In today’s competitive world, you need to have thick skin in order to be a successful entrepreneur. Success, setbacks, and failure play a big role in the entrepreneurial journey. Marc Filerman, Program CEO of German Accelerator Life Sciences, shares seven tips on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur:
1. It’s a roller coaster, don’t be scared: Entrepreneurship is filled with both agony and ecstasy. Founding a company certainly feels like one step forward followed by three steps backward. You will encounter ups and downs throughout this journey. Dealing with obstacles has to be a mix between firmly executing strategy and being flexible enough to change tactics.
2. Yes, you will fail, so what?: Failure is part of being an entrepreneur. Be mentally prepared that the road to success is an unpaved trail; there is no straightforward fast lane to success. Sometimes you don’t even know if you’re moving in the right direction or if you are moving at all. And guess what? You are not alone, and yes, it’s okay to fail, just be ready to move on. Failure offers opportunities to learn so use it to succeed. If the risk of failure frightens you, you may not be cut out to be an entrepreneur.
3. Tackle the hardest problems first: Face your fears and de-risk your business as early as you can. The vulnerabilities in the business will come sooner than you think. De-risking your business will help attract investment. Be efficient and use your money and resources wisely. Know that problems won’t disappear by themselves, if anything they tend to linger and grow the longer you ignore them, making it more difficult to solve. Don’t be afraid to make decisions!
4. Validate, validate, validate: You need to de-risk through searching. Searching is a scientific process. You must validate your problem, your customers, your solution, and your business model. The answers are often with your customers and partners, so get out there and listen to them. Don’t just believe in your gut-feeling, make sure you rely on feedback, facts, and findings.
5. Do your homework in advance, and do it well: When approaching investors, do your homework, and do it well: Come thoroughly prepared. Demonstrate deep knowledge of your customers, their environment, and the problem you’re solving. The reality is: Investors have a job to do. They do not invest so that you can take the time to figure out your business. They invest in growth and they naturally care more about their ROI than they care about you or your customers. Caring about them is your job, not theirs.
6. Your pitch deck better be in tip-top shape: As with any situation, the first impression counts and your pitch deck is often the very first glimpse of your company that potential investors see. You need a clear, complete, and compelling pitch deck to represent your company – It must convey a story and stand on its own. Focus less on science and product features, but rather on concrete and tangible benefits and your unique business.
7. Determination is the name of the game: To be successful you will have to be both determined and persistent, but don’t be blind and irrational. Embrace objections and develop solutions to address them. Don’t ignore resistance from customers, partners, or investors, but understand the environment you are trying to disrupt and create solutions with real value.