Now that your have your basic business idea plus the audience you’ll be targeting, you will be starting to write your to-do list and plan your milestones, small goals to work towards in pursuit of the main event: a profitable business.
This is the point where a lot of would-be entrepreneurs fall down. They see their jobs list growing and they begin to realize just how much they’ve taken on and how much they will need to learn, do, spend and change about their lives, to really make their business idea work.
The ‘this is too hard, I can’t face it,’ thought process kills more small business ideas than any recession.
Negative self-talk and lack of resilience (buckling under the weight of the task you’ve taken on) are two areas of weakness that many would-be business owners face, but there is no need to let them derail your dream. Instead, now is the perfect time to get a fresh piece of paper out, write ‘List’ at the top and start a new one. Problems to Be Resolved, you might like to call it.
If you can anticipate problems before they happen, you have time to think about them and plan on ways to mitigate their effects. Rather than encountering a hurdle and collapsing in a heap, your new attitude needs to be, “Hmm. A challenge. I anticipated something like this. Now what can I do to solve it?” Even better, practise saying to yourself, “Awesome! A new learning opportunity. My skills and abilities just keep growing and growing!”
If this sounds like psycho-babble to you, think again. Positive self-talk and re-wording your thoughts into positive statements has significant effects on your actual thought processes. Effectively, it is possible to think and talk yourself into a more positive and productive person. What we hear and say most becomes what we believe – so why not hear and say things that will help rather than hinder?
Aside from attitude adjustments, there are plenty of potential problems that you can plan for now which will help you down the track. Here are some places to start:
1. Skills I may need to learn or buy
Depending on your business, you may need some or all of the following skills plus many more you might think of:
- public speaking (this means anytime you speak about anything to people who listen to you – it does not simply mean standing on a stage, but could mean networking at parties, chatting to small groups at private homes, speaking one-on-one to a person on the phone or face to face in a meeting),
- website design and editing,
- copy writing (this means writing anything that your clients or partners will read, from blogs to brochures, product descriptions to sales pitches and everything in between),
- marketing theories,
- computer and technology skills,
- design (logos, banners, presentations and more).
Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can do everything yourself. There are people whose sole business is specializing in these areas. Identify your priorities (more on this in an upcoming article) and outsource everything else.
2. Money and Time – how much I’ll need and where I’ll get it.
Starting a business is not as simple as setting up a website and watching the orders roll in. No matter how simple your concept, you will find that it eats up your time because it is your passion. You must plan for how much time you can spare and what this means for your milestones. If you can realistically only work on your business for two hours a day or two days a week (and you must be realistic. You also need to sleep, do housework, care for kids and earn a living) then you cannot expect your business to grow as fast as someone who can spend 8 hours a day, 7 days a week on it.
Speaking from experience, it is extremely difficult to manage a full-time job, a full-time child and building a new business, all at once. If possible, try to reduce the hours you spend working for other people to the bare minimum, enough to pay your way and no more, so that you have the time and more importantly the headspace and energy for concentrating on your business.
You must also think about money. It is a delicate balancing act, deciding what to save money on by doing yourself, and what to save time on by paying for someone else’s time. If you can identify every possible item that will require money – from website design to ordering stock to buying equipment to paying for advertising if you decide to do that – then you can start to get a picture of the budget you will need. If the numbers don’t add up, that’s when you have to decide which of those items you will spend time on, to learn to do yourself, or accept a low-quality option in the short term, or sacrifice entirely.
3. Negativity from others
Do not discount this important barrier to success. Negativity and lack of support from friends and family can be enervating and disheartening. If you’re facing that, you need to acknowledge it and take steps to find people and communities who will support you, such as this great website.
However, you may also be hit by negativity from the wider community. Strangers who will insult you personally because they dislike your product, potential partners who will belittle your efforts or simply ignore you. Always remember that these actions are not about you. You must stay above the mud and let it fall away: if nothing else, a troll on your website is at least contributing to your hit rate and pushing you further up in the search rankings!
With a little forward planning, when an obstacle appears in your path, you will have the equipment ready to move it aside, or detour around it, and carry on forward to your future success.
This is the fourth article in the “Start Up Business Basics” series by Emily M Morgan. You can read the previous articles: Make the Decision, Identifying Your Value and Choose Your Niche. Look out for the 5th installment next month “Think Strategically”.