If you feel restless working for someone else and have come up with your own idea for starting a business, you should consider the challenges that you will face ahead of time.
Owning and running a business is incredibly rewarding—but it comes at a price. Stress, painful mistakes, and sacrifice all accompany the pride, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that comes with creating your own money making machine.
By knowing and preparing for these potential pain points, you will be better equipped to deal with complications when they arise. For an entrepreneur, challenges are almost guaranteed. Even so, no matter how prepared you are, you will need to use your own creativity and innovative skills to overcome some of the difficulties that you will encounter.
At the risk of overstating the obvious, your new businesses will need capital to operate. On the TV show “Shark Tank,” you’ll see business owners with great ideas pitching for more funding when they’re already pulling in noteworthy profit margins. Why!? In most cases, they’re giving up a portion of their company to land an investment to grow their business.
These already successful business owners have put everything they can into growing their idea: life savings, loans from family members, income from their day job, and so on. But, they’re still in need of more capital to turn their business into something from which they can see free cash flow.
Most likely you will not be taking a salary for yourself in the first year (or three) of your new venture. Wise business owners will funnel as much money as they can into their startup to see maximum growth over a short time period before pocketing cash from the business.
Even as you’re sacrificing things like vacations to grow your business, you could be surprised to find how many extra business-related expenses come up that you hadn’t budgeted for.
Unexpected expenses can include:
- Broken equipment
- Accounting mistakes
- Late fees
- Travel expenses
- Attendance fees for workshops and conferences
- Office items like toilet paper, take-out while you’re working late, and much more
- Liability insurance
- Employee taxes
- Self employment tax
Traditional loans via banks, grants, angel investors, or even crowdfunding support are all practical ways to seek out investors. However, you could be turned down for loans time and time again. Even though rejection can dampen your spirits, keep believing in you. Your idea likely still has potential, but either you’re seeking the wrong type of funding, or you need to rethink your business structure to gain the interests of potential investors.
One way to boost your attractiveness to a potential investor is to ensure that you have a strong business plan in place. If you are struggling to craft a clear business plan, seek out a professional writer or marketer with experience who can help you.
In addition, consider an adjustment, however slight, to your business plan. This could look like changing the amount of ownership you’re willing to give to your investors, or establishing a way to deliver a faster return on their investment by increasing production, upping your products price point, or investing in a better sales team. Your flexibility might cause a hesitant investor to excitedly jump on board.
Attracting the right customers
Whether you offer a service for clients or a unique product, you will need to cultivate the right users who can help determine the direction for your company. By narrowing down a specific market, you’re more likely to develop a great product this target audience must have, versus a good product that many people are interested in, but few are actually buying.
When you are just starting out, ask your target customers for their opinions. Listen to what they tell you, either through words or actions. They are your peers, your review group, or your test subjects, if you will. Your target customer will give you the best insight on what’s great and what’s not-so-great about your product—what you can improve, what you can get rid of, what they wish it could do, how much they’d be willing to pay for it, and more.
For example, if you offer a gadget in six colors, but just three colors make up 90 percent of your business, your efforts might be better spent in focusing on the colors that sell, and eliminating the other colors. This gives you room in your budget to improve different features or contribute to your marketing.
On the other hand, if your customers tell you that they want a specific service or product that you don’t offer, pay attention to their suggestions and consider the feasibility of their ideas.
Trying to do everything on your own
Successful entrepreneurs know that they cannot do it all. If you push yourself too hard, you will wear yourself out, and you might even run your business into the ground.
For starters, a small business owner usually has the following characteristics: sets the company vision, focuses on the future, plans for emergencies, considers the big picture, and establishes company goals.
However, every small business owner needs someone to help them walk out the practical aspects of his or her plan. In other words, the visionary sees the forest; assistants and other team members concentrate on the trees. They help the visionary with the details so that the plan actually comes to fruition.
The savvy entrepreneur knows when and what to delegate. They will know what their time is worth and where their focus will be most valuable. Set your sites on your strengths, and seek help from people who can carry parts of the load that you are struggling with.
Hiring the right employees
Creating a winning team takes a certain combination and chemistry of team members who can effectively work together. However, you might not have the finances to attract the types of quality personnel that you want.
This is why it’s important to find employees with potential. If you invest time and resources into educating your staff, you can mold and grow the exact team you’re looking for.
Even so, consider that talented people won’t always reject an offer because of the bottom line. Instead, they might appreciate the offer to start on the ground floor with your business and expand via job opportunities and company growth.
Approach them as you would an investor—what can this possibly over-qualified potential employee gain from joining your team? Stock options, increased pay over time, a flexible schedule, and use of work resources are all great incentives for snagging yourself a talented new employee.
When you’re building your team, pay attention to chemistry. Building a team of talented employees is as important as building a team of employees that work well together. Communication skills, turnover rates, team projects, and reliability for deadlines can suffer greatly when you hire people that don’t work well together.
In addition, your team should be comprised of a balance of personality types, such as:
- Introverts and extroverts
- Followers and leaders
- Logical and emotional
- Creative and structured
- Similar and different types of individuals that work together to make a strong team
Overall, just focus on hiring the right people—the people with potential. You might not know exactly what role they’ll play in your company, but you know they’ll be an asset.
Focus on getting the right people on the metaphorical bus, and when you figure out where they excel, you can have them change seats.
Struggling with effective time management
Every small business owner tries to navigate what might be unfamiliar territory as they look for ways to accelerate the business while saving money. In addition, they often try to balance their family life with their new company as well. When faced with a limited number of hours in the day, it’s no wonder they struggle with time management.
Several tools that can help you with the daunting task of time management:
- Automated email systems, such as a CRM system
- Online invoicing
- Social media
- Online scheduling for staff and customers alike
- Online payroll
Look for other ways to streamline your business to make it run as smoothly as possible. Outsourcing data entry is done easily with websites like Upwork. Marketing has been simplified and streamlined with programs like Podium, which automatically gathers and manages your online reviews, and you can take advantage of social media sites where you can market your business for free and monitor the success of your marketing.
Learning from the struggles of others
Numerous other entrepreneurs—who later became extremely successful—also faced extensive struggles.
Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination. Steven Spielberg had to fake his way to a job at the movie studio. Henry Ford lost it all five times before he started Ford Motor Company.
Read books about successful people who have overcome overwhelming odds and learn from their experiences.
Some inspiring reads to start with:
- “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
- “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
- “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins
- “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
These are all stories of struggle, motivation, and success that any entrepreneur can learn from. Additionally, think about finding personal mentors who have faced daunting odds and overcome them.
Developing a tough skin
As a business owner, you have likely proved your persistence and ability to tough out life’s challenging obstacles in difficult situations. Look for creative ways to work around issues. Sometimes, the problems themselves are the doorway to your greatest successes.
The bottom line is that starting your own business is nothing short of a challenge. Every hurdle you hit presents a learning opportunity.
Be positive, be passionate, and push through the pain points, and you too can reap the benefits of being a self-starter.