I’ve started more businesses and explored than I’d care to admit in my 18-plus years of entrepreneurship (some didn’t work out!). In my experience, it’s a bit like driving through a heavy mist where you are only able to see a few feet in front of you – you don’t know what it is until it’s upon you. However, the longer you are an entrepreneur, the better you can navigate through.
Here are some of my thoughts and personal observations learned by meeting new entrepreneurs, and building and growing my own businesses. Do consider these ‘wish someone told me things before I started out myself‘, if you’re planning to start up your own business!
I had invested and started a laundry firm back in 2002 because an opportunity presented itself. Needless to say, I couldn’t sustain it.
Don’t start something you think everyone else is doing. Don’t be part of something you can never relate to. I eventually found success because I intended to solve a problem that many faced.
People love to throw around numbers. Yes, businesses fail. It’s because most people don’t commit, they don’t follow through to the end, or they are bad at managing money.
Don’t listen to that – it’s an excuse to make you feel comfortable about giving up. Trust me; there is magic in converting the non-believers to become your biggest fan.
You are your biggest seller. You can never outsource this. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, hire a consultant. Watch that person, and absorb from that person. There is no such thing as, this is not something you are not good at.
If you hear your voice long enough presenting, you will get better and better. Invest in attending clubs like Toastmasters. Pretty soon, you will turn on the beast-mode.
If it’s easy to pronounce and can help you tell a story, stick with it. Get a professional designer to create a great business card. Remember, your biggest salesman is your business card. It talks even when you are not around to tell a story.
If you don’t have a good story to differentiate brand, you will be lost. A great story just makes it easier because the connect and acceptance is higher.
In fact, you probably won’t know anything when you first start. Start anyway. When I first got into the advertising business, I was just a decent copywriter. I had no idea how to consolidate a campaign, or even design an invoice. Most of us figured it all out “on the job.” You will, too.
Partner with someone because it makes you stronger. The wrong partner will drive you crazy, make you hate your work and end up causing more problems than they solve.
I partnered with someone who lost my trust, but I continued too long that it affected work. Learn to choose a partner who’s different in skill set but with the same value system.
Accept it. Some are bad at managing people. That’s perfectly fine. You have your own skill set. Steve Jobs did one thing well – he knew what he wanted for his brand. Some basic skill sets we develop over a period of time. Hire an HR consultant or an assistant for you to ape as you grow.
The same is true when you want a strong person to back you with financial acumen. I learned this in my fourth year of operations, and it has made a lot of difference to my ambitions.
If anyone tells you this, tell them to mind their own business. If you’re not obsessed with it for long periods of time, then it’s just not worth pursuing. Entrepreneurs cross that line always.
I am overwhelmingly obsessed with branding and helping startups. You must find your obsession!
Someone else’s experiences really do serve as a map for the journey ahead. Knowing what to expect, helps you visualise a similar and more often, a better experience.
Personally, I love reading autobiographies. Their experiences sometimes also serve as validating your own decisions.
Never forget that. Develop a healthy balance. I started my family life pretty late. And as a new father, I can’t but help wonder, why did I not start early? 🙂
Connect your milestones with a reward. I have found that people who delay their rewards also tend to keep a higher expectation for themselves.
Money follows value. Create value for someone else and it automatically becomes valuable for you. Focus your energies on becoming ‘the-amazing-you’ so that your creation becomes incredible for people to be part of.
Yes, sometimes it is lonely and starting out is filled with insecurities, with your own well-wishers throwing more than a few cautions. But ultimately, like life, your business journey is going to be unique. I end with the thought that “stubbornness for your dream is what people end up calling endurance”. Wishing you a happy New Year and more power to entrepreneurial thinkers.