By Felix Tarcomnicu
The journey to finding success as a startup is fraught with several challenges. But the key to success often lies in the ability of the entrepreneur to manage these difficulties and accept them a part of the process. As you are about to read, life itself provides the best training ground for success.
1. Embrace life’s hardships. Before Freshly Picked, a manufacturer of children’s moccasins, grew into a $5.4 million business, there was a time that founder Susan Peterson would be thrilled to receive an $86 tax credit from the IRS. The company where she worked as an executive assistant shuttered down and it came at a time when she was pregnant with her first job. She knew that not having completed her college degree would give her limited career options. But she also knew that she had to do what she could do to put money in the family coffers. She sorted potatoes, waxed floors and delivered newspapers to make ends meet. When she could not find baby shoes to fit her child, she decided to make a pair of moccasins from leather straps she bought at a yard sale for one dollar. The moccasins eventually became Freshly Picked; a brand popularized by some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities. Peterson regards her difficulties in life as preparatory for the success she has found today. It was a fearful time in her life but she made the decision to face up to the hardships because there was more at stake than her own pride and integrity. The experiences made her appreciate the journey that took her from penniless to multi-millionaire.
2. Let people do their jobs. While most startups commence as one-man enterprises, eventually the volume of work will scale up. At this point, the entrepreneur will have to delegate some of the responsibility so he can focus more on the essential tasks that bring money to the business. But entrepreneurs by nature; like to be in the driver’s seat. It is not uncommon for them to frequently oversee what their employees are doing. Todd Pederson, owner of Vivint, a billion-dollar home automation company based in Utah says that if you’ve hired great people to do specified jobs in your business you should just let them work and perform their duties and functions. There’s a reason you hired them in the first place and that is because what they do is not among your core competencies. Hovering over them will only serve to impede their productivity.
3. Dream big but act small. Entrepreneurs are people who are highly passionate about their ideas. It is not uncommon to meet an entrepreneur who believes he has come across the “next big thing”. It is perfectly fine to dream big but entrepreneurs have to realize that success is a destination that is subject to many conditions, circumstances and situations all of which are unpredictable. You have to manage your business according to scale. If you have limited funding or access to capital, you should prioritize spending on items that will greatly contribute to the profitability of your enterprise. According to Eric Dahan, founder of InstaBrand an online branding strategy company, even though they believed in the viability of their concept, they chose to be judicious in how they spend their funds to develop their business. These included working from Dahan’s kitchen, attending free networking seminars and other means to keep their operating budget down to a few hundred dollars a month. Every dollar the group made went back to the company.
4. Don’t be afraid of change. If your enterprise is not turning in a profit despite your best efforts, do not give up. Take valuable time to evaluate your business model. Break it down to its bare components and objectively analyze why it is not working. Review the performance numbers and website analytics and use these as reference points to pinpoint which areas are lagging in your business. If your budget can afford it, hire a reputable business consultant to review the numbers with you. It could be that your business model just needs some adjustment. Stephen Key, founder of InventRight, realized deep into his career as a toy maker that he would not be able to produce the volume necessary to make his business viable. So he learned all about manufacturing and was able to develop new skills and take his toy making business to another level.
5. Always search for opportunities, even if there aren’t any available. The new millennium has been besieged by many world changing events and these have transformed the global business environment into one that is volatile, unpredictable, chaotic and ambiguous. The most successful entrepreneurs are able to find opportunities in a time of turbulence. They are able to develop products and services that identify and address specific needs. In fact, during times of recession entrepreneurs who are small business owners have a distinct advantage over big businesses because of their degree of flexibility. Business models are less complex and structured that they can innovate their services without much resistance. It will be easier for small businesses to accommodate new opportunities than large corporations.
Business as is life; is unpredictable. You can be “King of the Hill” one day then find yourself as the “low man on the totem pole” the next. The ones who are able to sustain their success and build on their businesses are those who are able to survive through life’s daily challenges. If you cannot manage your failures, how would you expect to manage your successes? The bottom-line is as an entrepreneur you should not be afraid to take on the challenges of business and as with life, you may have to take chances or make compromises to succeed.