Many of us have a desire to escape the rat race and start out own business. I've done this myself, and this post shares 5 things I wish I'd known before starting on my entrepreneurial journey.
It’s no secret that running a business is not for the faint-hearted… I would know! I’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 13 when I used to do kids’ magic shows. I then went on to be a lawyer in the music industry, which I quit doing over 20 years ago. Since then, I have built three multi-million-pound companies and won a bunch of entrepreneurial awards.
It may sound like it’s all gone really well. But, honestly, it hasn’t been. It’s been a rollercoaster with many ups and downs. I’ve made some huge mistakes, at times lost a lot of money and I’ve gone through some very painful learning experiences.
The truth is, no one prepares you to run a business. There is no course at school that provides with any education on how to run a business.
It’s kind of left for you to find your own path. But, if this is something you want to do, you’ve just got to go for it.
If you are thinking of starting your own business, I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you 5 things nobody ever told me about running a business:
1. It’s lonely at the top
You could have a whole team of people around you, but being at the top will always be lonely. That’s not because you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people, it’s simply because you run the business; you know the ins and outs of it more than anyone else.
Ultimately, the buck stops with you and nobody but a fellow business owner can really empathise with the pressure that brings.
So, make time to build relationships with like-minded business owners.
Chat with them and you will find comfort in sharing experiences and get a fresh perspective on issues you are dealing with.
2. You can never switch off
Holidays and weekends are something other people have.
Until you reach the stage where you can automate everything (which is likely to take at least 3 years), you will be thinking about your business every waking hour.
There will always be something that needs doing. As they say, when you solve problem #1, problem #2 gets a promotion.
Thankfully if you have started the right sort of business (what I term a Freedom Business) and structured it in the right way, after an initial period of hard work, you should be able to step away and let it run on autopilot.
3. Money changes people
Going into business with someone else is almost as big a step as getting married.
It can be great having a business partner – especially if you get along well and you complement each other’s skill set.
But you have to accept that you cede an element of control when you do and you will have different views on how best to run things.
It can work very well but I’ve certainly noticed how, whenever money is involved, people seem to change. And some people you thought you could trust, turn out to be not so trustworthy after all.
At various points over the last 23 years, I’ve had partners fake invoices, run off with large amounts of money, lie, cheat, take bribes and betray me by working behind my back with franchisees to set up a rival company. Some of these people, I regarded as good friends. And, I’m far from alone in experiencing that – it seems to be a pretty common occurrence.
The desire for money seems to change some people, so you need to be careful about who you go into business with.
You need proper legal advice to set up shareholders’ agreements that deal with what happens in the event of a dispute that can’t be resolved, and you need robust checks and balances in place to make sure people are acting honestly.
You need to be able to trust the people you work with, so ‘trust but verify’ if something doesn’t seem quite right.
4. You can’t please everyone
Once you accept this, you will feel a lot less pressure.
Some people might not like you or your mission, but there will be plenty who will. Focus your efforts on these people and don’t waste your energy on the haters.
If you have certain customers who spend a lot of time complaining and using up lots of staff time – fire them. That’s right. You are not obligated to transact with anyone you don’t wish to, so politely inform them you no longer want to do business with them.
Trust me, it’s very satisfying and your staff will appreciate your support knowing that you put their welfare before making money at any cost.
5. Failure is inevitable
When you run a business, there’s a lot riding on your shoulders.
You’re not always going to make the right decisions, sometimes you’ll make mistakes and it will result in failure.
The thing is, running a business is full of learning curves. So, if you do fail – don’t feel disheartened.
You only really fail if you give up.
All those ultra successful people you see in the news or in your life – ALL of them have failed numerous times before they achieved their success and continue to make mistakes.
For example, Richard Branson is undoubtedly very successful, but if you look, he has had a string of Virgin-branded ventures that didn’t work. I certainly haven’t seen Virgin Cola, Virgin vodka or a Virgin Cinema around for over a decade. What happened to them?
So take it on the chin, use it as a learning experience and try to remember there’s nothing wrong with failing. In fact, the ONLY people who never fail are those that never try to do anything.
So, if you’re planning to start a business and don’t know what to expect, I hope this has opened your eyes to what’s in store.
If you have a burning desire to run your own business, then it’s definitely worth it. I’ve never regretted quitting my career to be an entrepreneur. But, be under no illusions about how tough it can be.
I help entrepreneurs and go–getters turn their dreams into reality.
I can help you build a business that delivers the income, freedom and fulfilment you truly desire.