No matter how many cost-benefit analyses you run, starting a small business will always come with the anxiety and stress of uncertainty. Yes, we can predict market trends and conduct the appropriate research, but it’s a matter of supply and demand at the close of the bell.
The question of job vs self-employment in itself is extremely difficult. However, after crossing over towards the side of entrepreneurship, one must still weigh in the risks and rewards of starting a business.
Is there a demand for what you can supply? Are others supplying it better? How do you prove that your business is the best choice for consumers?
These questions seem trite, but their banality hints at the need for business owners to be intuitive and continually revisit these basic economic questions. It isn’t enough to do the research. Business owners need to be able to adapt to and thrive in a realm of uncertainty.
What This Post Won’t Be:
This post can’t possibly be a “how your small business will succeed if you do x.” It would be intellectually dishonest to give blanket advice and ignore the intricacies of regional differences, industry differences, market factors, supply chain factors, etc.
Instead, this post will help you properly address the reasons why you want to start a small business. It will be more about you than any cliche business tips. If you have yourself in order, then the success of your business is more likely to follow.
Why Do You Want to Start a Small Business?
Sometimes the most profound truths are hiding in the most fundamental questions. Guidant Financial and the Small Business Trends Alliance (SBTA) have broken down the main motivational factors for why real small business owners started their small businesses. Here are some of their findings:
- 29% of small business owners wanted to be their own boss.
- 17% of small business owners were fed up with the toxic cultures and restrictions in corporate America
- 16% of small business owners wanted to pursue their passions
- 12% responded that an opportunity presented itself
- 7% answered that they weren’t quite ready to retire
- 7% answered that they were laid off or outsourced
Looking at these statistics, it’s clear that the main driving factors behind starting a small business had nothing to do with industry-specific or money in general. It really came down to personality. 29% of respondents were tired of being someone’s employee and preferred instead to be steering their own ship. 17% were fed up with the structures and limitations imposed and enforced by corporate America. 16% wanted to do their own thing.
Business owners are individuals who want to write their own stories. They desire to further their passions and want to forge their own paths to get there. At their core being, they are leaders.
Personality Is the Distinguishing Factor
If you find yourself relating to the real business owners surveyed above, then you may have a business owner within you ready to blossom. If wanting to be your own boss and pursuing your passions are essential ingredients, then another vital personality trait is resilience.
It will be hard, and you will make mistakes. However, despite the many setbacks and obstacles facing small business owners, a vast majority of them (74%) responded they were “somewhat” to “very happy” when surveyed on their overall happiness. This survey from the same Small Business Trends Alliance quoted above was based on a five-point scale:
- (1) very unhappy, (2) somewhat unhappy, (3) neutral, (4) somewhat happy, and (5) very happy
According to Forbes, though 80% of small businesses survive their first year, only 50% survive five years, and 33% survive ten years. The businesses that survive learn from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others. They do not allow failure to be the roadblock that prevents their progress. Instead, failure is the cause for finding an alternate route — perhaps even the better route.
You Have to Begin Somewhere to Begin
Again, this seems obvious, but its truth cannot be understated. It can be discouraging to look at rival businesses that seem to have everything in place and seemingly from out of nowhere. You may have friends who have launched successful companies, and you are seeing them now — after they struggled and toiled to get off the ground.
You can almost guarantee that if they seem successful now, it is only because they have built off of their mistakes and the mistakes of mentors in their industry. Not only does this underline the importance of a business mentor, but it also shows those who may wish to start their own business that failure can be the greatest teacher.
Don’t get discouraged — take it one step at a time.
So How Do You Begin? Incremental Business Plan
As mentioned above, this post would be intellectually dishonest if it claimed to have a catch-all solution to your “starting a business” problem. However, this post does provide perspective and the introspection required to start asking the right questions.
Things to keep in mind:
- Progress is best measured in incremental steps. Set three-month, six-month, one-year, and three-year business plans and be ready to amend them! Flexibility is crucial to adapting to the uncertainty present in all markets and business ventures.
- Find a business mentor who is experienced and connected in their respective industry. They may even share your industry or be industry-adjacent. If competitiveness is an issue, consider reaching out to potential mentors who operate in regions that don’t compete with you directly.
- You will make mistakes. Look at these mistakes and their subsequent costs as a paid training exercise for you and your employees. If the error was a learning experience, then you just completed real-world training.
Remember, the sooner you start moving forward, the sooner you will pick up momentum. Once you get the ball rolling, there is no telling where it can take you.
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a writer, financial advisor, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area.