If you’re here, it’s probably because you’re sick of being a slave sheep. Sick of answering to ‘The Big Boss Man.’ Sick of working to line someone else’s pockets. Maybe you’ve got a friend, or a colleague, or your brother’s friend’s colleague, who told you how liberating and rewarding your own business venture can be. Now you’re intrigued, too.
But handing in your notice and striking out alone is scary. What if you’re not good enough? What if you don’t have what it takes?
That’s a completely natural feeling considering that last year nearly 600,000 new businesses registered in the UK. And if you want to start your own business, you need to know that the competition is fierce. While exact figures vary, Senator Rand Paul is known for stating that 90% of new businesses fail–if we put those figures in context to the UK (for last year’s newly registered businesses) that would be almost 540,000 failures.
The good news is that you could be one of the 60,000 who are successful. You could even be the next Facebook or the next Google. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t give up because he was scared of failure, and neither should you.
There are certain traits you’ll need to see your business-dreams to the finish line. All successful business owners will not be in short supply of any of these characteristics:
As you’d guess with figures like that, starting your own business requires you to be extremely resilient. You need to be the sort of person who views failure as ‘deferred success’; someone who takes pleasure in throwing themselves over hurdles all day, every day.
While you might feel lighter when you’ve kicked ‘The Big Boss Man’ off your back, it will, however, mean that there’s no one riding you towards success. You won’t get fired if you hit snooze, come into work hungover or spend all day playing Candy Crush Saga, but it will significantly impact your ability to build a successful business. In a nutshell, you must be DRIVEN to succeed.
The unstructured world of a new business can be a shock to the system, especially if you’re coming from the highly structured corporate environment. Starting a new business requires relentless focus, or you simply won’t be able to get everything done.
Starting a new business means wearing many hats. Expect to turn your hand to marketing, sales, product development, customer service, operations, back-office, HR, finance or business development. You’ll need to be able to switch seamlessly between them and give them your all if you want to have any chance of succeeding. And as your business grows, you’ll be able to bring in the necessary talent for the various roles.
Successfully building a business means you’ll need to be aware of the hard work involved and the long hours each day; and you aren’t daunted by that. You need to want it more than you’ve ever wanted anything because you’ll have to make sacrifices along the way. Friends, family, social life–everything takes a back seat in the early days of starting a business.
You need to have faith in yourself because few others will, at least to start with. Working independently means making critical business decisions yourself and backing yourself to do the right thing. If you suffer with crippling self-doubt, starting a business likely isn’t for you.
Passion fuels determination when things get difficult. And they will. You need to absolutely believe in what you’re doing, because in the early days you’ll be your only brand advocate. You need to be passionate enough to inspire passion in others.
New business means networking. You need to be constantly looking for new connection opportunities and know how to build and nurture those relationships. You put yourself out there in your industry, meeting the right people and becoming known as a ‘right person’ yourself.
If you don’t know how to sell, you’ll never get your business off the ground. You don’t have to go all Glengarry Glen Ross on me, but you do need to be able to express, clearly and eloquently, what problem your product or service solves. If a bit of self-promotion has you inwardly cringing, starting a small business is probably not the best path.
You’ve got more than your paycheque to worry about now. Think P&L reports, budgets, forecasts, income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, invoicing, expenses and cash flow management. Inaccurate financial forecasting is one of the major reasons new businesses fail–and you will too if you don’t have a firm grasp of the finances.
A successful business is dependent on its leader. You are the blueprint for your business as it grows, so the example you set needs to be a good one. As you scale, you’ll likely hire more staff and they’ll be looking to you for strength, determination and clarity of vision. Without a strong leader at the helm you’ll likely end up with dissent in the ranks, which can be the death knell for any new business.
If you’ve got the small business fire in your belly, you’re unlikely to be happy doing anything else, for anyone else, and that breeds resolve like nothing else. Sales, marketing, finances and the like can be learned. A little humility and a passion for self-improvement can go a long way. But … nothing can teach you innate entrepreneurialism.
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