What defines entrepreneurial success? Is it when you manage to make a decent living off your business, or when you’ve managed to sell your company for a couple million and can live the rest of your life in comfortable retirement somewhere in Europe? The answer is different for everyone, but those who only see staring a business as a quick way to earn a lot of money and not work will be the first to fail.

Being an entrepreneur challenges everything about the way you’ve been brought up. Children are taught to plan for a job, study hard, and work diligently for someone else until they’re old enough to be grandparents. That probably isn’t the life you want. Opening your own business is a way to gain financial and professional independence, but it’s not as easy as all the guides out there will have you believe. Before you decide to launch a business, you need to take stock of your life and make some changes that will put you on the road to success.

Learn Basic Skills

Before you can run a business well, you need to know how one works. Learn everything you can in your current position, even if it isn’t related to your business’s niche. There are so many hard and soft skills you learn through work that help you manage your own business later. People who don’t know how to communicate with others, how to manage their time, and how to be humble are not going to be able to perform well as entrepreneurs. It’s not all about ambition; you need to back your dreams up with real skills that can crossover into your own endeavors. For example, a very important skill to learn is public speaking. Your ability to effectively communicate will help you draw in the right clients and investors. You can sign up for public speaking classes on thought-leader.com, and by watching past TEDx speakers, you can learn how to effectively present your company and ideas.

Be a Consumer

By putting yourself in the shoes of your potential customers, you’ll be able to gain a better perspective on what they need from a business. If you want to open an air conditioning repair company, look at different ones near you. How do they present themselves online? What services do they offer? Which ones have the strongest reviews, and which ones have the worst? Act like a consumer, but think like a professional. This is how you can identify weaknesses in a market that become the assets of your future company.

Simplify Your Finances

Make a budget, and stick with it. Stop overspending. Open a savings account. These are three core habits of strong personal finance that will be critical to your business. You should also examine your current debts and figure out how they’ll factor in your company’s profit. College and training costs factor into account as well. If you decide to further your education, you may want to take out private loans for grad school. How much you borrow and your repayment timeline will affect your business; you have to continually assess how personal investments affect your financial health in the long run.

Cut Negative People Out of Your Life

Who you associate with is a reflection of who you are. Your mindset changes based on the energy you receive from the people around you. There’s already enough nervousness and self-doubt in being an entrepreneur; the last thing you need are naysayers who make you question yourself, invalidate your ambitions, or make you feel like anything less than capable. Focus on keeping a few close friends, and cut ties with anyone who drains you emotionally. You don’t always need a theatrical exit; just unfollowing, muting, or blocking on social media can do the trick.

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