Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What to expect during your first year in a new business

Dear Imminent Entrepreneur

In my previous letter we looked at one crucial belief all entrepreneurs/business owners should have.  That is a rock solid belief that whatever they are working on, be it a project, idea or potential business, may just work. Entrepreneurs are inherently positive.

Remember the cynic in my previous letter? A cynic can tell you all the reasons why an idea won't work. To the cynic, it is easier to sit on the sideline and criticize others, not taking any risks of their own.

I've been cynical at times in my life, and believe me, being a cynic does not pay very well.

We must realize that we'll need wisdom to distinguish between people with valid criticism and the cynics in our lives. Ignore the cynics; they rarely have the entire picture.

Today, I would like to share a bit about what you may expect during your first year of running your own business. I've identified 10 things experience has taught me.  

1. Your income is not secure
Obviously, you're the boss now. You're responsible to ensure sales, revenues, and the payment of your employees (if you're employing).  The steady paycheck, you may have depended on for so long, is not  coming anymore; and worse, you are standing last in line for payment.

Your own payment depends on how much you make. In your first year, and thereafter, you'll have to master the art of managing your cash flow.  Without regular funds, your business will die.

2. You have to manage your own time
At your previous job someone may have guided you on how you had to spend your time.  You had projects, time lines, and goals to guide you.

You probably also had an overseer; someone like a boss or a manager, checking up on you. Well, now the overseer is missing, the boss is 'dead', sound good doesn't it?

But wait, now you have to provide your own guidance, direction, goals and time lines. In reality many new entrepreneurs become their own worst bosses, much worse and much more demanding, than the one they had previously in their jobs.

You must learn to manage your time well; in such a way that you'll be able stay healthy, prosperous, and without a broken family, while building your business. That's a real challenge.    

3. You have to set your own goals
Started simply; if you don't set the strategy and goals for your business, nothing's worth while is going to happen. Remember that success, almost always, follows careful planning.

4. You have to juggle many unfamiliar tasks
At your previous job, you've probably worked at a specific function in you boss' business, maybe accounting, IT, or some other function.

Now, you have to do that function, usually the technical work required by your business, in addition to an entire range of other functions.  Functions you may not necessarily be familiar with.

You'll have to devote time to all these functions. You should expect a steep learning curve, you should expect to be inundated at times, and also expect to drop some of the balls at times.  

5. You may have to live with temporary isolation
If you have moved out of an office environment, maybe to a home based setting, you should expect to feel lonely and isolated at times.  Especially, if you're planning to run a one man enterprise.  It's important to actively build a strong social network to support you in your endeavor.

6. You have to constantly evaluate your self-beliefs
It is a rare person who's able to remain positive and motivated at all times. At some times, especially during the hard times, you'll be wondering if you are doing the right thing.

Sometimes your confidence will waiver. During such times it is important to have a well developed strategy and a plan to follow. The hard times, are the times to work the plan, no matter how down and demotivated you are feeling.

7. You'll have to believe in a vision others may not yet see
Obviously, you'll be excited about your idea. If you're not passionate and hopeful about your business,  be very careful before proceeding with it.  But not everyone will be as excited about your idea as you are, and that's OK. It is your vision, and you'll have to carry and share it until the world picks up on your excitement.

8. You'll become personally involved  
It's highly likely that you'll become much more involved with your own business than you've been with your previous jobs. That's a good thing, it should give you much energy to drive the process with.

But, personal involvement may also amplify your failures. It easy, when something had not worked, to take the failure very personally. That may be highly demotivating and you'll have to develop the ability to evaluate failures objectively.
9. You'll reach your personal limitations very quickly
Remember what I said about the steep learning curve. Running a business is challenging and  you'll, very soon, reach a point where your own skills and talent are not enough. Where your time is just too limited, and you just cannot do everything your business requires, on your own.

To overcome this, you'll have to build a strong team of people to neutralize your weaknesses and constraints. You have to become a master at identifying, inspiring, and managing talent toward your vision.

10. You'll have to deal with reality of your business while remaining positive 
Sometimes your business will have very real problems. I think that a good entrepreneur is someone who is able to see those problems objectively, but without losing hope and giving up.

To quote George Clasen: "Life is a series of problems to be solved", and your business will be the source of many of those problems.

I am hoping that you'll look at these 10 points, thinking about how you are going to overcome these problems in your own business. Hopefully, one day you'll be able to impart what you've learnt to other potential entrepreneurs, teaching them how to also run a successful business.

Thanks for reading, wishing you all the best with your future business.


Your Friend in Business


If you have something to add, or some advice for potential entrepreneurs, please comment in the fields below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your insights, comments, and suggestions in response to the posting. Balanced Life SA aspires to be helping and respectful community. Irrelevant and obscene comments will be removed by moderators.