Exploring Entrepreneurship: Starting and Operating a Small Business

Launching a business takes time and effort, but self-motivated entrepreneurs are capable of transforming a small idea into a lucrative operation. Facebook serves as an excellent example. In early 2004, Mark Zuckerberg began to work on a dorm room project, aimed at providing Harvard students with a way to share photographs and personal information. The website Zuckerberg launched as a hobby is now the largest social media network in the world.

Individuals who are interested in entrepreneurship and starting and operating a small business must develop the skills to shape a concept into a company. Pursuing a relevant degree, such as an online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, can provide students with the expertise they’ll need to embark on the path toward becoming an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur takes an order for merchandise.

Who Are Entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs are people who find opportunities to create demand and make money off a concept or idea that enriches life or fulfills a need. For example, in 1975, Microsoft founder Bill Gates worked with Paul Allen, a childhood friend, to develop software for the first personal computers. Gates and Allen described Microsoft as a classic example of a garage startup.

In 1994, Jeff Bezos realized the internet was opening the door for new commerce opportunities. He quit his job, moved to Seattle, and opened a virtual bookstore out of his garage. Today, Amazon has a net worth of more than $160 billion.

In 2009, Uber co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp attended a conference in Paris. When they were unable to get a cab, they had an idea to develop a service that allowed users to order a ride through a smartphone app.

Other entrepreneurs have turned to online e-commerce platforms, such as Etsy and Shopify, to connect with customers. For example, craft producers use Etsy to sell their handmade items globally, and a recent Fast Company article highlights that approximately 1 billion businesses have opened virtual storefronts on Shopify. According to the article, between 2016 and 2018, the platform generated more than $183 billion in global economic activity.

Yet entrepreneurship isn’t just about coming up with a concept or an idea that solves a problem or makes life easier. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that economic conditions, such as the ability to secure venture capital funding, can play a role in the success of their idea, product, or service. Venture capital (VC) funds manage money for investors who want to obtain equity stakes in startup companies that show growth potential. Areas with more VCs are more likely to be home to a lot of startups, which explains why many companies have been founded in Seattle and Silicon Valley, for example.

Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs share a number of traits, such as analytical skills and versatility, that allow them to be successful in starting and growing businesses.

  • Analytical Skills: Entrepreneurs can identify an unfulfilled niche in the market and create a product or service that fills that gap. For example, companies such as GrubHub and UberEats solved the problem of restaurants that wanted to offer delivery but couldn’t afford to keep a driver on staff. This analysis of the market and conditions that influence it is important to the creation of a viable business concept.
  • Versatility: Entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed if they can wear multiple hats. For example, a computer coder with a great idea for an app must understand how to write a business plan, design eye-catching graphics, and market the product to potential investors and customers.
  • Passion and Work Ethic: The best idea in the world won’t get off the ground without an entrepreneur who is dedicated to refining the idea and seeing it come to fruition. Entrepreneurs must be passionate enough to push through obstacles and inspire others to believe in a concept, product, or service.
  • Self-Motivation and Discipline: Execution can be everything for a startup. It’s important for entrepreneurs to be self-starters and have the discipline to follow through on tasks, especially those they find challenging or boring.

Overcoming Challenges

Starting and operating a small business can be hard. Entrepreneurs often must overcome challenges to get their businesses off the ground. Securing funding, inspiring employees, and avoiding burnout are among the most common obstacles entrepreneurs face.

  • Funding: Entrepreneurs usually must secure startup funding, which can be difficult. Those who lack the ability to self-fund may opt to source cash from friends, family, or venture capital firms. Others turn to crowdfunding or angel investors, wealthy individuals who provide financial backing to entrepreneurs.
  • Inspiring Employees: A growing business may find it difficult to recruit employees who share its vision and are willing to put in the long hours of work needed to make it successful. Strong communication and interpersonal skills can help entrepreneurs inspire their staff members.
  • Burnout: It’s not unusual for entrepreneurs to live and breathe their business, but they may eventually suffer from burnout. Entrepreneurs should learn time management skills and build self-care activities, such as exercise and relaxation, into their often hectic schedules.

Set Yourself Up for Success with Maryville

Aspiring entrepreneurs need more than a great idea to be successful. They must understand business operations, be confident in their decision-making capabilities, and have strong leadership skills to get their businesses off the ground. From marketing to financial accounting, discover how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration can provide graduates with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to become successful entrepreneurs.

Recommended Reading

Important Life Lessons You Can Learn from a College Education

Bachelor’s in Business Administration Information Session

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CNBC, “What Does It Take to Be an Entrepreneur?”Encyclopedia Britannica, “Facebook”

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Jeff Bezos”

Entrepreneur, “The 8 Biggest Challenges for New Entrepreneurs”

Entrepreneur, “Who Is an Entrepreneur?”

Fast Company, “Shopify, on a Quest to Be the Anti-Amazon, Now Has 1 Million Businesses”

Forbes, “What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur? Five Lessons from VCs and Entrepreneurs”

Go Banking Rates, “How Much Is Amazon Worth?”

Investopedia, “The Story of Uber”

Investopedia, “Venture Capital Funds”

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration

The Startup, “10 Must-Have Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur”

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