Everyone knows by now that building a successful business is more likely to be a bumpy ride on a rollercoaster than a routine walk in the park – you’ll probably get to your wit’s end on at least more than one occasion.
Despite the harsh realities, though, it’s kind of ironic that it seems pretty simple in the beginning. All that talk of coming up with an immaculate business plan and kickass model can be reduced to you just wanting to roll out an amazing product and having people pay for it because they can’t help it.
Then, there’s the hope that the business will sell enough to grow itself – you want to eventually hire lots of people and fulfill CEO responsibilities. And perhaps eventually delegate that role too to someone else and travel the world on a pristine yacht that is yours.
Well, that’s not exactly a bad idea to have at heart in the beginning – you could actually do with the “glass-half-full” kind of thinking when starting out – but it’d most likely take you all of the first 90 days of building a business to realize that there are really no fairytale runs. Absolutely none – not even a single exception.
Actually, the probability of not encountering struggles in business is about as good as the probability of finding an actual bigfoot. And that’s because most of the time, systems are looking for ways to go south more than ways to go right – it’s almost natural. Products fail, people quit, burnout happens, and you just have to be able to deal with all of that if the plan is to cut it.
There will be speed bumps on the road for certain, but knowing beforehand might just help save your wheel – so you might want to think of this as a heads-up. Now, here are four lessons many entrepreneurs have had to learn the hard way, but maybe today’s your lucky day and you don’t have to.
New business owners rarely get their first hires right. As a rookie in business, it’s easy for factors like cost and personal bias to weigh in heavily on who you make your first employees. And it usually seems okay at first – I mean, you got someone you like and on the cheap too – how can any of that go wrong?
Well, guess what? Thousands of ways, literally. You don’t want to hire people because they are cheap and you like them. It is your responsibility to your business to bring in those who are actually a good fit for the business – people who can actually get the job done and done well.
There’s better value in landing the best-skilled individuals. Chances are they will cost way more but in the long run, you will actually make and save more money because of the quality of their work and performance.
You know that first brilliant idea you had? The one you thought was going to be a gamechanger? Like it or not, it may prove no more than ‘building castles in the air’ in the end. I know it’s distressing, but reality rarely cares about people’s feelings.
Let’s say you actually went ahead to launch a product you truly love and believe in – it’s almost like having a newborn, you could almost take it up with anyone who dared call your baby ugly. But what if your baby really is ugly?
Okay, enough about babies. It’s actually important to believe in your idea – I mean, if you don’t, who will? – but what you should be mindful of, however, is thinking of that idea as the ultimate. It could be a fantastic idea alright, but it may not be as good as you think. Or even if it is, it is no guarantee that it will do as well.
So, don’t just hinge it all on a single, big idea that is expected to cause a big splash. The idea to be nimble and flexible enough to adapt your original idea to the real market situation. A business is just like any other project, tweaks and iterations will be required from time to time, and you have to be willing to change course entirely if necessary.
The goal is not to hit it big with the first idea that hit you (that would be nice alright, but that rarely happens). That’s why you should not hang on stubbornly to a ship that seems destined to sink. That first idea may have given you the start but nine times out of ten, that’s as far as it could ever have taken you.
Don’t be distraught if that idea you so love doesn’t lead you to the gold mine, in the end, you’ll probably love another fifty that same way. Test everything, learn your market, focus on the metrics that matter. Be prepared to switch strategy more times than you can remember.
There’s a saying that the world of entrepreneurship is not the turf of the faint-hearted – it is both physically and emotionally exerting.
Yes, it doesn’t get a lot of mentions but entrepreneurship does have a dark side – one that is plagued by issues with mental and physical health. A supporting statistic even has it that entrepreneurs are twice as likely to battle depression and more than five times more likely to struggle with ADHD than individuals who face a lot less pressure.
There are those who would raise their voice in favour of the argument that the entrepreneurial lifestyle tends to gravitate towards individuals with internal imbalances, but that does not make the assertion that building a business has a negative bearing on symptoms of depression and ADHD any less likely.
That said, one could be struggling with these conditions without even knowing it, or one could be put in danger of such conditions if proper attention is not paid to mental health and wellbeing.
Being the captain of the ship, your business can only do as well as you are. Mental fortitude does have a lot to do with how a business grows. And that’s why a premium is placed on health of mind and body as only then can one perform at optimum levels – both within and outside work.
The message is to keep yourself in good shape, don’t put your mental and physical health in jeopardy in pursuit of success in business – it’s too steep a price to pay and worse still, you won’t get the prize you seek.
Very little is said about this because the most common sermons preach that you go full throttle and sacrifice everything if need be. Trust me, your health is one thing you wouldn’t want to sacrifice, so be that entrepreneur who has eyes on longevity and sustainability. Eat healthily, exercise often, and give yourself a break from time to time.
Don’t we all just love to go from zero to a hundred in a flash? That’s how the world works these days – people don’t fuss as much over the guy who cracked the trillion-dollar-mark first as they do the one who made it happen in a week.
Don’t be misled by the chaos of today’s world, though – it’s still a long game, the road to success can be a long one.
So, you’ve finally gotten your business off the ground and you’re starting to dream even more than before. These days, you envision figures that have a lot of zeros in them and an office on the top floor of a magnificent corporate building with breathtaking view and genius-level employees milling about below you.
And sure, you could have all that. But don’t get carried away by the allure of the highlight reels of the media just yet. There’s plenty of ground to cover. A lot of time and work will most likely be required to build a company from the ground up.
By a stroke of luck, a perfect storm could blow in your direction and take you to your destination a lot faster but hopeful serendipitous handouts are not exactly strong foundations to build a business on. You need to come out for business with an eye for the long term too.
Who wouldn’t want to become an instant hit? But then, reality has it that the long, boring climb is the most likely obtainable. If it looks like it’s taking time, that’s exactly how it ‘should’ be. So, be patient – trust the process and enjoy the journey.
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