Today, I will be sharing with you the step by step process every entrepreneur must undergo when starting a business from scratch. This process is called the “Entrepreneurial process.” This is the same process that brings into being; both great and small businesses.
“In the game of entrepreneurship, the process is more important than the goal. When you start building a business, you begin a journey, a process. This process has a beginning and an ending and between the beginning and end lays a lot of challenges. You will win only if you remain faithful to the process.” – Rich Dad
Entrepreneurship is a process; a journey, not a destination. You can never build a successful business without undergoing the entrepreneurial process and there’s no exemption to this rule. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Mike Adenuga, Oprah Winfrey and Aliko Dangote; the richest black man in the world all went through this process.
“The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and continue to work. Life is a journey, not a destination. That’s also true in business; your objectives keep moving.” – Thomas J. Burrell
Before I proceed to highlight the phases of the entrepreneurial process, I think it’s worthwhile I let you know that not all who start this process will end it. There’s no big deal about it; it’s the norm. Such is life. Many will quit along the way so it’s up to you to decide if you will be one of the losers or winners.
The Entrepreneurial Process to Building a Business from scratch
1. Experience the entrepreneurial seizure
The entrepreneurial process usually begins with the entrepreneurial seizure. I think I first heard the term “entrepreneurial seizure” from the book “E-Myth Revisited.” Every entrepreneur experiences this seizure and you can know you’ve been affected by it when you begin to ask yourself any of these questions:
Why can’t I be my own boss?
I am tired of this 9-5 job?
I work so hard but my boss doesn’t recognize me.
Why am I working for my boss when I can go out on my own?
I am gifted, why can’t I make money with my gift?
“It’s within everybody’s grasp to be a CEO.” – Martha Stewart
Once you begin to nurture these perceptions, the entrepreneurial process has begun. It’s in this phase that you will begin to question conventional wisdom. During this stage, the primary keywords on your lips would be: Why, how, what, when, who and where.
2. Plan the business
Any entrepreneur who makes it through the first stage usually begins to draw up a plan of a proposed business venture. In your spare time, you will fantasize, scheme and plot. You will imagine yourself being at the helm of affairs. You will begin to analyze the possibilities of going ahead with your business idea; once you have drawn a business plan, know that you’ve just completed the phase two of the entrepreneurial process.
“A plan is a bridge to your dreams. Your job is to make the plan or bridge real, so that your dreams will become real. If all you do is stand on the side of the bank and dream of the other side, your dreams will forever be just dreams. First make your plans real and then your dreams will come true.” – Rich Dad
3. Make mistakes and learn
In the process of planning your business, you are bound to make some mistakes. Your mind will begin to show you reasons why building a business is not for you. You will begin to see reasons why you need your job more than ever. You will also experience some disappointments that will make you almost quit.
“The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, the size of your dream and how you handle disappointment along the way.” – Rich Dad
The sad truth is that many entrepreneurs don’t go beyond this phase of the process; their dreams die in the planning phase. I have seen entrepreneurs with solid business plan; back out of the process simply because no one wants to invest in their idea. I have seen entrepreneurs rewrite their business plan, year in year out; because they are held back by the fear of failure.
“The biggest challenge you have is to challenge your own self doubt and your laziness. It is your self doubt and your laziness that defines and limit who you are.” – Rich Dad
That’s why this third phase is all about making mistakes and learning. Even if no one wants to invest in your idea, keep learning and improving on your plan. You might make a couple of mistakes but don’t quit. If you can boldly forge ahead despite disappointments, you will move on to the next phase of the process.
“Underneath every mistake in business is a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs miss these lessons because they lament and blame others over the mistakes.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
“Like success, failure is many things to many people. With positive mental attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, and a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order to prepare to try again.” – W. Clement Stone
4. Start a Business
“Start small and dream big.” – Rich Dad
Many come up with bright ideas and write powerful business plans but only few ever dare to start a business. If you have gotten to this phase of the entrepreneurial process, I say congratulations.
“Starting a business is like building a ship and embarking on a voyage, armed with a plan, a map and a team. You will have to sail against storms, unpredictable weather and uncertainty. If your ship sinks, it’s either you quit or you swim back to shore, build a new ship and sail again.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
5. Sustain the business
Starting a business just the beginning of the game; sustaining that business is where the real challenge lies. This is where you fight to keep the business you have started afloat. You will have to handle competition, find customers, deal with critical business challenges, pay bills upon bills, deal with employees and so on. This is where the stress of running a business gets worst.
“Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight.” – Henry R. Luce
6. Make mistakes and learn
This is the phase where many new businesses go down. This phase is the reason why 99% of all small business startup fail in their first five years. At this point, silly business mistakes will be made that will result to loss of cash, customers or crucial employees. This is the point where you begin to regret why you ever started a business. If you are not strong hearted, you will let go the dream of building a business.
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs
“A mistake is a signal that it is time to learn something new, something you don’t know before.” – Rich Dad
What smart entrepreneurs do at this phase is to seek new answers. They assess themselves to see the necessary entrepreneurial skills that is lacking. They attend seminars, read books on business and entrepreneurship, find a business mentor or form strategic alliances.
“One of the great things about being willing to try new things and make mistakes is that making mistakes keeps you humble. People who are humble learn more than people who are arrogant.” – Rich Dad
“There are no mistakes in life, just learning opportunities.” – Rich Dad
7. Stick to the process
“You can always quit, so why quit now.” – Rich Dad
After seeking new answers, this is the phase where you implement the answers found on your business. It’s the phase where you take the bull by the horn and refuse to call it quit. Only few entrepreneurs ever get to this phase because it takes a lot of time, resources and commitment to stay on this phase. Getting to this phase might take about three to ten years from the point of starting the business.
“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.” – Aliko Dangote
8. Build a successful business
If you stick to the process without quitting, you will finally have the business of your dreams right in your hands. This is the phase where your business needs you no more because your presence or absence will have little impact on its growth. This is the phase where you celebrate your achievement. At this point, you can choose to either exit the business or stick with it. But regardless of the choice made, the money will keep flowing.
9. Count your wins or losses
Every successful entrepreneur usually comes to this phase. This is the phase where you reflect over the process of building a business; the business challenges you overcame, the games you won or lost and the business failures you have experienced. This is where you share your story of success or failure with others; it’s the phase where you decide if the entrepreneurial process was really worth undergoing.
10. Retire or repeat the process
This is the final phase of the entrepreneurial process. Less than 20% of all entrepreneurs that started the process get to this phase. At this phase, you are self made and you can choose to either retire or repeat the process. I said retire or repeat the process because I have seen entrepreneurs who start the process all over again even after building a successful business. Others will retire but come back to repeat the process because of the challenges and excitement it offers. So whatsoever choice you make is left for you to decide.
“I’m not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don’t have time for dying.” – Ingvar Kamprad
These are the ten phases that make up the entrepreneurial process. Remember, not all who started this process makes it to the end. Will you make it to the end of the process? Only you can decide your fate.