The prospect of being your own boss is boss. You’ve answered the call of that little voice in your head. The one that refused to go away. The voice urging you to turn your dreams into a reality.
Who can argue with the knowledge you are building something that is yours? The freedom that comes with making it your own way is hard to beat.
Of course, nobody said getting started would be easy. But it’s not nobody who’s doing it, it’s you! Side hustling ventures and startup businesses are joy incarnate. Yet, walking your own path does hold its own bagging. Long hours, financial uncertainty, and the reality that the buck stops with you can take its toll.
Rest assured that bumps in the road are all part of the journey. Even the most resilient and savvy of startups will hit them. Whether it’s cash challenges, product issues, or simply finding a workspace that makes sense for your company, always be prepared for periods of doubt as you wonder whether your business is going to make it.
It’s these experiences that will make you. Winners never lose, they learn.
So what to do when it feels like the wheels are coming off the wagon? First up, don’t panic. Instead, identify the problem and address it as coolly and calmly as possible. The good news is that you’re not alone. Here are some of the common areas where new companies get stuck and, crucially, how to get unstuck.
When success comes, money typically follows. But getting there often requires initial investment. Ask almost any early-stage company. Money woes is a common denominator. In fact, it is entirely normal. A young business that has no financial worries is a rare bird!
If you are bootstrapping your venture - using your own money to grow your business - you will encounter periods of time with very little cash and no established revenue stream.
So manage your finances closely. Whether you’re working with outside investment or your own hard-earned cash, keep on top of your financial position. How deep is your cash reserve and how long will it last you? What costs are you incurring today that you can cut?
Stay lean and be mindful of overspend, even if you have the available cash to do so.
Financial uncertainty is par for the course. Every dreamer, mover and shaker encountered it at some point. It’s all part of entrepreneurship. After all, you know what they say: do what you love, and the money will come.
Being a startup guy or gal is an alluring proposition. To get started you need an idea, passion and drive. And you’ll have these in gallons. If you really want to level things up, also do your homework.
“The thing I preach constantly is do your research; build your knowledge base,” advises serial entrepreneur Theo Paphitis. “Don't just go into business on a whim or a prayer, and don't think 'I'm an entrepreneur so I have to take risks'. Entrepreneurs don't take risks. They take calculated risks.”
So, we ask again, have you done your research? Have you reviewed the competitive landscape? Have you defined the market need for your product or service? Will you be subject to industry regulation? What is your legal liability if your product or service doesn’t work as intended?
It’s almost never too late to be asking these questions.
So you have a strong handle on the market, but how are you going to apply what you know? Do you stay local for now? Do you target consumers, businesses, or both? What is your pricing strategy? Are you charging enough to stay afloat?
Attempt things at a small scale. Test the waters. Don’t feel you’re under achieving if you’re not growing your company by leaps and bounds out of the gate. You may in fact be doing the wise thing.
Are you sufficiently obsessed with your customers and serving them to the best of your ability? You should be. Make customer service your favoured custom. Happy clients make for repeat business and referrals. Treat your clients well and don’t overlook their frustrations and concerns in your rush to build a business. Help them and they’ll help you. That way everyone’s a winner.
Have you learnt to ask for help? Take all the advice from trusted resources you can get. Be a sponge.
Lean on friends, family, and your professional network for favours. How can people support? Whether it’s leafleting, web dev, making an introduction, or simply getting the word out, accept all the help you can get. Just remember to repay the favour down the line!
If the tough gets going, just remember that your experience counts for something. A Harvard Business Review study found that the average age of a successful entrepreneur is 45. There’s hope for us all.
Embrace your strengths. You love your business. You’ll always be your best marketing tool. Know what you’re great at, good at and where you have gaps. Understanding your own weakness is a strength. It makes you a powerful manager and delegator of tasks.
Don’t get tripped up by less than favourable character traits. Confidence is a good thing but too much will interfere with the path ahead.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”, said Sir Winston Churchill. Wise words from someone who knew.
It’s often said you make your own luck. That may be true: rolling up your sleeves and learning new skills will get you a long way. That’s when luck is most likely to strike.
Wherever you are on your journey, keep at it. You have great ideas. Surround yourself with great people. Do all the right research. And infuse your service with passion. The tick tock of the working clock is your playground in which to explore business opportunities. You are the boss. You are the side hustle.
Once you’ve got the bug for making it your own way, it’s hard to shake it off.