The 6 Life Stages Of An Entrepreneur

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You know what entrepreneurs have in common? It is considered that there are 6 stages every entrepreneur goes through - no matter if in a startup or company.

We tend to think that being an entrepreneur is not a process or a science and to some degree there is sense in that, but, there are things that we all do that are the same – we have our peaks and troughs, highs and lows. I call this the 6 life stages of being an entrepreneur, start-up or small business owner. Take a look:

“When we first start off as entrepreneurs we normally start with a partner but often we don’t fully understand the barriers and therefore can’t see the forest for the trees. We think we can see the bigger picture but we haven’t quite got all of our ducks in a row. By the time we make our way through the forest we tend to be alone. As we climb the rocky mountain of small business (where red tape and lack of capital can be rock falls) we encounter good and bad weather, peaks and troughs. By the time we know it the unexpected hits us, the storm gathers and its all down hill. When we hit rock bottom we realise we can see the forest for the trees again – in other words, we have learnt some lessons of what not to do next time. That’s when we are ready to start all over again – you see, before we succeed we often fail and there is nothing wrong with failing providing you learn the lessons being taught.”

#1: Going together

More than 80% of all entrepreneurs will start-up with one or more people in a partnership. Some last the distance but many don’t. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula all went together and were successful because each of them had a specific role to play. Jobs was an ideas man, Wozniak was the software guy and Markkula knew how to get the money to fund the ideas. Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft together because they too had complimentary skills. There are people who go it alone such as Michael Dell and Richard Branson but what you fast realise they weren’t alone in the sense that they had support networks in place from mentors and investors to family and friends. However, Dell and Branson knew they needed to acquire talent to fill gaps along the way in their own skill sets and knowledge.

#2 Not the forest for the trees

The biggest challenge is getting to a forest and suddenly realising you have different ideas, views and sense of direction to your other business partners. This is the critical first challenge in all start-ups as those differences of views and opinions can impact on strategic direction and put the entire business plan into jeopardy. The thing about entrepreneurs is that they can also be stubborn which means relationships are more likely to breakdown as opposed to trying to resolve the differences of opinion. Eventually as you exit the forest research shows that many people attempt to go it alone.

#3 Going it alone, climbing up hill, storm clouds gather

Many entrepreneurs don’t realise just how tough things are the first time around. As you go it alone you are confronted by all sorts of challenges from getting the product right and getting traction with the first customer. But, there are other challenges ranging from filing your taxes to doing the accounts, from managing the website and marketing to managing your own personal relationships. Most small business, start-ups and entrepreneurs have peaks and troughs as they attempt to navigate through the highs and lows of the small business start-up mountain range.

#4 Falling

Eventually we fall and the severity of the fall will always depend on how you handle yourself on the way down. Many see the fall as a complete failure and we go through so many emotions from questioning our ability and capacity to the veracity and substance of the idea we had that got us started in the first place.

#5 Seeing the forest for the trees

As we go through the process of unpacking what went right and what went wrong we soon realise that there are in fact a lot of lessons we can learn from the experience and they can be important. On the one hand it could be about how to better manager personal and professional relationships to the process of structuring the business, understanding cash-flow, how to manage customer expectations and so on – the truth is, there are a number of lessons that can be learnt in failure. By reflecting and grieving we eventually come to the same forest again – but this time, we can see the forest for the trees because the next time around we are more knowledgeable and experienced than before and that’s when;

#6 We are ready to start again

The lessons of understanding the 6 life stages of being an entrepreneur, start-up and small business are these:



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