Starting a new business is hard, even if you bring a healthy amount of experience to the table. The challenging side of entrepreneurship is often overlooked, because the opportunities for being your own boss and blazing your own trail seem so inspiring. Yet, no matter what business you are creating, there will be times when you want to throw in the towel. So, I want to share some thoughts for anyone who is contemplating starting a new business venture.
Passion Only Goes So Far.
What’s your motivation for starting this new venture? Have you always had a desire to work in a certain industry, or use a favorite talent? Maybe you have the next best idea since Post-it notes. Maybe you are tired of working for someone else and you want to be your own boss and set your own schedule. Whatever the reason, take some time to really be certain that your reason is not an idealized perspective divorced from reality. Let’s say you have spent years in the publishing business, and you are ready to start your own e-magazine for woodworking. You have always enjoyed creating your own furniture and want to share great templates you have collected. You’ve done your research and believe there is a market for your new venture. You are excited, believe you have planned well with financial savings in place. Be prepared. Even with passion for the business, there will be times that are tough.
Less Free Time.
It takes years to build a successful business in which you can work on the business not for the business. Updating, improving, and monitoring is a never ending process. When you embark on your new business, you will be wearing many hats, until you can afford to hire and outsource some of the responsibilities. In the beginning, you may find yourself working all day on marketing, product selection, establishing the delivery systems, only to find yourself handling the bookkeeping at night. Entrepreneurship is not a 9-5 job. You will find, at least until the business is well established and you have others managing aspects of the company that the venture is 24/7.
You Can’t Lead Others until You Can Manage Yourself.
As the leader of the organization, everyone will be looking at the way you act and handle yourself, no matter what the situation. Time management with your own schedule and with your own set of priorities must be practiced well. You can’t lead by the numbers. That’s what managers do. You will need to inspire your team to believe in themselves, to keep persevering and work in office space that may not be as great as the office suites they left behind in their former employment. Yet by establishing yourself as an optimistic problem solver, others will follow your lead. Good leaders inspire people to believe in him or her; great leaders inspire people to believe in themselves.
Crisis in Confidence is Likely to Occur.
No one is going to be more critical of you than you. At times, the business situation can be stressful and at other times, frustrating. You thought things would be moving at a faster pace. You thought more clients would be on board by now. You begin to doubt yourself and your plans. Such self-doubt is common, at least at some point in the entrepreneurial adventure. Remember that self-doubt is defeated by self-confidence. Every competitive athlete knows this. Such advice is well heeded by new business owners as well. The best strategy is to make certain you have a network of colleagues and mentors who can support you along the way.
You’ve Got to Keep Learning or You Will Fall Behind the Competition
The challenging side of entrepreneurship includes a need for continuous learning. Maintaining a competitive edge and creating uncontested market space requires that you keep abreast of changing trends. You keep abreast of changing product lines, delivery systems, marketing tools and customer requests. Business strategy and operational improvements will be continuously updated with annual business plans and personnel training.
Cash-flow Really is King
Life can be terrifying when the money is not flowing into the coffers. You send out invoices, but have to wait-for what sometimes seems like an eternity to get payments. Yet, your vendors, suppliers and employees are expecting their payments on time or there will be penalties. My best advice is to budget conservatively and make certain that you have diversified revenue streams so that when the business is experiencing lean times, revenue is still available from different sources. Diversifying the client base helps as well so that you are not dependent on one or two major clients—who may decide to move their business elsewhere.
Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding, but planning well is key. Our economy is fueled by small business enterprises and entrepreneurs. Thanks for taking the risk. I wish you much prosperity and success.