Moving a business idea from concept to commercialisation can be daunting in some instances. Here are five things a budding business owner needs to bear in mind.
Understand the risks involved
The first thing that strikes you about the glamour of entrepreneurship is the overwhelming focus on the rewards. We are hardly told the backstory of the pains and risks that came before the rewards.
We are constantly fed tales of heroic people who started a business from their parent’s garage and built it into a multi-million dollar company. We are regaled with stories of employees who quit their jobs to take on entrepreneurial pursuits.
The truth is, if we really knew just how much risk entrepreneurs expose themselves to, we would admire their guts more than we envy their success. Entrepreneurs often take risks that do not make any sense at the time, and that is how they are able to reap the big rewards.
The rewards of entrepreneurship are only half the story. The pains, frustrations, risks, and challenges are actually the most important parts of the story. If you want to be on the cover of Forbes Magazine, you need to have the balls to take risks. The bigger the risks you can take, the bigger the rewards you can make.
Self-doubt will haunt you
Entrepreneurs often come across as visionaries; people who see and act on things that others do not. What we often do not realise is that visions are not certainties. And things can go wrong as we try to bring a vision into reality.
Self-doubt is one of the most common demons that haunt entrepreneurs. Whenever we take risks or take on challenges that do not have an assured outcome, it is human nature for doubt to creep in at every turn.
This is why most successful entrepreneurs are big believers and perennial optimists. It is this unconditional belief in their vision that propels them to conquer their doubts and achieve success, in spite of the odds.
Things will happen that will test your confidence and make you doubt your vision sometimes. Disappointments and frustration could push you to the brink of despair. But because they’re big believers, entrepreneurs usually recover from these setbacks.
It is a lonely journey until you make it
This is a fact: nobody cares about you until you make it.
Many people just do not realise how lonely entrepreneurship can be. Especially in the early days and years, you are in the driving seat of the business and the burden rests squarely on your shoulders.
Except you have a supportive business partner, co-founder, or mentor, the journey is usually a very lonely experience for many entrepreneurs. Worse still, in spite of everything you are going through you still have to be your own therapist. People are drawn to success. But until success comes, you are largely invisible.
Success usually comes with a heavy dose of distractions. Press interviews, invitations to speak at local and international conferences, mentorship and coaching requests, and the pressures of managing your rising public profile are just some of the distractions success will bring into your life.
It is not just about the money
While money is certainly a strong motivator for entrepreneurs, to make it through the dark and lonely days of building a business, you will need something more than just the “love of money” to keep you going. Some entrepreneurs do it for passion, fun, and excitement. Others do it to contribute something valuable to the world and to make an impact.
In the end, money is just one of the rewards for the risks entrepreneurs take, but it’s not the ultimate reward. It’s just a way to keep score. Recognition, impact, and self-actualization are actually far stronger motivators than money.
You will be broke sometimes
Many people become entrepreneurs because they want to make money. The reality is, you may have to ‘lose’ money first before you make any money. Anybody who’s bootstrapped a business before would know what I’m talking about.
When you are really committed to building a business, it is natural to give it everything. To pay salaries, keep the lights on and meet all the other obligations of your business, the entrepreneur often has very little left to live on. But as long as their vision is alive, most entrepreneurs know that being broke is only a temporary condition.
Entrepreneurs are like farmers; they always look forward to the harvest. But until harvest time comes, they will do everything they can to keep their crops alive, even if it means staying hungry and broke. By the time the harvest comes, all the pain, suffering and sacrifice will be long forgotten.