You can be your own boss! Music to your ears? Being an entrepreneur these days has become stylish. Many people say the job market is lacking, so why not start your own business? The fact is, many businesses do not make it to 5 years and even fewer get to the 10-year anniversary. My consulting company is celebrating its 10th year this year and in this article, I thought I would pass along a few things that might help you if you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business.
It’s Not Always Fun. Sure, being your own boss, working with people you like, setting your own schedule. Sounds like a dream job, doesn’t it? Most entrepreneurs will tell you they have many bosses. The bank is the boss. The customers are the bosses. Employees believe they should be put first and payroll stares you down every fifteen days. Your vendors want to sell you, they want interaction and they want to be paid on time. There’s a strong chance you will have a few sleepless nights and stressful days in your business. Don’t say you weren’t told.
Hiring people is not easy. If your business really takes off, you will need to hire some people. Some things you may be able to get done through sub-contractors. Your business is growing because of something you are doing as the leader. What happens to many entrepreneurs is they are great at starting a business but not very good at managing and growing one. Anything that takes you away from your circle of competence is costing your business more than if you paid an expert to do it. Anything that allows you to stay fully in the bull’s eye of your circle of competence will keep you growing. If your skill is customer acquisition, then why spend any time keeping the books. Don’t fold your own laundry, hire it done. Caveat: Really question whether you need the person. If you do based on my earlier premise, do it. If you don’t, don’t do it.
You must get customers. Nothing is more important. In these days of venture capital and start up funding, businesses can function for a while without producing any substantial revenue. That runs out. Fast. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. If you want get customers, before you launch your business, you have just exponentially increased your chances of success.
Work very hard to produce a profit. I challenge you right now to become profitable immediately. Many businesses settle for breaking even for years or even losing money for the first few. It is possible to deliver a profit if you manage wisely. Some people choke off their cash flow and profit by managing too tightly and being cheap. Some people spend too liberally and end up with to many expenses. There is a balance in which you can make the right moves to invest wisely, increase your customer growth and produce enough gross revenue to produce a nice bottom line. This should be a major goal for you in order to be successful in your business long term. It’s nice to finance your own operations rather than getting a lender to do it.
Do what you say you will do. This seems incredibly simple but it isn’t. I learned this working in my Grandfather’s store. He was so cautious about what he would agree to with customers because he knew he had to deliver and if he didn’t, trust was broken and he would more than likely lose that customer and then all the other customers or future customers that person was acquainted with. Today in this era of instant connection and social media, you better deliver. It is almost as if people love to complain on social media when they do not get the service or product they thought they were getting. Don’t over promise; just consistently deliver what you do. It doesn’t take as much to make people happy as you think it does, just don’t leave them unhappy.
If you have competition, don’t over focus on them. You must stay customer focused and competitively aware. In other words, keep your focus on the customer you serve. Always be innovating new ways to serve their needs. If you become too focused on the competition, you will work harder to keep up with what they are doing rather than doing what you do best. You should be abreast of what they are doing, but try not to over-react to it. Not only that, but there is usually room for two great businesses who operate in the same market. In most cases, it grows the market, it doesn’t shrink it. Some smart business people pray for good competitors, if they are both really good, it usually means both win really big.
Being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Just keep in mind, it isn’t easy. There will be rough days, rough weeks and rough months. Keep your head on straight, get plenty of advice and encouragement from the right people and do not ignore your loved ones. They will be your corner when it seems no one else is.