In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to just start a business. The market can often feel saturated with numerous competitors. As an entrepreneur, you may find that there are lessons you will learn the hard way. It’s best not to fret though. Entrepreneurship is a complex journey full of ups and downs and these lessons can actually benefit you in the long run.
To prepare yourself for some common issues, read the tips we share below that some businesses have had to learn the hard way.
The Value of Your Employees
When you begin a company, it may be easy to run on your own or with a partner. But, as time goes on, you’ll need to hire people to help you with the smaller and more tedious tasks or run parts of the company that you can’t take care of due to higher prioritised tasks.
What you need to remember is that your employees are what make your business go around.
Regardless of what kind of business you’re running, your employees will usually be the ones who directly interact with customers and investors. This ultimately makes them the real face of your company. If you don’t hire employees who you would be happy to be served by and work with, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
This being said, you need to get a hold of one concept: don’t be afraid to fire people.
In some cases, there are employees who just don’t fit. They might be good at their job, or a nice person, but they just don’t seem to meet the standard your company is aiming for.
While it may be hard sometimes, you need to recognise when it’s been too much and fire them before it becomes a problem and takes a toll on your business. While it’s not the most pleasant, you’re the boss – you’re going to need to make these difficult decisions for the sake of your company.
Don’t Be Afraid of Failing
One of the biggest mistakes someone makes when they’re beginning a startup is the fear of failure. No one wants to fail; it’s embarrassing, expensive, and will set your confidence and self-esteem back.
But what many people don’t realise is that there are valuable lessons that can be learned from failure. If you never fail, you’ll never know what needs fixing… and the odds of your business being perfect is very low. If you never fail, you’re never really trying new things.
Refusing to go outside of your comfort zone and try new things is guaranteed to keep you in the same place you were in when you started. It can be hard, but venturing out with courage will yield huge benefits further on down the road.
Even Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has something to say about failing: “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”
One of the biggest things that entrepreneurs do is hire people that they think will fit their business culture. While this may work with some positions such as retail workers or frontline customer service representatives, it won’t work when it comes to the high-value positions like management, accounting, and human resources.
In these important positions, ensure that you’re hiring people with lots of experience. These are the people who can ensure your business is in the best financial position possible.
Choosing someone to fill these positions based on their attitude and how they fit your business culture will cost you drastically. Ensure that you are doing extensive interviews with people who are actually qualified and have the treasured experience you need.
Have a Partner
One of the hardest things you will ever do while launching a startup is doing it by yourself. While it may seem easier because you can make your own decisions without consulting another, you will quickly become bogged down with the hefty workload of an entrepreneur.
The easiest way to avoid this and the stress that comes with it is to find a partner and work with them. You can then split the workload and work with each other to get two different perspectives on problems and new business ideas.
What’s important is to be open to their ideas; a partner who is only focused on their own point of view and not open to criticism is setting themselves up for disaster.
As LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman, once said: “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
Have a Strong Business Plan
It’s one thing to have an idea and make some money off it, but it’s another to take an idea and make a business out of it.
While this may seem like a blissful moment and you’ll find yourself caught up in the post-business “high”, you need to take time to set aside a basic set of foundations to build on.
When you get caught up in that high, you’re going to miss out on building an actual customer base which will only lead to negative side effects long-term.
To avoid this, set out a solid business plan.
Ask yourself: What is my ideal customer avatar? Where will I get my product (if you’re selling a physical item)? Will I pay above minimum wage? Is there any other organisation I want to support? What kind of customer experience do I want to go for?
Answering these questions will tell you what you stand for in your business. From here, you will be able to build a customer base surrounding your company’s values and create an image for yourself.
Find a Way to Have Fun
This final point is one that is often overlooked. When you finally get the ball rolling, you are going to start feeling overwhelmed. As time goes on and you gain new customers/clients/employees, things will seem to get busier and busier.
While this stress can put a large weight on your shoulders, it’s important to remember that you’re human and if you don’t take care of yourself, you will pay the price. On top of that, having fun and creating a positive workspace will help keep your employees happy. A positive workspace has been directly linked to improved business and more sales, so make sure to keep that in mind.
All in all, startups are hard. There are many things you will learn the hard way with, regardless of how much education you do and how many books/articles you read. It’s important to remember that this is just the way the business world works.
When you fail and feel like you’re ready to give up, keep going. Remind yourself that even the world’s richest people have failed numerous times before.
As a parting message, here’s something that Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once said: “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” Keep this in mind as you continue on your startup journey.