One thing is certain: as a potential business owner, you should not be scared. That must be the overriding factor that distinguishes a business owner from an employee. Risk is inherent to starting a business, and it doesn’t subside as the enterprise grows. It changes tact, but it is always lurking in the background.
So what does it take to be your own boss?
Financial ruin shouldn’t be at the forefront of your mind the day you take the plunge. The belief in your product or service and the rigorous market research you’ve conducted beforehand should carry you over the precipice of uncertainty.
Risk comes in many forms. These may include:
- The market’s acceptance of your product
- Whether investors will continue to believe in your product or service even if your business is off to a rocky start.
- Whether debtors pay on time.
- Interest rates – will they continue to rise?
- Socioeconomic issues – will the local community remain employed, so as to buy the product or service?
The key is to be honest about the potential risks involved with starting your enterprise. To a large extent, risk can be gauged. Being realistic is key in successfully surveying risks. Being conservative with regard to sales expectation, market size, expenses and the local economy contributes toward a realistic determination of risk.
People who are risk tolerant, even to a small extent, should harness that ability to be decisive.
As a prospective business owner, you need to be aware that you’ll have to sacrifice your weekends to give your venture a better chance of succeeding. This may be the case for months or even years after your business has been founded. There is not alternative to hard work when starting out on your own. It is the golden thread that will distinguish a surviving new business from those that go bust within a few months.
Stepping away from a salaried job into the world of being your own boss will come as a grave shock for many who thought the 9-to-5 routine will continue to be the norm. It won’t.
You’ll need to rise early and plan your next steps. You’ll deal with customers, suppliers and factory workers during normal business hours. And when everyone goes to bed, you’ll be busy with that hated admin work. The survival of your new business will be directly correlated with all the time and energy you pump into the venture.
Patience and perseverance
It would be extremely idealistic to think a new business will flourish from the word go, even if you put your heart and soul into it.
It takes time to build a presence in any market, to win over customers’ loyalty, to get a hang of the demands of business administration, to fine-tune marketing plans and to become more skilled in negotiating with suppliers.
Rather than being defeated during the initial stages of your business’ life, take the time and learn. Coach yourself in finance, marketing, online commerce, labour laws (of which there’s a seemingly never-ending list) and distribution.
And don’t give up. If your business doesn’t do well one month, investigate the reason for this.
Did the business keep the correct stock, which expenses exceeded the budget and why, is the product or service offering still relevant to customers, did a competitor open up shop close by? Work hard on finding the answers to these questions, and amend your operations accordingly.
Use your size to your advantage; a small business – as opposed to a large company that has a hierarchy of people who need convincing – can change course quickly and efficiently.