In spending so much time educating entrepreneurs on how to grow and transition from their business, I tend to forget how we all started. I recently connected with a college colleague, where I learned that she is contemplating leaving the corporate world to start a venture on her own. In our conversation, she raised a question that brought back emotions I had long forgotten. The question she asked is “Why is starting a business so scary?”
Flooded with past feelings that have long subsided, I realized that while many books, talk radio shows, podcasts, and experts discuss growth and how to stay on top, they don’t seem to dive deep into the fears and steps that go with actually getting a business off the ground. Thinking about this question and my own beginnings, I started to write this article as a road map for all looking to join this scary but exciting world of being a business owner.
The Entrepreneurial Journey:
We start with a dream, a goal, or a passion for whatever service or product we plan to sell or create. Anticipation builds as we become so anxious with excitement that ideas start to flow through our minds like the Nile River. We begin to act like little kids on Christmas morning with astonishment in our eyes as we are about to see something new. With all of this wonderment we start our journey.
At this step, pay attention to this simple warning: Don’t let this excitement steer you off the path of planning your business properly. After you have an idea, you should start to build the structure of the business just as you would a house. Create a very detailed strategic marketing plan to give you a sense of direction. Too many businesses skip this step because they either don’t know about it or don’t think they need one. These are usually the companies that fail in the first three years as they lose focus of their vision and follow the wrong paths.
Now that we have a plan, the next step is to start forming the business. In this stage we must create a name, get the business registered with the state of domicile (accomplished through a business lawyer, this process can take 6 weeks or longer for approval), find a building/get township permits (if necessary), and develop our methods of operation. In this stage fear begins to build inside. All of those childish Christmas morning feelings are flushed from your system and transform into a panic sensation. This change of emotion is why many great business ideas don’t get off the ground. People start to question their choices as they see the startup costs and how much work is needed to begin. For this reason I recommend not quitting your current job until the business is fully operational. When it costs you money to be at your day job instead of at your business, that is the time when you go work at your business full time. This will help you pay the startup bills and ensure your businesses success for the next tough growth years to come.
Now that we have our business started, the next stage is to start growing and making a profit. The reason we had created our marketing plan in the beginning is to give ourselves direction of how to accomplish this step. Starting your business with a profit is possible, contrary to statistical reports that estimate how businesses won’t get out of the red until year 3. Starting with a profit depends on how well you planned the business in the beginning and if there was a clear and precise method of gaining recognition and clientele.
Starting a business is like having a baby. It can be the most frightening, but exciting time in anyone’s life. You will sleep less, work harder, and do anything you have to, to watch it succeed. Just like a child, if you nurture and care for your business, it will grow into something great, and in the end, you will have all the satisfaction and pride of knowing it was your sacrifice that made it happen.
As Babe Ruth once said: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” This powerful quote about the game of baseball speaks so much in all walks of business. While starting a business seems like a lot, we can’t let our own fearful emotions get in the way of our biggest ambitions.
Jon Gyles can be reached at email@example.com