Most people start businesses with the intent of being their own bosses by providing solutions through products and services that solve an identified need in the market.
Starting a new business is great. However, having an understanding of what to expect and hurdles you might experience is even better. Starting a business isn’t all beds of roses and definitely not as easy as some people portray. Usually, there are hurdles to jump and challenges that keep coming up. Of course, many managed to overcome them and keep their business afloat, though it would have been much easier if they had known about some of these challenges beforehand.
Entrepreneurship is a different ballgame that requires a different mindset. Going from employee to entrepreneur is a process that requires you to shed your older beliefs and habits and bridge new ones into your identity. You need to start thinking like a business owner and make decisions from data-driven validation also called business intelligence in recent times not just “gut feeling”.
You need an entirely different mindset if your new small business is going to succeed. Part of it is suddenly being the one in charge and having a whole different set of responsibilities.
A large part of it is about no longer having the safety net you once had. If you're sick, you can't just call in. Whatever you were going to do still needs to be done, regardless of how you feel. This mental shift is essential — this, a lot of entrepreneurs come to realize later in their journey.
Here’s a list of ‘5 things I wish I was told before starting’ that you can learn from as you start yours:
- Entrepreneurship is not Glamorous.
The media has a way of packaging the entrepreneurial life as an easy dream that’s within your reach. The reality of entrepreneurship is way off that mark. When you’re on the outside, the grass looks green and lush, but when you’re on the inside, it’s a different story.
It will be hard to tame your mind because it will be consumed with figuring out how to grow your business so you can pay your staff next month. Your time will most certainly be spent alone, behind a desk, analyzing data, prospecting, reading, researching, figuring things out and desperately trying not to go broke. Add to that an emotional rollercoaster of self-doubt, uncertainty and a non-existent social life. This is the reality of an entrepreneur. It’s not so glamorous, is it? Yeah
- Overnight success is a Myth.
We are wired to expect progress to be linear and success to come quickly, but in reality, it’ll take you years of trials and failures before you can see any sustained growth in your venture.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, calls it the Plateau of Latent Potential. It’s this idea that “habits often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold and unlock a new level of performance.” It’s the same in entrepreneurship. You need to keep going until you cross that plateau — and you certainly won’t cross it overnight.
There’s no such thing as “passive” either — it’s going to take years of consistent, committed hard work to become “successful”.
- Build the habit of monitoring your finances.
You need to be frugal and cut unnecessary spending. You must build the habit of staying on top of every dollar spent and every dollar earned. If you're not able to adjust spending to avoid running out of cash, you’ll find yourself destined to fail. You can leverage on business intelligence platforms to track your income and expenses.
Cash is the oxygen of business. If you cut the cash flow, the business dies. Learn to live on a shoestring budget until meaningful revenues start to flow in.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
A writer at the start of his career, cannot compare himself to a Bestselling author. Each one is playing on a different level of the game. The same applies to you. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone’s chapter 20.
I compared myself to the present-day versions of the successful entrepreneurs and thought “I’m not working hard enough, I’m not moving fast enough, I’m not being good enough” which placed heaps of needless pressure on me.
Don’t compare — stay in your lane, do your work, monitor your progress and try your best to study and learn from the greats in your field.
- Growth happens through the process.
I would confidently say that building a business was the ultimate personal development journey. Perhaps the biggest lesson it taught me was this: success is not somewhere we get to when our goals are achieved. There is no destination to “arrive” at. There is no “end goal”.
Success is in how much you grow in the process of working towards your goals, and that expansion and growth happen through the consistent work you put in the process. The result is simply the outcome.
Your only job should be to enjoy the journey and grow through it — stop obsessing over the results. Stop thinking about starting… Just do it.
There is never a perfect time to launch a business. There is only an abundance of ideas and in their execution lies their true potential.
Stop thinking or talking about starting — just do it. Take the first step to building your business, even if it’s only part-time while you still have a paying job. Seriously. Because in five years you will either look back and say, “I wish I did” or “I’m glad I did.
In conclusion, there’s no one-way approach to business. What worked for someone may not work for another. However, some common rookie mistakes that can be avoided, and these tips above can help your business run smoothly and increase your chances of success. While there will definitely be mistakes made at your startup, having the knowledge early on will help you manage them and your business, better.