You might have been dreaming about starting your own company. Since I now have some experience with this, and worked with others who have launched out in this direction, I thought it might be good to let you know what I’ve learned.
The logistics of starting a company are fairly straightforward, and there’s lots of help you can get. Do your homework, hook up with seasoned advisors, and you’re set.
What’s more interesting is how you need to internally shift your attitude and thinking. I talked about this in a previous post, but being a business owner is even more of a shift than just acting like a contractor.
When you own a business, you personally are responsible for the important decisions and actions. Not only the stuff you like to do, but everything you’d rather avoid. If you’re smart you’ll take advantage of leveraging others’ strengths, to the degree that your finances allow.
I’m in the business of coaching small business owners. But I’m not yet comfortable with networking and making sales calls, so I’m getting help for that. I have an accountability partner who helps keep me on task every week, and I have other services that I call upon for making first contact with business owners.
It’s not just about WHAT a company does – whether that’s building widgets, serving fast food, or delivering great coaching. That’s usually quite easy compared to the other things that have to get done: filing taxes, marketing, complying with regulations, managing payroll, even cleaning the floors.
And when you ARE the business, you have to figure out how it gets done. Consistently, with a minimum of wasted time and money.
I also find that many people start businesses with a great idea, but don’t really grasp what keeps customers from buying. Here’s the plain truth: If you don’t have enough customers to pay for everything, including your own time, then you don’t have a business. You have a hobby.
Connecting with customers, either before or after the sale, becomes the primary purpose of your business. If you’re not addressing a need that they’re willing to pay significant money for, then the business just won’t survive.
That’s why it’s important to scrutinize your customers’ needs, and build a powerful message which resonates with them. This can be an incredibly tough switch for someone to make who has been an employee their entire career.
Do you think you have what it takes to work through these challenges? Fantastic – go for it! But you’re going to have to be on your toes, every day, even when you don’t feel like it.
It’s one of the best learning opportunities you’ll ever have. Whether your business idea works out or not.
by Carl Dierschow