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What it Takes to be a Successful Entrepreneur

Harry Lykostratis, CEO, founder, and lead software engineer at Open Medical, shares his insights on how to succeed as an entrepreneur.

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Some would say I'm an 'accidental entrepreneur.' 

My journey started unexpectedly when my passion for software programming morphed into a product that people wanted. It was never my intention to become an entrepreneur.

Throughout my experience, I've discovered 3 key ingredients that are essential for anyone aspiring to become a successful entrepreneur, and they should be considered before deciding to take this difficult path.

If this is the journey you want to embark on, make sure you ask yourself the following questions:

1. Would you do it for free?

The drive to become an entrepreneur boils down to two motivations: the desire to earn and the need to create.

In my case, I developed software to address a problem my colleagues and I were facing. Others were dealing with the same issue and wanted the software too. I was happy to create it for them and was giving it away for free.

Eventually, there came a point where there was so much appetite that I simply could not do it by myself anymore. I needed help, but that would mean I’d have to tell people that the software now had a price attached to it. I was uncomfortable asking for money at first because I was creating the software for the sake of creating and helping, not for the sake of being paid. That’s the key right there.

When I sit down with the other directors at Open Medical and they suggest new features for the platform, I always respond, "You’re paying me, so I’ll do it.” But the truth is, I’d do it even if I wasn’t being paid.

It’s not about getting paid; it’s about creating.

2. Who are you doing it for?

What you create has to be for your users, your customers, your market. 

It’s not about what you want. It’s about what they want. It’s still an exchange of value, but you cannot focus only on what you will get back. Your primary focus should be on the value you're giving to those who benefit from it. 

It has to be about your customers. Not your investors. Not your team. And certainly not yourself. Success isn't about having a team of 1,000 people and raising a million pounds. No, you're succeeding when 10 people give you a pound each.

Your motivation has to be intrinsically linked to the value you’re giving to your market. Being an entrepreneur is hard, but it's even harder if you don't have a clear understanding of the value you're providing. And it becomes nearly impossible if you lack the right motivation or absolute dedication.

3. Why are you doing it?

There has been a change in mindset when it comes to entrepreneurship.

This mentality seems to have its roots in social media. Influencers promised people they could have everything they wanted without putting in the hard work. They shared their own 'success stories' to further promote this idea. People bought into it, unaware that these influencers were being paid to push this narrative. They were, in reality, working very hard and cultivating a fresh customer base, paving the way for coaching services, self-help books, and the like.

Entrepreneurship was romanticised, and many people were drawn to it for the perceived lifestyle. It’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur takes hard work and, importantly, sacrifice. So don’t become an entrepreneur for the ‘lifestyle.’ 

And when it comes to measuring the impact of your work, don't look at your bank account. Look at the value you're delivering to your customers and users—they're the ones who really matter. Remember, being an entrepreneur isn't about filling your own pockets. It's about giving others value. 


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