People’s attitudes towards career have dramatically changed over the last 20 years. It used to be the case that working for a leading multinational company was the ultimate career goal. Now, with significant advances in technology, e-commerce and social media, there has been a dramatic shift. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is seemingly now possible for everyone. And with stories of entrepreneurs living the dream all over social media, it’s not surprising many are now want to start a business.
Starting up my own business was by far the best decision I ever made. It really has changed my life for the better. I will be honest – I went into it pretty blind. There are things I wish people had told me first before starting. Not because I would have discontinued my plans. But because I could have been better prepared. And enjoyed the journey that little bit more.
If you want to start a business, here are 12 things you will need to be prepared for. Some you might experience. Others you might not. Everyone is different. But as long as you are aware of them, you know how to prevent them:
1) You might not have more freedom
You might think starting your own business means freedom. Getting to do what you like, when you like. But in the beginning, this might not always the case. Yes, you might get more freedom in terms of your decisions. But not necessarily in terms of your time.
The first 1 or 2 years is about survival. Unless you have significant financial backing. Or another income stream. Chances are you will work more hours not less. You might have more flexibility to go to a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. But unless it’s urgent, work will always come first.
And if you are in a client facing role, be warned. Your clients will dictate when you work. This could include evenings and weekends. When they have time to see you.
ADVICE: As long as you are doing something you love, it won’t feel like hard work. At least, most of the time. So make sure you love what you do or think about doing something else. Otherwise, you will just end up resenting your business. Get clear on your priorities. Learn the skill of working smart, not hard. Automate things as much as possible. And ask for help when you need it.
2) The fear is real
Fear of not making any money. Fear of failure. Fear of being rejected. Fear of the unknown. If you think starting your own business will be less stressful than your previous jobs, think again.
This is why it is so important you do what you love and you believe you can do it. Because every day you will have to look fear in the face and say, “You’re worth it”.
ADVICE: To overcome your fears, you must focus on your “WHY?”. The purpose of the business. The people you want to help. The difference you want to make. Make sure your “WHY?” is so meaningful you will stop at nothing to achieve it.
From a financial perspective. Business coaches recommend you have a financial cushion of 6 – 12 months salary saved before you start your own business. Chances are you will start generating income within the first 6 – 12 months. But knowing you can survive without any revenue for 12 months will take much of the pressure off.
If you want your business to succeed, you will have to take your commitment to a whole new level. I’m not just talking about commitment to your business. I’m talking about commitment to you and your personal development.
Being good at what you do isn’t enough to make a business work.
I knew I had a natural talent for coaching. What I don’t have a natural talent for is entrepreneurship. I am not business minded and not a natural salesperson. Starting my own business has been a steep learning curve for me.
ADVICE: Identify which skills you need to develop to ensure the future of your business. For example, digital marketing, creating videos, leadership, communication, positive psychology, time management, stress management, networking, business development. Then either find a coach, sign up for workshops, online courses, read books or ask friends and family to teach you this stuff. Research has shown if you do this, your business will succeed in 24 months. If you don’t, be prepared for it to take longer.
When I first started, there were days when I didn’t speak to a single soul. I just sat at my laptop working out ways to survive. And then when my business took off, there were weeks when the only people I spoke to were my clients.
In terms of feeling isolated, also note. Unless your friends are fellow entrepreneurs, they won’t have experienced the pressures, the challenges and everything else you’re going through. You might find yourself thinking, “They just don’t get it.” And there is a chance they won’t take an interest in or actively support your business goals either. Don’t expect them to say, “Tell me everything about your business and how I can support you on your journey”. Not because they are bad people. But simply because they have their own lives to be getting on with. If you want their support – you will have to ask for it.
ADVICE: Develop your network and connect with like-minded people. People who have similar goals and are facing the same challenges. It’s important to remember – you don’t have to go it alone. Look for business partners who can support your business. Find other entrepreneurs who you can work with and bounce ideas off. Building this support system is something I wish I had done from the start.
5) Your relationships will suffer – if you let them
When you are working all the time, your personal relationships might suffer. You have less time to spend with them. And when you do see them you have nothing to talk about except work. Because that’s all you’ve been doing for the last 6 months.
