The difference between having a job in an industry and owning a company in the same industry is vast. Most people should not be small business owners – especially a business in a brick-and-mortor location. It is rough, risky, and your whole life outside of that business must be put on hold until your business is leveraged properly, Lest you lose it all. This post is not about whether your idea is a viable business model. It is about being prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to see your vision through.
How do I know this? I have partnered in 2 successful family businesses. Two different service businesses in the recreation and educational industries. I have countless friends who have family owned and operated businesses. Entrepreneurialism runs deep for me. I cannot shut it off. Will I own another business in the future. I am sure of it. But I know what it takes. And I won’t make time for that right now. Because? Who wants to tie up hundreds of thousands in capital investments before a dime rolls in? Not this gal. Who wants to work 12 hours a day? Not this gal. Who has a new all-encompassing business idea that is driving me batty? Definitely, not this gal. But enough about me.
What about you? What is that burning desire that keeps you up at night? What is it that you want to do so bad you might as well work it as well as dream about it?
Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Are you excited by the thought of following through?
Now – this is the most important question – Would you do that business for free? As in, no compensation as long as your basic requirements are met.
Take a moment. What was your first gut reaction? I know bills must be paid and etc. but you must know what incentive is driving you forward.
If your reason is the financial gain, forget it. It will not last. As soon as a dip in profits appear you will be looking somewhere else. Your passion will wane and everybody gets miserable. Never start a company based on where the money “looks” good. (Do not get me wrong here, established companies should diversify into lucrative side industry, but that is a different strategy for a different time.) There are better times than others in certain industries for new entries into the market. But even in the best of times you will need to hustle to make it and if your heart isn’t in front of your wallet it will not be a pretty ride.
At this point, you may think I am crazy, but hear me out. What sets owners apart from employees is their desire for helping others. I am not saying that if you just work a job and don’t own a fortune 500 you don’t care enough about people. But instead, successful companies are founded on principles of helping the community/world be a better place. Even if it just to fix a single leaky roof at a time. Or prepare one family’s taxes at a time. The goal is to work for them, to give to them, to help them get their needs met in a way that enriches their experience with your company. Nowhere in that kind of thinking does the statement “for the desired level of compensation” fit. Savvy owners know if there is a need and a reachable price point on their product/service, clients will show up. Zig Ziglar said it best ,”You will get all you want in life, if you help enough people get what they want.” That synergy between the clients needs and the business cannot be attained if the almighty dollar is your mascot.
Second big point – be prepared to deal with people’s needs. I can smell a dying business a mile away. I will teach you the not so big secret. If you contact a business and they start by telling you all the needs you must fill for them instead of their concern being on meeting your needs. Run.. Run fast.. it may not be the best experience for you as a customer. Now I am not saying if they are upfront about fees or they are directing you to the right people, that you should run, but if they tell you after 5 minutes of talking how annoying it is to deal with public they are obviously there for their wallet or ego. If in your information gathering interaction they remind you that they are not getting paid for your conversation, not cool. Good businesses fail everyday, the ones with poor attitudes never stand a chance. In business, be prepared to answer the same questions a million times, with the same enthusiasm and concern as the first time. Be ready to be as flexible as possible. All clients will seem like toddlers after a short time, it is whether you embrace the opportunity to educate or loath it that will make the difference.
You also need to look at where you are in your life. If your health is poor, it will likely only get worse. If you are not financially stable, whoa, are you nuts? Are your clients primarily your friends? See how many are around after the first round of accounts receivable statements go out. Can you handle stress – good and bad? Better get a thick skin and some sharp wit. You are gonna need it. Have an ego? If you aren’t prepared to be the grunt don’t even take a step forward. Respect is earned and you must re-earn it with every new client.
But if you have the passion, and are not in the place to take a risk, partner with someone who can. This may mean just working for them. If you enjoy what you do though, it will be rewarding. Or maybe a full-time business isn’t an option for you now but you could transition a paid hobby – into sideline – into a business. Grow slow and stay within your means of time and money. A tipping point will come where you will have the timing to step into the industry on a full-scale – if you are diligent.
Having a small business of your own is incredibly rewarding if you love what you do. I support everyone in their desire to find a way of contributing to our world in a way they find rewarding.
I can honestly say, if I could go back and talk to myself on whether it was a good idea to start in business, all I would say is “Work even harder. You will love every minute of it.”