Is Starting A Business Really For You?
The other day on the metro I picked up a free newspaper called ‘be your own boss’ — a paper entirely focused on starting your own business.
This amazed me. There are plenty of entrepreneur magazines out there, and enough free, non-specific newspapers, but seeing a free paper so exclusively focused on entrepreneurship made me realise just how huge of an option starting your own business has become.
I live in London, UK, one of the most diverse, eclectic and entrepreneur-friendly cities in the world, which undoubtedly was a large influencer in my decision to become an entrepreneur. But having been through the charged highs and the sometimes horrendous lows of trying to build your own empire, I’m offering to balance expectations.
Owning a business isn’t just tough, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.
If you’re coming from a position of employment, the first thing you’ll have to get used to is not having a set paycheck coming in every month. In all likelihood, for the first few months you won’t any money coming in, and any that does will counteract costs or be invested back into the business.
Secondly, you’ll have to get used to working. All. The. Time.
One of the main differences in being an employee from being an entrepreneur is that employees have set working hours — for an entrepreneur, every hour is a potential working hour.
But the two main things you’ll need, and you’ll need them an absolute buckets, are dedication and perseverance. One of my previous businesses catered specifically to entrepreneurs and this is where I’ve seen a lot of startup owners can fail.
Times can get tough, really tough, and those times will test your resolve, your strength, your belief in yourself and your product. I myself lost motivation at times when I couldn’t the see the fruits for all my efforts, but these were the times when I learnt the most. When we’re forced to look at ourselves and everything we’re doing and ask ‘what can I change to make this work?’
What really helps with this is to remember you’re building something of your own, and whatever you’re doing, you need to make it successful (you wouldn’t bother doing it otherwise, right?).
But, if you’re like me and tend to let things drag if there’s a lack of deadline or if there’s no one to be accountable too, find someone. A business partner, a manager, a mentor, even a family member. When we know we’re going to be held to account, we generally get a lot more done, so find your accountabilibuddy (South Park anyone?).
Ok, it might sound like I’m just pushing doom and gloom at the prospect of starting your own business, but it is, quite literally, also one of THE most exciting things you will ever do.
You’ll embark on an adventure of a lifetime. You’ll start up a steep curve of learning and you’ll meet many, many people on the way. Some will be customers, clients or investors, others will be future hires, mentors or business partners, others yet will be competitors and people not-so-happy that you’re doing your own thing.
You’ll learn about yourself as an individual. How good you are at selling, marketing and promoting yourself and your business. What skills you have, what can be built on, what you need to delegate and what you need to outsource.
How you manage people and how you effectively interact with business partners and investors will be key to your self-learning. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively to get the most out of all these relationships. You’ll gain life-long skills doing all of this, whether your business becomes a success or not.
Your business will be your baby.
It will require constant attention when you start. It will need your time, your energy and it’ll demand you do your absolute best to nurture it until it can stand on its own two feet. But once you’ve built it to that point, once your business processes are in place and have started to cement, it will start to run with less input. This is the time when you start discerning the direction it goes in and focus on growth.
Eventually you’ll have a sustaining business which pays you more the larger it grows. All this while you do less work because your business processes are in place and your delegates and staff are handling the heavy lifting.
This is the dream, the goal of many an entrepreneur, and it CAN be reached. Just remember to bring your absolute determination, your utter perseverance and your constant openness to learning and improvement.
Oh, and one more thing, you will fail at many things along the way. A LOT.
Failure is the mother of all success. If we do not fail, we do not learn.
We don’t much reflect on a win and wonder how we could’ve done it better. We don’t make one mistake and give up, for then we would give up living. The toddler doesn’t try to stand 49 times and on its 50th thinks ‘standing isn’t really for me’.
Failure and subsequent reflection is one of the most effective ways to learn, so embrace the journey in its entirety, for the journey is life.