Starting a Business: Why You Might Need to Reinvent Yourself
Hey there, Freedom Seekers!
This is number 3 of our series of live videos and articles. This series centers around starting the right business for you so that you can launch it on a rock-solid foundation to get to profit faster and, as a result, live a life you love sooner.
The first stage of starting the right business is the research which, I realize, is stating the obvious. Yet, many forget that this stage includes both internal and external research. Internal research is about you, your strengths so that you can capitalize on them, your blind spots so that you know how and when to outsource them, and finally your vision of an ideal life so that you can start the business that can give you that life. External research is about the market, the sectors of industry you might choose, the niche, and your path to business ownership (a startup from an idea or buying a business.) I’ll be addressing both types of research, starting with internal today.
Even if you already have an idea for a business you want to start or buy, researching and making sure it’s the right fit for you will prevent heartaches and financial pain. Here is why. In my years of working and associating with hundreds of business owners, I have observed two main tragedies.
The first tragedy is when entrepreneurs underestimate what it takes to succeed in small business.
The second tragedy is when very capable people stay stuck in a job they hate for years and decades simply because they underestimate themselves. Often, at least researching their possibilities as business owners could have freed them from a soul-sucking job. We never know what we don’t know until we seek.
Today, we are looking at the first tragedy: underestimating small business ownership and why devoting time to internal research is, too often, underrated.
For instance, academic degrees and, or brilliant careers in corporate or government can help of course, but neither guarantees success in starting and operating a small business. I have met many who had little formal education and were very successful as business owners. Others who had brilliant careers in corporate, managed teams, and multi-million-dollar budgets, decided to transition to business ownership but misconceived what it takes to operate a small business successfully.
One executive had successfully climbed the corporate ladder but got to a point where he had enough of his life as an employee. He had a dream of owning a chain of restaurants and launched a two-location pizza joint almost simultaneously. After a few years of struggle, he realized that he actually hated his life as the owner of that business and sold it for cents on the dollar of his original investment.
In another instance, a college professor who taught marketing at a four-year university bought a cash-flow positive Marketing Agency, yet he closed it after two years and lost his entire investment.
It is not that they were not smart or dedicated to making their business work. They both just made a strategic error.
The executive, as any self-respecting MBA, focused on the potential scalability and profitability of his business. He didn’t also consider his job requirements as owner of a restaurant which included late-night and week-end involvement, at least until the company could grow enough to hire operation managers. Had he exercised due diligence, beyond the business’ economic viability, he would have learned that the life of a restaurateur is not for everyone. It certainly was not for him, as he found out at great costs.
This is a common omission which is why I coach my clients in researching and interviewing other entrepreneurs in the sectors of the industry they have selected. Our goal is to have a granular understanding of the good and bad aspects of the venture they are considering and their specific role in it.
The professor, on the other hand, made a different strategic error. Like many, he assumed that because he knew the ins and outs of marketing, he would have no problem running a marketing agency. This is another common and expensive error. There is a vast difference between mastering a technical skill (in this case marketing) and successfully leading and growing a small business.
Here are our two takeaways from today’s discussion regarding the traps of underestimating business ownership and the internal research needed to succeed. Before you start or buy any business:
- Research the sector of industry and make sure it fits you well. That means interviewing and even possibly shadowing those who have a business in your chosen industry. It also means understanding the day-to-day activities of the owners of that business. Do these activities capitalize on your strengths, your values, and your behavior and personality? Are you aware of your blind spots enough to know when and how to outsource them to a business partner, an employee, or a consultant? Furthermore, can the business you picked actually support hiring others to handle the tasks that are not your strengths? For example, if you start a business-to-business company that requires a fair amount of business development but you hate sales, can your new business support hiring a business development expert? If not, are you willing to learn these skills (and also pay to learn them or be coached) until you can afford to hire out that responsibility?
- Don’t assume that because you excel in your field of expertise that you will also excel as the owner of that related business. As experts, we often have blinders that prevent us from being objective leaders in a business that provides our expertise to customers. An award-winning chef doesn’t necessarily make a restaurant a successful business. That’s one of the reasons, the restaurant industry is known to have a high rate of failure. A talented hairstylist, athlete, yoga teacher, mechanic, etc. might struggle in operating a business related to their talent and expertise. For any expert to succeed as a business owner, it requires that they consciously decide to step outside their comfort zone and reinvent themselves by learning this new discipline that is the art and science of business ownership.
When starting or buying any small business, remember to evaluate yourself with the entrepreneurial career you are about to transition into and ask these two questions:
- Will I enjoy my “job” as the owner of that particular business, in the short term while the business is just starting and in the long term when my responsibilities have evolved with the business growth?
- I am ready to step back from my field of expertise and focus on learning new skills as a small business entrepreneur and owner?
In our next post, we’ll discuss the other tragedy experienced by 95% of people who state that they’d love to be their own boss. Yet, they stay in a job they hate because of self-limiting beliefs and because they underestimate their abilities to start a business where they could be successful.
If we haven’t met I’m Patricia Bottero St-Jean, I’m a start-a-business coach and the founder of OPEN FOR BUSINESS, which is a business research lab. I’m here to help you research, vet, plan, and launch the right business for you on a rock-solid foundation. Let me know in the comment or send me a direct message or email:
What is stopping you? What is stopping you from starting the right business for you so that you can live a life with more freedom?
Until next time…
Cheers to living a life you love with the right business for you!