Be An Entrepreneur First

No matter what kind of business you have, and no matter what type of product or service you offer, you must be an entrepreneur first. Most Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs do not start out with an entrepreneurial mindset (I didn't), and that's OK. It is a process. It does not happen all at once. But just like what goes up must come down, if you don't train yourself to pursue entrepreneurship more than you pursue what you love to make or do, your business will fail.


For the vast majority of people, this requires a specific mindset shift. I made the shift after closing my retail store. It was great that I loved what I was doing, but it was not great that I loved what I was doing more than I loved filling a defined need in the marketplace.

This post is specifically for you if you have not yet made the mindset shift. If you have made the shift, you'll benefit from reviewing and embracing afresh these important principles. Here are 10 ways to ensure that you are an entrepreneur first.

1. Do the numbers

Your first job as an entrepreneur is to turn a profit. Know how much it costs to make and sell your products or services, and price them accordingly. Entrepreneurs don't just make money. Entrepreneurs make a profit.

2. Hire help

You cannot be consistently successful if you do everything yourself forever. Can't afford to hire help? See Number 10, below.

3. Know what your customers want to buy

What you like to buy is irrelevant. Produce what your customers like to buy. Ask them what they want, and then give it to them.

4. Systematize everything

Hobbyists wake up in the morning and say, “Yay! What shall I make today??!” Entrepreneurs wake up in the morning and say, “Yay! Here is my schedule for the day, go!”

5. Know what matters to your customers

When my husband calls me, it takes me five seconds to figure out exactly what he needs. When a member of the Indie Business Network calls me, it takes me ten seconds. That's how well you should know your customers and what is important to them.

6. Calendar everything

When will you blog? Which days of the week and what time? Calendar it.

When will you make sales calls? Which days of the week and what time? Calendar it.

When will you publish your newsletter? Which days of the month and what time? Calendar it.

Don't leave any of this to be done “when you feel like it.”

You get the idea. If it's not written down, chances are it will not happen.

7. Fall in love with what technology can do for your business

You don't have to love technology, but you do have to love what technology can do for your business. If you don't embrace technology, your business will fail.

8. Tell people NO

Hobbyists want to do everything. They have time to do everything; they are hobbyists. Entrepreneurs know that time is their most precious resource. Be gracious, but say “No” a lot.

9. Serve a specific niche

Entrepreneurs don't sell what everybody wants. Entrepreneurs sell what one person wants, and then they find that person over and over again.

10. Don't be cheap

While entrepreneurs love to save money, price is not the first thing they think of when buying something they need. Entrepreneurs don't buy things based on price. Entrepreneurs buy things based on whether or not they work. Price is secondary.


Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. If you have not embraced all of the entrepreneurial principles here, don't worry. It's a process. Track your progress and you'll gradually begin to see the change in your mindset. What an exciting time!


What do you think? Did I leave anything out? What do you think of the concept that we must all be entrepreneurs first? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.