Like myself many of us watch Dragons Den or The Apprentice and put ourselves in the shoes of the hapless or sometimes amazing people who are being scrutinized under studio lights wondering if they’ll make it to the next round or be told if they’ve managed to secure that investment of a lifetime .
Sometimes though we find that many of these would be entrepreneurs are pitching brand new ideas and dream of one day being their own boss. Today, the successful business man or woman is looked at with envy. From the outside looking in it would appear that they have the autonomy to do what they want, when they want and sometimes even where they want. They can write their own cheque, wake up late on a Monday morning and even take holidays without having to get approval from a ‘boss’. Once successful they drive nice cars, live in big houses and some even have the option of retiring before a grey hair hits they head.
BUT dear reader, all is not what it seems, and when they lights and cameras are shut down and the curtain falls there’s a reality check that I think every would be entrepreneurs needs to take. You see, when looked at objectively we all know the statistics which tell us that the vast majority of small businesses, backed by entrepreneurs fail within the first 1-3 years. The question is WHY and I believe that one of the contributing factors is that people are not sufficiently geared up for the challenges entrepreneurship can bring and seem to only be drawn like a bee to honey by the riches and fame it can promises.
So here’s a list of things to consider before you think about quitting your day job and taking the leap in the world of entrepreneurship.
- Don’t just do it for the money – Choose a business that you’ll love to death. If you don’t then when times get tough – and they will, as a necessary part of entrepreneurship, then money, as much as you believe it will, won’t be a big enough motivator for you to carry on.
- Think about your friends and family – They say money changes people, and it probably does but you as an individual are in control of that. More importantly success can change the people ‘around’ you and that is something you cannot control. Making a business work can often time put stresses and strains on relationships with friends and family. So make sure they’re with you 100% and in for the ride!
- Look after your temple – Successful and more importantly, happy entrepreneurs take a keen interest in their health. Stress and poor diet is a major contributor to heart attacks and starting your own business will make you feel like you have less time for your health. But it’s right at that moment you must find the time and the trick is to really make it part of your lifestyle and not another thing on your to do list.
- Networking – Whether you like it not, a lot of businesses get by on ‘who’ they know and not just ‘what’ they know. Deals are done, contracts are awarded and profit is made through relationships. It was the old way of doing business and for small business owners this has become a more and more necessary part of their bottom line. In a nutshell people do business with people they like and trust. Wherever you live there will be a networking group for small businesses and if there isn’t, guess what – start one!
- Cash flow is still KING – It might sound obvious, but one of the ‘the’ most important things you have to consider is how can you make money and turn a profit as soon as possible. Now the thing here is that to do this you may well have to tweak your business model slightly in the short term. Even if you’re funded, that’s no guarantee you will continue to be funded. So get to the point where you’re cash is flowing through the veins of your business as quickly as possible.
- Stay in perspective – Mental health is a serious and growing issue in many communities. The stress that entrepreneurs can sometimes face may challenge their state of mental well being and cause them to make poor decisions both in their business and personal life. Balance remains key but the trick is to become a worst case scenario planner. Plan for the best but prepare for the worst.
- Know thyself – Are you the innovator, the entrepreneur or the business person? Rarely do they roll up into one person but usually your strength lies in one area. The innovator is often the person who comes up with that ‘wow’ idea – the inventor. The entrepreneur is the one who can see where the opportunities and profits are – the architect. And the business person is the one who can keep it running – the captain of the ship. The important thing to identify quite early on is which one you are? And given you may have business partners, which one are they? People need to do what they’re best at not what they’re employed to do or have been necessarily been trained to do.
So, do you still have what it takes? I hope so!
We need entrepreneurs more than ever and it’s my belief that they exist to make the world a better place – one start-up at a time.
To your success,
Julian Hall – “The Ultrapreneur”