How to Become an Entrepreneur: Career Guide
To become an entrepreneur, you’ll first need to identify a market need that is currently not being met. Once you have identified an opportunity, you will need the right set of skills and resources to create a successfully business. The difference between success and failure will rest in the details. Below we’ve outlined what you will need to become a successful entrepreneur.
Education Needed to Become an Entrepreneur
There is no single educational path to becoming an entrepreneur, as being your own boss allows you to determine what is a sufficient amount of education for you to have in your field. Despite the fact that a formal education may not be necessary, it is highly beneficial to have some level of knowledge, competency or even expertise in the industry you plan on working within. A combination of industry experience and formal education can help accomplish this.
Gaining knowledge specific to your field can be accomplished by pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in a field related to your business. For example, if you want to start a software development firm, knowing how software is developed can be a great advantage. In this case, it would be worth your while to pursue a degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering.
It is also a good idea to gain knowledge in the area of business in general. Pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Business, such as Marketing or Management, can provide you with skills related to starting, operating, promoting and managing your business.
Different Ways to Become an Entrepreneur
• Develop a unique product or create a service
• Become an independent representative for someone else's company, selling or distributing their products
• Purchase an existing business or franchise of a business
• Become an "intrapreneur," operating autonomously within an existing company
Entrepreneur Job Description
Entrepreneurs are individuals who notice an opportunity to satisfy customer or market needs and decide how to find and use resources to make a product or deliver a service that meets those needs. In other words, they perceive an opportunity and create an organization to pursue it. Entrepreneurs may work in almost any industry imaginable, and create and operate a business venture of almost any size.
Entrepreneur Job Duties
• Identify customer needs that the market does not satisfy
• Identify target market and customer profile for product or service
• Identify funding sources, such as savings, loans or approaching investors
• Prepare business plan complete with financial requirements and revenue targets
• May prepare pitch for potential investors, outlining the financial benefits of investing in the business endeavor, as well as the tangible reasons why it will succeed
• Consult with lawyers to ensure intellectual property rights are protected, and that the new business is not infringing upon the intellectual property rights of others
• May seek patent for invented product
• May source manufacturers for newly patented product
• May seek distributors for existing product
• Develop marketing plan for product or service, including budget
• May recruit, hire, train, supervise and support staff
• May perform sales duties or hire sales professionals to implement sales plan
What You’ll Need to Become an Entrepreneur
Regardless of the industry you’re in, there are certain things you’ll need to have if you are to become a successful entrepreneur.
An identified business opportunity: Look for unmet market needs you could address by introducing a new product or service.
Market research: Use market research to determine if the business opportunity is real, what the current competition level is like, what their pricing is, etc.
Business plan: The process of writing down your plans for the business will help you refine your thinking and will focus your efforts.
Financing: One of the biggest challenges for a start-up business is obtaining the necessary capital. Among the possible sources of funding are your savings, friends and family, lending institutions, working a second job and venture capitalists.
Operational Decisions: There are many small decisions you must make that will help shape your business, such as what equipment to buy, where to locate your business, what business stationery to use, what policies and procedures to implement, etc.
Becoming an Entrepreneur: Market Research
Regardless of what kind of entrepreneur you’ll become, you need to ask yourself the following questions about your prospective business and the market it will be in.
• Is there a real market?
• Is it a growing market?
• How much are customers willing to pay?
• Who is my competition?
• How will I compete in this market?
• What barriers will I have to overcome?
• What resources would I need to enter the market?
Success Tips for Becoming an Entrepreneur
• Having experience in your field or industry can give you credibility, as well knowledge and competencies related to your product, service and the market it serves
• Having realistic expectations about how long and hard it will be to start becoming successful will help you stay the course and not give up when things aren’t happening as quickly as possible
• Network wherever you go; you never know when or where you will find a new customer or someone who can provide you invaluable tips or knowledge
• The key to success is creative marketing and outstanding customer service. ; experiment with ways to reach potential customers and keep them coming back by exceeding their expectations
Personal Characteristics Needed to Become an Entrepreneur
Even with the right education and skill set, becoming successful as an entrepreneur is not guaranteed. If you’re reading the list of personality and intellectual traits listed below, and you recognize many of the traits in yourself, you may be well suited to become an entrepreneur.
Desire to achieve: This is the most important aspect of becoming an entrepreneur, as without it you won’t have what it takes to overcome the many obstacles you will face.
Desire to be your own boss: Working for others isn’t for everyone, and having a desire to be your own boss can help motivate you when times are hard.
Self-discipline: As your own boss, you will be in control of your own schedule; making yourself work hard and staying focused won’t guarantee your success, but without it you don’t have a chance.
Willing to work long hours: Many things fight for your time, and seldom will you be able to start a business without having other commitments get in the way.
Self-motivation: You can’t just coast while starting up a business; you have to be able to pull yourself up when things are too hard or tiring.
Financial discipline: It can take a fair amount of resources to start a business, and if you mis-spend or mis-manage those resources, it can be harder to recover them than it was to get them in the first place.
Resourcefulness: Aside from possible mentors, there is no one to guide your path. This is especially true if you are starting a business in which you have no industry experience.
Calculated risk-taking: Entrepreneurs don't just take risks, they take calculated and analyzed risk. They don't plunge blindly into new situations, they thoroughly prepare for new opportunities.
Self-confidence: There will be times when you begin to doubt your venture, you can’t let those feelings win if you are going to succeed.
Handle responsibility well: Your customers expect a good product or great services, your employers will expect a good work environment, and you will expect yourself to succeed.
Be a ‘Go getter’: Getting your name or business’s name out there is a great way to build your brand and make a name for it. You can’t attract customers in the shadows.
How Much Money Do Entrepreneurs Make?
It is nearly impossible to present one single blanket figure for the average salary of an entrepreneur. Some entrepreneurs have earnings in the billions, whereas others may lose substantially amounts of money in operating their businesses. If sales are good and profit margins are high, an entrepreneur can make a great living, regardless of the industry they operate in.
Other entrepreneurs may own and operate part-time businesses as a secondary source of income, and may earn (or lose) a modest amount of money; while other entrepreneurs may experience slow periods in sales, but have high operating costs, resulting in losses.
Factors that determine how much money an entrepreneur (and their business) can make:
• The type of industry they operate within
• If they operate part-time or full time businesses
• The amount of sales they generate
• Their operating costs
• How much competition there is in their market
• How customers view the business and the brand versus competitors
Careers Similar to Entrepreneur
Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Entrepreneur, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
Interview with an Entrepreneur
Do you want to hear what a career as an entrepreneur is like, from the perspective of someone who’s successfully started their own business, and managed to make it an award-winning enterprise? Read the interview we've conducted with Michael Cathrea, owner of Resonate Music School & Studio, in Edmonton, Alberta.
Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an entrepreneur.
Alberta Learning and Information Service website: alis.alberta.ca
Canadian Franchise Association website: www.cfa.ca
McGill University Entrepreneurs Society website: www.mcgillentrepreneurs.com
Scholarships for Becoming an Entrepreneur
Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an Entrepreneur can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming an Entrepreneur: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an entrepreneur. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!