The first deadly start-up decision is bad mindset. If you want to be successful in business, you need to get your mind right from the start. There are a lot of great reasons to start a business, and it is no one’s place to judge why someone wants to own their own business. I own my business, so I understand the things that drive someone to take their livelihood into their own hands. That said, there are some terrible reasons to start a business, some of which can be fatal.
“I started my own business because I want to work less hours.” I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard this from someone considering making the plunge into entrepreneurship. Guess what – doesn’t happen. It. Does. Not. Happen. I know very few business owners that work less than they did at a “normal 9-to-5 job.” If they do, it is because they have grown the business to such a large point that they have acquired staff to run the business like they would. Which is the unicorn of entrepreneurship – having the people to run your business the way you would. Instead, most new business owners should be prepared to work, whenever, however, and for as long as necessary, to make the dream into a reality.
“I started my business to make more money than I did at my old job.” This notion can be fatal as any fledgling business owner can quickly tell you, because building a book of business takes time. It also takes work (see above). In many industries, you cannot make serious money from a business until you have more than one location or until you franchise. Plus, many people forget that there are a lot of costs associated with starting your own business, so you must be prepared to make less before you can make more. So, it is important to start your business with attainable financial goals. If you set unrealistic financial goals right off the bat, you will never feel like a success in your business, which just makes it harder to actually succeed.
Finally, my favorite, “I just want to be my own boss and call the shots.” I like shot-callers. I am a shot-caller; it is the very nature of the type of law that I practice. I love making decisions. But, there are people in this world who think that they want to make decisions, but they really don’t. Some people shy away from being decisive. It isn’t a bad thing, because shot-callers typically need more thoughtful people to keep us from running over everybody else. The problem is when someone thinks that they want to be a decision maker, but they really can’t actually do it. Shakespeare has it correct, “…to thine own self be true.” If you do not know the type of person that you are, you cannot succeed at owing your own business, especially if you do not like making decisions.
Starting out, you must think about why you want to start your own business and be able to articulate those reasons. The better you can articulate what you really want, the more concrete your direction will be. If fact, it will probably help you build an overall marketing plan, because you will discover the why and the who of your business in the process.