How To Become an Entrepreneur: 8 Tips To Starting a Business

Feb. 18, 2021

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Many people see a magazine cover celebrating a famous entrepreneur or a news article featuring a successful funding round for a startup and think to themselves: “how did they do it?” 

Entrepreneurs are bright thinkers who have the tools to turn their vision into a viable business. If you aspire to start a business, what can you do now to become a successful entrepreneur? To answer this question, we asked entrepreneurs and business leaders about their entrepreneurial career path. What did they do to help them start their business? What tips do they have for someone starting a business? 

Here are eight tips to starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur:

  • Conduct informational interviews with entrepreneurs 

  • Find something you are passionate about

  • Prepare while you plan

  • Understand your customer space

  • Start saving now

  • Embrace change

  • Anticipate needs

  • Find a mentor


Conduct informational interviews with entrepreneurs 

I’d recommend interviewing other entrepreneurs about their experiences. A conversation with someone who has done it before helps remove unknowns, which can make the leap less scary. For me, I was fortunate enough to conduct informational interviews with some entrepreneurs I really admire, including the ultimate University of Arizona entrepreneur, Karl Eller. Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs reaffirms that you’re not that crazy, and the conversations can equip you with some knowledge to shorten the runway to success. Plus, for me, when someone takes 30 minutes to do an informational interview, the connection can provide the bit of confidence you need to take the first step. 

Brett Farmiloe ’06 BSBA (Accounting), CEO and Founder of Markitors

Find something you are passionate about

When you can convey your ideas and business objectives from a place of genuine excitement and thoughtfulness, it can go a long way. On the flip side, make sure you involve people who will challenge you to see the problems with your plans and fortify them as you go.

Joshua Schlag ’05 BS (Computer Science) ’11 MBA, Digital Marketing Manager at Pyramid Analytics

Prepare While You Plan

Entrepreneurship is a huge investment in terms of time, money, relationships and patience. You have to be absolutely sure that this is the path you want to pursue. Starting your own business will test you in many unexpected ways. Especially if you don't have the experience or the support you need from the start. Therefore, make sure to prepare as much as you can and plan, but also know that you might need to throw those plans any moment. If this occurs, it's always smart to seek help from a mentor.

Gerardo Lona Rios '16 BSBA (Management, Entrepreneurship), Founder and CEO, Breakthrough Advancement

Understand Your Customer Space

In most cases, becoming a good entrepreneur is going to be dependent on finding a problem, or an opportunity for improvement, and then providing a viable and consumable solution. Make sure you understand your space and take extra time to understand what you have to offer your customers. Part of this exercise should include creating personas and collecting empirical data to support your conclusion.

Andrew Horrigan '11 BSBA (MIS), Product Manager at Cisco

Start Saving Now

If you would like to become an entrepreneur, you need to have some money put aside. You read all the time about people who hit it big in a few months with some great idea. That's not what happens typically—be smart about it and save up some money to live on before you start.

Bruce Maxwell '04 MBA, Managing Director at MSI Management and Consulting

Embrace Change

The hardest part of becoming an entrepreneur is embracing change and risk. In order to be successful, you must be willing to bet on yourself and trust that you are going to find a way to make your business successful. To those about to start their business, my tip is to not be afraid to fail! This fear will hold you back from creating the company you are dreaming about. 

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Anticipate Needs

First, start with your targeted or ideal customer. Study their needs, and areas where they need help. Then work on creating a product or service that can anticipate their needs before they realize it.

Graham Curry ’13 MS MIS, Insight Global

Find a mentor

Starting a business, although rewarding, has many challenges. Find a mentor who has been in the same position as you, can give you advice on the next steps, and who you can turn to for support. By pulling from the experience of someone else, you will uncover tips or even key pieces of the puzzle that you might have overlooked.

Megan Hari ’14 BSBA (Marketing), Director of Marketing, Swoon


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