I’m a serial entrepreneur. I start things, build things and take risks. I originally became an entrepreneur more than 50 years ago because I wanted to improve the housing situation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I grew up. I wanted to prove you can be a “good guy” landlord while also turning a profit. I was studying at the University of Michigan at the time that I bought my first rooming house with $4,000 saved from small ventures started between the ages of 8 and 18. From there, I began purchasing more properties, gaining investors and growing my business.
I consider myself a very lucky person. Although I grew up without wealth or social privilege, I had strong Midwestern values and a lot of opportunities. Over the course of my career, I’ve been rich, I’ve lost it all, and I’ve even been forced into bankruptcy. At one point, I was so broke that almost no one thought there was any hope. But I came back.
Over the course of the last 50 years, I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to get started on an entrepreneurial journey.
1. Just do it
My first piece of advice is to stop talking about it and just do it. Jump in, take a risk and go for it. I’m not saying do something just to do it, but don’t talk yourself to death about it and don’t overthink it. A lot of people would never have tried something if they continued overthinking it, missing their opportunity. The best thing to do is to take a shot, try it and ask yourself “what is the worst thing that can happen?” Being an entrepreneur is exciting every day, and if you go into it knowing that it will take a lot of hard work and determination, you will find that it is immensely rewarding.
2. Focus on your mission
The most important thing is to fully believe in yourself and your mission, and to have an original business plan you are passionate about. Having a strategy and focus for a new business is critical, and surrounding yourself with others who also believe in your mission will take you far.
3. Be financially responsible
For many years, most new businesses are in what I call survival mode. Keeping a business afloat is, chiefly, all about cash and cash flow. If you run out of cash and can’t pay your bills, it’s over. If you have a plan and keep striving toward responsible growth, ultimately you will thrive and succeed. I suggest knowing where your business stands in terms of cash flow every day and ensuring that it is a key focus for your team.
As you can read in my new book, BOOM: Bridging the Opportunity Gap to Reignite Startups, I have gone through many highs and lows throughout my career. But I have never regretted jumping into business and pursuing entrepreneurship.
Originally published on Quora.
Bridging the Opportunity Gap to Reignite Startups
There is an alarming decades-long decline of new business startups facing the United States today. BOOM exposes the reasons behind this downward spiral and outlines strategies to solve the problem.