It has been your dream to start your own business. But you just can’t seem to make that plunge, because you are afraid that the market just might not like what you bring to the table.
Well, my wife and I have been in your shoes. We spent a few sleepless nights before we opened our first restaurant wondering if our business was going to be accepted in our adopted town.
My wife then opened a retail/wholesale store selling t-shirts and sweatshirts and she experienced a few anxiety attacks before opening her doors 1 month later.
In 1991, we moved from Western Canada that was just starting to recover from a recession to Ontario, which was just falling into a recession of its own. My contract with a management company finished and I was gainfully unemployed. To boot, my wife had just given birth to our third child. We asked ourselves: “What are you thinking? Start a business? Really?” The answer was always the same – YES!
I reflect on this period in our lives now as a period of growth. We looked deeply within ourselves and realized that our tenuous situation was actually a real opportunity. It sparked us into creating something that we had been dreaming about for the past 3 years – to open our own businesses.
When we started working on our businesses we felt so comfortable and confident that we were going to be successful. But the more involved we got into it the process, the less confident we became. It was at this point we realized how much we didn’t know. It was a huge learning curve for us.
“If we had known then what we know now “as the saying goes, we would have done the following:
- We would have found a coach/mentor
- We would have learned more about Accounting and Bookkeeping
- We would have learned more about Marketing
- We would have learned more about Human Resources
Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said: “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”
Opportunities are boundless today and there are countless resources for you to find answers to any questions you might have because our world has become so connected.
For example, if you do not want to read books and don’t have the time, you can buy audiobooks or listen to free podcasts.
True entrepreneurs like Aaron Walker, Spencer Thompson, Dan Miller, David Mead, and Kyle Wilson are just a handful of people sharing their stories on how they got into business and the obstacles they had to overcome when building their businesses. You have the luxury of listening to their stories and learning from their experiences all in the comforts of your home through a podcasts such as The Daily Grind.
There are a few strategies to help you through your fears:
- Cultivate a clear vision about your business and where you want it to be in 10 years and then realize that success is not measured by where you are in the first year; instead success takes time.
- Incorporate Simon Sinek’s philosophies in your vision to not only make a profit but to define your purpose, your cause and your belief as to why you are opening your business. Success can be measured in so many different ways.
- Develop and refine your concept. Find your niche in the business or service that you are offering. Define what makes you different from your competitors and how you can help your target market. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel; but, you have to be different.
- Describe your target market. Create a profile of your ideal customer.
- Practice articulating your message. Look in the mirror and tell your reflection in 2-3 sentences what your business is all about and how it can help your ideal customer and why they should buy from you.
- Test the market by asking your target market what they like in the service and/or business that you will be starting. It will save you so much time and money if you do this. It is an exercise and a lot of people won’t do this because they are fearful of rejection.
- Find a mentor that is doing or has successfully done what you plan on doing. Get rid of your ego, because you must realize at this point that you don’t know everything. You need input from someone with an unbiased opinion.
- Build your Business Plan. Find out how much money your business will be generating, what your costs and expenses are and what income you are projecting to earn. Do it for one year and then do it over 5 years. Know what your break-even point is. Know exactly what the costs are to open your business and be real.
- Surround yourself with people who are good in their business. Try to find people who are unbiased and have similar core values as you. This is how you can start networking.
- Prepare yourself for some difficult times.
- Lastly, and the big one here is: Work on your inner game. Exercise, eat right, meditate and keep learning.
If you think you are going to fail; then honour what you are thinking and take a step back. Breathe and re-evaluate everything that I mentioned above. Your business idea can wait.
If you are still fearful; but really passionate about what you want to do – then go for it. A great piece of advice that one of our guests shared to our listeners on The Daily Grind Podcast was – get the word “failure” out of your vocabulary – it doesn’t belong. Understand that most people do not talk about your successes or failures because they are too busy living their own lives.
You do not have a chance at being successful if you don’t get into the game. If it doesn’t work then pivot but keep going.
Starting a business is a process and success does not come overnight. If you enjoy the process then you will be great and your life will get better.