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Becoming an entrepreneur

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Don't over plan - start now and drive a taxi. And don't think you have invented the new Facebook.

What does an entrepreneur do?

As an entrepreneur you can make anything possible. Everything from starting your own company to developing a product or selling a service. Many entrepreneurs starting up at the moment are freelancers - doing anything from writering to programming. Many are technology-based. You might start a shop or provide consulting services, for example, on search engine optimization. Some become entrepreneurs out of necessity, because they are out of work, some do it because they think it is a flexible way of living, or because they just cannot help it.

Who can become an entrepreneur?

Anyone can become entrepreneurs. But that doesn't mean it is easy. You must make up your mind whether you are suitable for it. Entrepreneurs are supposed to be multi-talented: you must have a good idea and have the drive to get it started. You must be able to obtain capital, promote your product and get the product sold. It takes all sorts of different disciplines - everything from writing, maths and selling. You must be a handyman at first, until you can hire sales people or consultants. You do not have to be able to do everything from the beginning - if there is something you don't knowyou must of course ask for help.

And then you also need to be able to take risks! Being an entrepreneur is definitely not for people who like safety and a predictable life.

When should I start?

There is no better time to start a business than when you are done as a student. You do not have the high costs of different things and you often can have a lot of time and lots of energy. Hopefully you'll also have a large network of people you know from studies. My best advice is to start as early as possible, preferably while studying. The sooner you start, the better. The day you first live in an apartment and have a wife, a dog and a full time job, it becomes ten times harder.

Do not over plan things. It is important to get started. Every time I have started a business, it never ended where I had expected it would at the beginning. Start with what you think is fun to make. Stick at it for three to five years and you'll probably be successful.

Entrepreneurship is an evolution. You start out with not knowing much and then you learn things along the way.

How do you start a business?

You must have a working prototype and a team of people who can support you. And then you have to have made the first sale. If you can say: "We are four guys who have been doing this in our spare time and even funded it. We have it up and running, and we have made our first sale" it is an entirely different matter. You are suddenly strong as you can prove to an investor that the idea holds, because it has translated into income, and then they are willing to invest. If you are not willing to invest everything you have, then you can forget it. There won't be anyone else who will invest.

And everything you have as a student is not very much other than time. So if you are too proud to drive a taxi at the weekend, then you'll also be too proud to accept other people's money. I drove a taxi. It is flexible, and you can almost decide how much money you will earn within reasonable limits. If you are not willing to graft don't make plans to be an entrepeneur.

It is clear that this disqualifies 95% of people, because the vast majority, who want to be entrepreneurs who approach me are not willing to sacrifice anything.

What is a good idea?

After The Social Network (film about Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg) was published I received about 50 inquiries from people who think they had invented the new facebook. I call them the "Bare-lige" (only right) people. They think they have a good idea so they must be the "only" one to have thought about making and marketing it. The idea is one percent, 99 percent is marketing, money, sales, management, blood, sweat and tears ...

What constitutes a project is that you believe in your stuff, that you will bleed to get to where you need to be. An entrepreneurial process is not a 100-meter race, it's a marathon. It takes 3-5 years to make it from the moment of getting seriously started before you can make money from it - and then of course you'll possibly need to work a taxi job on the side.

How can I achieve success?

You must first and foremost not think that you can control and plan everything. Entrepreneurship is an evolution. You start out with not knowing much and then you learn things along the way. You should not make complicated long term plans. Entrepreneurship is the opposite of going to school. Going to school is a long planning process - entrepreneurship is to do things. That's the mistake I often see academics make: that of planning and over complicating everything. Progress must be an objective. Every day is a new exciting day when there will be unforeseen things, the good and the bad kind.

You have the passion inside yourself and you have to find out who you are as a person and what it is you're good at.

But how can I make money?

You have to be passionate about what you do and be incapable of not doing it. If you do it because you want to be rich, you won't experience this. Whatever your passion is, it is that which must be your driving force. But when we're talking about capital: passion doesn't count for anything. If you have a good idea but you are a freshly baked candidate, then it is you who must fund it.

How do I find my passion?

You have it inside yourself and you have to find out who you are as a person and what it is you're good at. A passion is a microbe that sits in your body, that makes you want to reach your goal almost regardless of the consequences for yourself. People's passions vary greatly. It can be anything from a passion that is rooted in a product that you would like to invent, a talent such as writing or a talent for sales.

Go out and network with a lot of people write on, chat with family and friends and take some long walks. What do your family and friends say you're good at? What makes your day a good day? What is it that you are always looking forward to doing? What did you get good grades in? You have to find out what your drive, passion and skills are in life. The funny thing is that these three things are usually pointing in the same direction. It's rare to hear about someone at school who had a passion for a subject but then gets bad grades in it.

How do I convert my passion into a business?

The moment you become aware of what your drive and your passion is you will start seeing opportunities. Just like when you buy a red car you suddenly notice all the other red cars. Once you find out who you are and what you think is fun - then the world is suddenly more simple. Then you should initially try to ignore whether there is money in things, and then you realize what your options are. Is it an industry that is growing? Is it an industry where you have the opportunity to be a big player? If you would like to have a horse stud start importing riding crops from China and sell them in a shop. Get started with something that tastes a little of what you want and work your way slowly towards it.


Martin Thorborgs best advice:

  1. Start with your passion and your skills
  2. Start today- especially if you are a student or a recent graduate, there is no better time
  3. Start something simple that does not require capital
  4. Work your way slowly towards your dream. The journey is the goal and you can't plan how to get t your goal anyway
  5. Don't look for capital - you won't find it
  6. Earn money while you are an entrepreneur (drive a taxi!)
  7. Be prepared for it to take 3-5 years before you achieve success
  8. Network. Sharing your udeas will make them stronger. Use

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