Ten rules for entrepreneurs to live by

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The most successful entrepreneurs are those who do what they love. It allows for great resilience and staying power, even when they are weary or disappointed.

The life of an entrepreneur is different from those that are employed in a 9-to-5 job in many ways – one of which is the extra challenges and stress entrepreneurs experience with managing and being solely responsible for their own business.

This is according to Gerrie van Biljon, executive director at Business Partners, who says that despite taking such a challenging path in life, entrepreneurs continue to thrive. “This is largely because entrepreneurs see the world not as it is, but as it can be, and then go about changing it.”

Van Biljon believes that the answer to their success lies in their disciplined attitude which, although it varies from entrepreneur to entrepreneur, can generally be described in the following ten rules that they live by:

1. Believe in yourself: Entrepreneurs are focused and tend to maintain a strong belief in their ability to achieve their goals. They get out of bed in the mornings believing that they have something meaningful to achieve and a legacy to leave behind. These are both powerful drivers that helps to keep them going even when times are tough.

2. Never stop investing in yourself: Many successful entrepreneurs are well known for not completing university or high school, but these stories do not indicate that entrepreneurs are not interested in learning. On the contrary, they are voracious learners, whether by reading, taking courses, listening to coaches, mentors or the experts around them. The aim of learning is continual self-improvement and therefore it does not need to be done in a formal environment.

3. Pursue your passion relentlessly: The most successful entrepreneurs are those who do what they love. It allows for great resilience and staying power, even when they are weary or disappointed.

4. Surround yourself with the right people: Although entrepreneurship is a do-it-yourself project in a certain sense, it is simply too difficult an undertaking to do on your own. One of the most important rules of entrepreneurship is to find the right people, convince them to join the enterprise, and then forge a team that the work can be shared with. Employees should be chosen for skills and values that complement the owner’s own set of skills and values.

5. Grow your network: Just like entrepreneurs continuously build their teams inside their businesses, they grow their network of investors, advisors, suppliers, associates and customers outside of it.

6. Promote yourself and your business: Entrepreneurs never pass up an opportunity to promote themselves, their vision or their enterprise, irrespective of whether it is done via their business interactions or at social occasions. It need not be tiresome or false and if it is done with sincerity and respect, it can be engaging and inspiring, and can win over not only customers, but also potential investors, employees, partners and suppliers.

7. Learn how to manage risk: For entrepreneurs, risk comes with the territory. They simply cannot avoid it altogether. The rule is to manage risk, mitigate it wherever possible, and to constantly hedge against it. For example, the greatest risk facing most growing businesses is death by cash-flow crisis. Entrepreneurs who survive are those who remain acutely aware of their cash-flow situation so that they can see the crunch coming. A good example of hedging against risk is where an enterprise cultivates several smaller customers despite the fact that it has one dominant client. Should that larger client disappear, the business will have other clients to pull them through.

8. Work hard: In entrepreneurship there are no short cuts or half-measures. Once a business is established, entrepreneurs are entirely dedicated, even if it means putting in twelve-hour days for many years.

9. Stay innovative: One innovative idea is seldom enough to carry a business for longer than a couple of years. The most resilient businesses are those that adopt innovation as a broad approach to whatever they do, especially when it comes to taking feedback from their customers seriously and trying to incorporate it into their products and services. It is not always comfortable, because the disruption caused by innovation prevents any business from settling into a comfortable routines. It also requires a certain tolerance to making mistakes.

10. Take care of yourself: Successful businesses are built on the foundations of healthy bodies and minds. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Staying the course requires striking the right balance between exertion and rest, and being aware of the warning signals that your body sends you from time to time.