We work with a lot of different types of companies, which have different markets and products, but they all seem to make similar mistakes that can be fatal to the business. I call these types of repeated mistakes the Five Deadly Business Decisions. The first of which is that people start a business for the wrong reasons.
There are a lot of great reasons to start a business, and frankly, it is no one’s place to judge why someone wants to own their own business. Setting the course of your destiny in business is a dream for many people. 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 – sometimes fatal – reasons to start a business because they create an unrealistic mindset for the owner.
“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 nine-to-five job.” If they do, it is because they have built the business up to such a large point that they have acquired staff to run the business like they would. And, that my friends is a whole different set of challenges. So, remember, when you start a business, you should be prepared to work, whenever, however, and for as long as necessary to make your dream a reality.
“I started my business to make more money than I did at my old job.” This notion can be fatal to any fledgling business owner because building a book of business takes time. It also takes work (see above re long hours). And, 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 for a time, before you can make more. Therefore, it is important to start your business with attainable financial goals. If not, when 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. I love making decisions with the exception about where we are going to eat or cook for dinner. Not my biggest decision target. But I digress. There are people in this world who think that they want to make decisions, but they really don’t. Some people simply aren’t decisive. It isn’t a bad thing, because shot-callers need more thoughtful people to keep us from running everybody else over. The problem is when someone thinks that they want to be the decision maker, but they actually can’t do it. Shakespeare has it correct, “…to thine own self be true.” If you do not know the type of person you are, you cannot succeed at owning your own business, especially if you do not like making decisions.
Starting out, you really need to think about why you want to start your own business and be able to articulate those reasons. The better you can communicate 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.
This is the first test that you must pass on the obstacle course to success.