Despite what various Instagram influencers are telling you, owning and operating a business is far from sunshine and rainbows all the way. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Starting a company is often a taxing process that will test your mettle and make you question all your life choices that led to that decision. Even if you dedicate every ounce of your attention and pour blood, sweat, and tears into your company, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. Things that you have never before thought about, like branding, suddenly demand your undivided attention and that can be overwhelming. That is why it is important to learn about the process before you start, so you may be familiar with the challenges that lay ahead. Hopefully, you will find some useful tips below that will help you stay away from the most common pitfalls of owning a business.
Escaping the Rat Race
Most people who dream of escaping their cubicle jobs fantasize about freedom, thinking that owning their business will grant them liberty and allowing them to only focus on more glamorous aspects of running a company. People who actually try turning that dream into reality quickly learn just how delusional that notion is. Do you think that 9 to 5 grind is existing? Try doing it 24/7, because that will be your working hours once you start a company. Owning a business is the biggest commitment most people ever face, exacting a heavy toll on their time and energy. Many startups have failed in their first year because the owners simply didn’t realize just how much hard work and dedication it takes to get a company off the ground and make it a profitable enterprise. If you are not ready for this, perhaps you should forget about the whole thing before you sink too much of your time and money into something you are not ready to see through.
Back to School
Hopefully, you enjoy learning, because educating yourself will take up a lot of your time. Even things you are familiar with take a whole new meaning once you start looking at them through a prism of a business owner. For instance, you may be opening a startup dealing with finance, so you will have to learn how to trade, or acquire some other critical skill that is crucial to your core business. This time, however, you won’t have any teachers monitoring your progress, and every ounce of motivation needed you will have to supply yourself. Perhaps giving yourself detention may help you apply yourself.
You Can’t Do It Alone
Regardless of how smart or knowledgeable you are, making it alone in today’s world is simply not an option. Even geniuses like Bill Gates had to rely on their teams to accomplish a vast majority of tasks they were unable to perform, starting from mundane things like sales or SEO and SEM (yes, those are real acronyms and you need to learn what they mean at least) to supplying crucial ideas in project development. Surrounding yourself with a team of clever and capable people will probably be the best decision you have ever made in your business career. Collaboration is the key to success and how successful your company is going to depend largely on the team you have gathered around you.
It Is Going to Be Hard
Don’t fool yourself, there is no shortcut to success. You will have to work your butt off for everything and even then you may fail just the same. It will take a tremendous amount of sacrifice and a truckload of stress to get from where you are to where you want to be and it is not for the faint of heart. Forget about long weekends, vacations, ski trips, dinners in fancy restaurants. Even things like ordinary comfort or occasional afternoon nap become unreachable goals for new business owners, as their companies take every ounce of their time and money, leaving little space for life’s pleasures, regardless of how small they are. There may come a time when you can afford to spend time on those things again, but it won’t be soon.
In for a long haul
Despite what various Internet gurus tell you, success never comes overnight. Each person who has suddenly become successful has sacrificed countless hours improving themselves and their company, working days on end on every aspect of their business before they hit a jackpot. It takes about two years on average for a new company to start seeing some measure of success. During those two years, there will be a massive discrepancy between the efforts you are putting in and the reward you are getting, and you better be prepared to push on, regardless of how discouraged you may feel at times. The grind is a reality for all new business owners and there are no shortcuts that will help you avoid it. It is all about sacrificing for future gains and not many people have the will or self-discipline for it. You better decide quickly whether you are one of those few who have it, or you may be in for a rude awakening down the road.
A Great Idea is Just the Start
People usually think that one great idea is all that separates them from a life of luxury, tropical islands, and private jets. The reality is that even the greatest idea is just a start, not even the first step and that there is a massive chasm between an idea and a successful company selling it. Not all of us are equipped to bridge that chasm and most people wouldn’t even know how to start. The good news is that almost all the skills you need can be learned, as long as you have the dedication and motivation to commit yourself. The harsh truth is that you may be better off selling your idea to an existing company that can develop it properly than trying on your own and making a mess of your life, not to mention ruining a perfectly good idea in the process.
Be Honest in Your Assessment
People tend to get carried away in their dreams, basing their future on assumptions that aren’t based in reality. We are all inherently biased when it comes to our ideas and it is only natural that you assume your product will be an easy sell, but it is imperative that you keep a cool head when making any market prediction. One way to achieve this is to conduct impartial research that will confirm your predictions. You may think that your product or service is cool, but it is not your opinion that counts, but rather your customers’. Those two don’t always coincide and you may need some outside perspective before going all in.
This is one of the changes that people are least prepared for. Once you start a company, it becomes a focal point of your life. Your friends, your hobbies, even your family often take back seat to it and you will catch a lot of flak for it. Trying to explain that you don’t really have a choice isn’t going to cut it and sooner or later you will have to make a choice and decide what is more important to you. Being a business owner, especially a new one, will put a strain on all your relationships and test them. It is up to you to decide whether you can live with that kind of pressure.
Perseverance is the Key
Winston Churchill once said: “Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.” Old Winnie knew a lot about failures, but in the end, he was successful and that is all that counts. Nobody cares how many failures Jeff Bezos had or how many Apple products flopped. In the long run, all that matters is on what note you finished. As long as you manage to be successful, nobody will bat an eye on your previous failures and you should neither. And there will be failures and bad decisions, that part is inevitable. How you deal with them is what is important and how fast you recover from occasional faceplant is a true measure of your character and your will to succeed.
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to start a company is that they are trying to get away from their lives and are willing to risk everything to do it. In a classic “grass is always greener” situation, they have convinced themselves that everything will be all right just as soon as they leave their job and start their new career as entrepreneurs. By painting a pretty picture of their new life, they completely ignore the hardships they will encounter and set themselves for a disappointment down the road. Don’t be one of them and weigh your options carefully before making one of the biggest changes in your life.