Everyone knows starting a business is hard. Building your own company from the ground up requires dedication, innovation, and the drive to see through your vision to the end. Being financially comfortable and knowing the right people certainly makes things a lot easier, but it’s not essential. Absolutely anyone can start a business, without any money or connections, as long as they have a great idea and the right mindset. And a little bit of luck goes a long way too.
If you’re in the process of starting your own business or just have dreams of running a company someday, you probably have a good idea of what it would be like. You’re probably picturing yourself running caffeine-fueled planning sessions well into the early hours, making phone calls to clients on the go, and managing a team of bright young things in your shiny new office. These dreams can look very glamorous and exciting in your imagination, but the reality is often a lot different. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes when running your own business, and not all of it is pretty. To paraphrase a famous quotation: companies are like sausages; you should never watch either one being made.
Before you embark on your business journey, it would be wise to brush up on what is really involved in the process. And whether your business venture is a clothes outlet, a law firm, or a tech startup, the fundamentals are the same. To help you on your way, here are five things no one tells you about starting a business.
There will be extreme highs and lows
Running a business is a rollercoaster. There will be days when everything is going your way, and you can hardly believe your luck. You will be bringing in new clients, seeing the money roll in, and fighting off new opportunities left, right, and center. These are the times when you feel like everything is going to plan, and all your hard work is paying off. But there will also be days that are awful. When nothing goes right, and you can’t see a way out of your problems. When you can’t get any new business, and it seems like no one is interested in your company. You will have sleepless nights and moments of self-doubt, and you need to push through these hard times if you want to see success.
The worst thing is that, in addition to these extreme highs and lows, there will rarely be anything in between. You will either be ecstatic or miserable, elated or downhearted. There is seldom a happy medium in business, and the sooner you realize this, the better.
A network is essential
You can’t get very far in business if you don’t put yourself out there and meet the right people. Although business is primarily about hard work and making the right decisions, it is also about making connections. Having a solid, well-established network will open you up to new business opportunities and meet a vast number of people who may become clients, partners, suppliers, or investors. Shaking hands and handing out business cards will help you to spread the word about your business and establish yourself in the industry. Even if you’re a solopreneur with few business contacts, there are many ways to grow your network. Find business networking events near you and make an effort to meet people who might prove useful contacts. Always exchange contact details and make sure to follow up with people afterward. You can also connect with people on LinkedIn or through their websites and send them a message. Surrounding yourself with the right people from the start can help you enormously when you’re further along down the road.
Your business will be your life
Perhaps you’ve read books and articles about “The Four Hour Work Week” and decided that you want to start a business because it will allow you to earn huge sums of money while relaxing on a Caribbean beach with a cocktail in your hand. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want your business to be a source of passive income and work minimal hours, you will need to put in a huge amount of work in the beginning. Only once it’s a massive enterprise with a vast team of staff to delegate to is this even a remote possibility. If this is your sole reason behind your business venture, then it’s probably time to call it quits. You need to be prepared for your business to effectively become your life, at least in the early stages. Where most office workers put in 40 hour work weeks, you are likely to be working closer to 100 hours. You will spend all your free time building your business. But if it is truly your passion, you won’t mind.
An idea is not enough
You might have the most unique business idea the world has ever seen. It might have an enormous market and benefit the entire planet. It could be the perfect product. But this idea is nothing on its own. It’s how you execute this idea that really matters. If you think you have a billion-dollar idea, the chances are that someone has had it before but not had the motivation or the skill to put it into action. You can’t rest on your laurels. You need to take this idea and run with it. Formulate a solid business plan and put the work in to see it through to completion.
A mentor is invaluable
Some business owners fall at the first hurdle because they are too proud to seek help. But advice from someone who has been in your shoes and started their own business will prove more useful than any book or article you can read. Getting business help from a mentor will allow you to gain a new perspective on your ideas and plans and give you a much-needed push in the right direction.
In conclusion, starting your own business is a lot harder than many people believe it to be. Get as much advice as you can and be prepared to dedicate a lot of your time to achieving your goal, and in the end, your hard work will pay off.