I’ve been speaking to people, and I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the first quarter of a new year or if there’s more confidence in the economy, but I’ve realized that many more people are looking to start their own businesses. As a business owner and social entrepreneur, I think that’s a great thing.
I’m often asked about my thoughts about starting a new venture, and candidly, I love the adrenaline rush, vision driving and strategy development of a new business opportunity. If you’ve been thinking about beginning a new company, there’s no time like the present to start to get yourself into the entrepreneurial mindset to consider if it makes sense for you.
If I were speaking to someone right now starting off as a new business owner for the first time, there are three essential things I would suggest they keep in mind:
- Do You Really Want to Be an Entrepreneur?
The first question is the toughest, but you’ve got to sit with it for a while. I’ve spoken to many people along the way who have started a business, and then have fallen flat on their face and returned to the safe embrace of a 9 to 5 job. Being a business owner is not as “glamorous” as it may appear.
Sure, you’ll have a flexible schedule (on occasion) and are the final decision maker on large and small decisions, but being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. The truth is you will never work as hard as you do than when you’re a business owner, particularly in the early years. Twelve hour plus days, including weekends, is not uncommon.
Being a business owner means it’s all on you. You may have other people working with you. You may be one of those leaders who allows his team of professionals to be the professionals they are, but as an entrepreneur, your responsibility is to understand every area of your business: sales, marketing, legal, finance and accounting, administrative, marketing, research and development, product development, etc. It takes a great deal of time to know all areas of your business and make sure they are working correctly. It’s an endless process.
- Do You Really Want to go into Business with Your Friends and Family?
Many times, particularly with small businesses, you’ll have friends or family members decide to go into business together. It makes sense to want to go into business with people you know and trust, but do you want to do that? If there is anything that comes up your relationships can be affected.
A great scenario is this one: you’re working 12 hour days and doing great in your areas of responsibility. Your business partner, and good buddy, perhaps is not as hard working and as disciplined as you are and so resentment begins to build. That’s a recipe for conflict and the likelihood that your business will survive with internal friction exponentially decreases with the increase in tension.
Another possibility is that you don’t go into business with any friend or family as your partner, but perhaps you decide to hire that same good buddy to be one of your first employees because you trust him. Again, what happens if he’s not putting in the hours or work that you think is essential for business success? There have been countless examples of business owners who partnered or hired friends or family only to be in a situation where the business has suffered (as well as the relationship) because of anything from work styles to fraud. It’s very tough to separate your business from your relationships without potentially ruining them.
- Decide if You’re the Cupcake Baker or the Business Owner
Many people have a passion for something in their lives, and that’s great. Perhaps they love making cupcakes, or they love music and want to sell instruments. Whatever is your passion or interest, if you have one, you will not be only doing that work. As the business owner, the most crucial part of your business is a vision, sales, etc. and the path the company as laid out in your business plan.
If you love painting and you decide to open up a paint shop, you will not be spending your day painting. You will spend your day selling paint, dealing with customers and managing the books. Same goes for cupcakes or even widgets. The business owner that wants to grow his or her company is not going to be baking cupcakes exclusively but also running the business.
If you’re looking to grow, you’ve got to focus on the total “business.” As a business owner, the cupcake making, painting, music or widget making will be only one element, but it’s certainly not the “business.” The business is the promotion of your product, the price point, finances, customers, cash register, accounts receivables and payables, and payroll, etc.