It’s of no surprise that many entrepreneurs are single. Either because they choose to be so they can focus. Or they don’t want to be single but don’t have the time to find, let alone nurture a relationship.
I read recently that if your marriage is on the rocks, and you want to make it work, starting a business might have to wait.
ADVICE: If your relationships really mean something to you, you can’t ignore them. Your loved ones will only stick around if they feel loved. It’s up to you to schedule time to see them. Even a call is better than nothing.
6) You will fear taking time off
This year I took a two-week vacation to Bali. That was my first proper holiday in 2 years. Part of this was because I was committed to hitting certain targets within a specific time frame. But I will also admit part of this was because of fear. Taking time off could mean a loss of revenue. And coupled with any vacation costs, that’s a double hit on the bank balance. Not only that there is a fear that you will miss out on business opportunities during that time.
ADVICE: No matter how big the fear is, taking time off is essential. Not only for recharging the batteries but for inspiration. For more information on how time off can benefit you, read http://zetayarwood.com/travelling-personal-development/
7) Your health will suffer
Long hours, grabbing food on-the-go, lack of sleep and not taking time off will finally catch up with you. There’s only so much your body can take before you burn out. And then you might end up with walking pneumonia, at home unable to leave your bed for 5 days and taking an entire month off work to recover (ahem).
ADVICE: Work is important but your health is the priority. You must practice good-self care. Otherwise, your business and everything else in your life will suffer.
Depending on the type of business you want to start, your costs in terms of time, energy and money will always be more than what you had originally planned for. Most businesses fail in the first two years because of cash flow issues. They generate income but not quickly enough to offset the gigantic costs at the beginning.
ADVICE: Richard Branson recommends for the first two years, focus not on growth but on survival. Keep costs down. Look for business partners who can share the burden of resources. Ask friends and family to teach you about sales, marketing, finance etc. Bribe them with nice dinners or spa days in exchange for work or advice. Do as much as you can yourself until you can afford to outsource. Hire interns if you need an extra set of hands. Barter with other entrepreneurs and exchange goods and services rather than money. Check your personal expenses and see where you can save money.
9) You have to like engaging with people
This is something I have seen many of my clients struggle with. If you don’t like engaging with people, you might find setting up your own business challenging. Your success is heavily reliant on the relationships you build with your clients, customers, employees, business partners etc.
ADVICE: Work with a coach to help you identify what the issues are. If it’s fear, they will help you overcome it. If it’s because you’re a natural introvert, they will show you how to make that work for you and not against you. If it’s a fear of rejection, here are some practical tips on how to be instantly likeable: http://zetayarwood.com/ultra-likeable-popular-11-simple-steps/
10) You have to be comfortable with failure
You will face setbacks. It’s part of the game. But a setback doesn’t have to mean the end. It simply means a change of direction is required. Remember – there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
ADVICE: If fear of failure is holding you back, working with a coach or mentor can help.
11) You need to be patient
There is this overwhelming sense of “I have to do everything, right now!”. This can lead to a constant state of rushing. Meaning you don’t enjoy the journey of building your business. I would also add if you’re expecting an investor to drop $10m into your lap at the start – you’re in for a brutal awakening. And patience will be your greatest ally here.
ADVICE: The key thing here is focus. Look at what would be most beneficial to your business and focus on that. You will do all the other stuff. But just focus on one thing for now and see where that takes you. And remember, success will not come over night. But with persistence, passion and patience – you will get there.
12) You have to be self-motivated
You will have nobody to tell you you’re doing a good job. Or to encourage you on days when things have gone wrong. Or how you can improve. At this stage, you might even wish you had a boss!
ADVICE: Get familiar with the “Self high-five”. It will become your best friend.
Thinking about setting up your own business? To achieve more, you need to become more. To find out how coaching can help you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.zetayarwood.com.
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Zeta Yarwood is recognised as a leading Career Coach and NLP Life Coach in Dubai, helping individuals across the world to achieve success in all areas of their lives. With a degree in Psychology and over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – working for multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Zeta is an expert in unlocking human potential. Passionate about helping people discover their strengths, talents and motivation, Zeta lives to inspire others to dream big and create the life and career they really want.