For many individuals with the entrepreneurial spirit, starting a business is the ultimate dream. We all have ideas about what starting a company will be like, but very rarely is that how it plays out. We are sure you’ve heard about the hardships of entrepreneur life as well-as the perks that come with owning your own business, but we want you to understand that you can only prepare so much for this journey as there are things you should know that you normally wouldn’t find out until you get your feet wet.
Starting a new business is no easy task, but if you prepare yourself for the good, the bad, and the unknown, you will be better at getting through it. Here are five things people don’t tell you about starting a business.
- Just because your business idea doesn’t work one way, doesn’t mean it won’t work at all.
Vanessa Edwards said, “You have a big dream and you know exactly how you are going to get there – until it all changes. It’s great to have a business plan and strategy, but I wish I had known that it is totally OK if you have to change directions. In fact, that’s good business!”
All good businesses need a good idea to get going, right? But that doesn’t mean that a good idea is all businesses need to get going. At iStart, we consistently work with our incubators to develop a business plan. This plan could be considered a business’s road map to success. Though this road map is important to the success of a business, it is important to understand that you will have to switch gears some as you go. If you are unwilling to alter your business’s road map as you continue your journey, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
We understand that it can be difficult to create a business plan and then have to change things up as you go, but that is simply a part of the process. Don’t let the fear of changing things hold you back.
- You cannot measure your businesses success with sales alone; profit and impact are the true measure.
Does your business help others? Are you paying yourself a wage at all currently? These are the two questions we find to be extremely important as you are launching your business.
To figure out your impact, we recommend you discover more about your customer database. What does this data base look like? It is true that every company needs customers to grow. We have found that beyond the quantity of customers you have, the true measure of success is discovering how happy your customers are. Their satisfaction means continued business, and future customers due to word of mouth recommendations.
It is completely normal to be in a start-up position and have your business be in the red, but are you a year or more down the road and still not bringing in any money? If so, you may have a hobby on your hands – not a business. Sales represent the revenue that you bring in, but profitability is when you have money left over after deducting all your costs. Remember, you have to be making a living too!
- Starting a business is no easy task, so you better choose something that you love to do.
Entrepreneurial burnout is something we speak about often. Entrepreneurs work seemingly endless hours to make their organization a success. When you are an entrepreneur, time off is a term that sounds like it belongs in a fairy tale. With that said, if you are not doing something you love, you are setting yourself up for failure. Afterall, you will need to work harder and longer than the competition in order to make waves in your industry.
Entrepreneurship requires long hours, and if you don’t love what you are doing, I guarantee you that you will not find success in it. Don’t forget, when you love something and are passionate about it, passion is can be contagious. Passion will not only lead to an enjoyable and fulfilled life, but it will also lead to business success.
- Marketing and sales don’t matter if you don’t have the basics to your business built.
We have found the biggest entrepreneur myth to be that the key to success is advertising. The claim is that if you just get the door open and rally people to enter the door through advertising, you will be set. You will be set because those people will come back and bring their friends who will then bring their friends. Then when/if that momentum dies down, you will easily be able to ramp up your advertising more and your business will be set. In fact, a lot of times when startups get funding one of the first things, they do is pump money into advertising. At iStart, we consider this to be premature spending.
What we need you to understand is that without a solid business plan, your journey means nothing. We know firsthand that there is not enough money to fix a broken business. For example, if you do not lay out how you will spend your money, and you thus spend it incorrectly, your business can easily bankrupt. In turn, you must develop a sound business plan first. Then we recommend that you invest your money in your product. Your goal should be to ensure your product is perfect before choosing to spend any money advertising. This journey isn’t fun or flashy. It takes time, but in the end, you won’t regret it.
- Prepare yourself for rejection as you embark on this new journey.
Here is the thing, not everyone is going to love what you do, and it doesn’t just stop there. Not only will everyone not love what you do, but they will not always be nice about telling you that they don’t like your dream (or maybe even you for that matter).
There are so many reasons why this may happen, but what we need you to know is that in order to succeed you are going to have to learn to accept their feelings. We are not suggesting that you take those feelings to heart and thus quit your endeavor. We are merely wanting to remind you that you will hear the negative things about your company and/or product, and you must thicken your skin to be okay with it.
Most of us tend to become angry or frustrated when faced with rejection. Please know that that feeling is OK. Negative comments and rejection are a part of the entrepreneur process, and you just need to acknowledge the comment and move forward…even when it feels like a you took a dagger to the heart.
Whether you are an entrepreneur already, or you are thinking about starting your own business, we hope this article provides you with invaluable information that will along the way. Though we can’t guarantee the outcome of any new venture, we aim to help you stack the odds in your favor by providing the insight necessary to prepare yourself as you begin this journey.
If you are looking to start a business, but you aren’t sure where to begin, give us a call. Our business accelerator is currently accepting applications. We are entrepreneurs and understand how tough this journey can be, but the rewards of entrepreneurship is tremendous.