want to start up their own business.
So, here’s my new view: it is most unfortunate that entrepreneurialism is considered, in Britain at least, as being on the edge of respectability. Think about the archetypal entrepreneurs you get in many TV series, like Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses , Mike Baldwin in Coronation Street and Arthur Daley in Minder , and you’ ll see what I mean. What they have in common is that they are looking for an easy way to make a lot of money and don ’ t really mind how far they stretch the truth or approach the limits of legality to get it.
Now think about the image of real - life entrepreneurs. There’s the Richard Branson type. With very little formal education, he’s a highly colourful man, full of energy and loads of self - confidence. He’s extremely successful in business, building the image of his companies around his terrific ability to attract publicity and come over very well in the media. Now, if that’s what it takes to be an entrepreneur, most of us couldn’t do it and, because of that, many of us are put off trying. Certainly, many of the people on Risking It All were not highly educated – and not shy of publicity, of course – but they couldn’t do it the Branson way. What’s more, they have perhaps discovered and developed entrepreneurial skills quite late in life.
Take another stereotype – the dour, hard person keeping their underlings in fear, taking tough decisions and basically not caring a hoot if the whole world hates them as long as they are building successful enterprises. People literally tremble with fear when they see that person’s car in the car park and know that they’re in the office. You can hear it in the way these tough types speak. They use phrases like, ‘If you can’t identify the problem, then quite simply you are the problem’ and ‘If you f*** up again, I’m going to get upset.’ They don’t really want talented people around them who can think for themselves and ignore what the ‘dear leader’ is telling them to do. Indeed, they tend to fire anyone who gets a bit too pushy or ambitious. (I could name some, but the lawyers would prefer me to assume that you know who I mean.) I just cannot do it that way and neither can many other successful entrepreneurs. This hard - as - nails, hateful dictator is, however, just another popular stereotype that can put us off the entrepreneurial species and make us feel that we can’t do it ourselves.
In fact, there is no model for an entrepreneur: we come in all shapes and sizes and, although we have some traits in common, how we go about building our businesses depends on our individual personality, education and, most importantly, the way we relate to people.
In some ways it’s a pity that Branson’s lack of formal education is such a highly touted fact (however true or false it is), because, again in my experience, education is a great thing for entrepreneurs, as well as everyone else. As you’ll see, I believe in getting as much knowledge and experience of business as you possibly can before you jump off the high board of your first enterprise.
Come to think of it, there’s another reason why so many people come to entrepreneurship late. I think the education system itself is partly to blame. Schools have little if anything to do with entrepreneurship training. There are no exams in being an entrepreneur, because there are no courses in it. Unlike becoming a solicitor or an accountant, there is no career path for the entrepreneur, so the careers teachers don’t have it on their list. There’s just no reference at school to being the boss of your own business. So we’re not encouraged to become entrepreneurs at school and in many cases we’re discouraged by teachers – ‘Oh, it’s a terrible risk, don’t touch it, you’ll probably fail, you’ll never have a pension and you’ll end up a hard and nasty person.’ Attitudes like that can sap your energy and your confidence and, as we will see, you need the opposite of that: you need a very high level of confidence to make a new business work. All in all, I think most of us are conditioned by the time we leave school to believe that we can’t actually get out there, start up a business and be a successful entrepreneur.
So we need to add entrepreneurship to the curriculum in schools and universities. Incidentally, there is some movement in this direction within the education system: at Brighton University there are entrepreneur workshops, which is, at least, a sign of progress (so I’ll get off my soap box now).
Mind you, there’s plenty of good advice around too. If you’re thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be extremely useful to go and get a bit of experience in a big company, before you think about the great leap of setting up your own business. You can learn a lot by working in an established business, and it needn’t take a long time. In fact, you should see getting some experience as part of the educational process of becoming an entrepreneur and I would advise you to do it. For instance, even four or five months working in a restaurant kitchen will help you take a massive step forward in learning about logistics, the key health and safety rules and so on. Try to spend time with more than one company and choose ones that you respect. If you‘re going to open a coffee shop, get a serving job at Starbucks. You may not like the mega - chain if you’re going to set up an individual specialized shop yourself, but you can learn loads from Starbucks ’ years of experience. Basically, the company’s paying you to train for the time when you start up your own business. One of the many surprises I’ve had when talking to new entrepreneurs is that they ’ re happy to jump into a new industry without finding out much about it. A bit of experience is absolutely crucial. In fact, it could be your first step towards setting up the business of your dreams: take a weekend job in any role at all in the sort of business you’re interested in starting; you’ll learn buckets – yes, even at McDonald ’s. And there’s a second advantage to that plan. Weekends are the times when you spend money that you don’t have to spend, on shopping and partying, for instance, so the evening and weekend job gets you to save money and live frugally, a very good habit to get into before you go it alone.
The strange paradox is this: in one important way, the best time to set up a business is when you are young and don’t have any dependants. The risk of wrecking your life, or other people’s lives, is at its lowest at that point. If you leave it until you’re in your mid - 30s, you’re going out on your own when you’ve got a mortgage and probably a partner. There will only be one income for a few years when the kids come along and this all adds to the lifestyle risk of starting a business; and when it’s a bigger risk, guess what? It’s easier to say no. The fear factor is the biggest stopper of budding entrepreneurs and in many cases that’s quite right too. You should be scared, because it’s a big risk.
I think there’s another reason many people lack the confidence to have a go, and that’s the fact that some of us are rather reluctant to say that one of the biggest motivations for starting up in business is to make money. Most entrepreneurs are passionate about their businesses – they really feel that they are going to make a difference – but if you scratch the surface of this passion, they also want to make money. I discovered this on several occasions in the Risking It All series . A lot of couples expressed their dream of offering a service second to none, a step forward in the public’s awareness of the way ahead in eating or hairdressing experiences and so on, but all of them eventually admit that money is a huge motivator. And why not? If it were not for the money motivation, we wouldn’t have half the innovative ideas that make modern life just that bit easier and more enjoyable.
I don’t want to put anyone off starting up a business, but I know some people are not going to like what I’m about to say. For some people setting out on their own is a dream that will always remain just that – a dream. ‘It’s better to travel than to arrive,’ is their slogan. You know that one of Bart Simpson’s catchphrases is ‘ I’ll do it in the afternoon.’ Well, the catchphrase of the entrepreneurial dreamer is ‘ I’ll do it next year.’ They tell everyone that they are seriously thinking about starting a business. They can accept the fact that their career has stalled this year by promising themselves a new one in their own business next year. Next year is always so comfortably in the future that it lets you off the hook of doing anything now. And that’s why most people never achieve their dreams.
I believe in the catchphrase ‘ I’ll do it now.’ Here’s how it works. Everyone who is thinking about setting up a business is going to face a lot of problems, obstacles and barriers: fact. If you don’t start dealing with these barriers, you’re never going to get off the ground. ‘So,’ say the dreamers, ‘I’ve got a brilliant idea and I would go on my own if I had the money, and the kids had finished school, and we hadn’t just moved into a new house, and we didn’t need a new stair carpet and the cat hadn’t died …’ So this chapter carries a challenge. After you’ve read it you’re going to decide on the first step you need to take to start up your own business and you’re going to schedule to do it within the next 24 hours.