Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

How to become an entrepreneur

By Julie Walters, President, Entrepreneurs Organization UK

If you’re wondering how to become an entrepreneur, I have great news for you. You don’t need to invest thousands of pounds in a degree or a diploma. Nor do you have to spend years climbing the corporate ladder. You don’t need a license or a certification from government. You don’t need to be the best in your field. And you don’t even need a unique idea (people start sandwich shops all the time!). You might be surprised to hear that you can enter the world of entrepreneurship today. All you need is the guts to take that leap from secure employment to working for yourself.

While there’s no specific qualification required, when I look across our global network of almost 10,000 successful entrepreneurs (each of whom runs a $1m+ company) I do see some common characteristics. Sure, some of them have PhDs, and others have had lucky breaks, but for most, the path to entrepreneurial success has been (and continues to be) paved with challenges. From sourcing quality staff to winning new business, raising finance and fighting against staunch competition and tough market conditions, entrepreneurship has never been easy – a truth that is echoed in the stories of all of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs was once kicked out of his own company. Bill Gates’ first company, Traf-O-Data failed. James Dyson had over 5,000 failed attempts at his vacuum cleaner before hitting the jackpot.

In fact, having the true determination and unflinching optimism in the face of multiple obstacles is, for me, the common thread that connects every successful entrepreneur in the world.

So if you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to first recognise that it’s going to be tough – possibly more so than anything else you’ve been through in your life.  And then you need to build a support system around you that will help you get through the inevitable challenges – many of which will be completely new to you (for our members, that’s through peer-to-peer learning opportunities). Once you’ve done that, the rest becomes far easier to manage.

Your entrepreneurship journey will be incredible. You’ll learn more about business than any university degree could teach you. You’ll learn more about yourself than you could possibly imagine. You’ll find more time than you knew you had. You’ll find your life inextricably tied to your business. And if you can roll with the punches, you will almost certainly be a success.

What is an entrepreneur? Read the introduction to our entrepreneur series.