It all sounds so adventurous and even a bit romantic. You have packed up your office, said goodbye to co-workers who have all expressed their envy and now here you are. No, you haven’t retired. You have decided to make the leap into entrepreneurship.
You have no intention of becoming a statistic – as studies have shown that nine out of 10 startups fail. You’ve researched the reasons for startup failures and believe that you have mitigated most of them.
These are all of the ingredients of successful startups. Now, if you can just stay on track, follow the plan and make a success out of this new baby of yours.
The things you will experience that no one tells you about
When you talk with other entrepreneurs, you often get a very rosy picture of their lives and their business success. They don’t want to admit that things may be falling apart, both in their business and personal lives. And so, they maintain the façade and project that to you.
Truth be told, there are a lot of downsides to entrepreneurship and you need to be prepared for them.
Here’s just a partial list of the stressors and pitfalls that you may encounter. Knowing that they will come and planning in advance for them can make a huge difference.
You already know that you will spend long hours during the first months (and maybe longer) on business. And if you don’t have the wherewithal to employ help in the beginning, you are it. Every facet of your business – marketing, sales, contracts, budget and finances – it’s all on your shoulders.
Your days are spent with clients/customers and marketing efforts. All of the details – the website and social media maintenance, the invoicing, the bookkeeping – these are things you will do at night and on weekends.
It’s not just the details that will keep you up at night. It’s the worry and the planning. Entrepreneurs who are committed to their startups have a difficult time shutting down their brains when they hit that pillow. You will need to develop and practice some techniques to get decent sleep, because if you don’t, you brain will not function properly during the day.
In an ideal world, successful startups grow steadily and regularly, making their founders very happy. In the real world, this is not the case. You will have great months and wonderful “highs.” You will also have deep valleys of bad weeks or months and may begin to question whether or not you should carry on. Those low times are what will test your resolve, so be prepared for those times you want to give up and have a strategy for keeping your head up. Working with a career or business coach may be a good option, as they can help you keep your eyes on the prize when times are tougher.
One entrepreneur began his business with an amazing website featuring his products. He realized that he was losing out on an entire demographic because he had not accommodated potential Hispanic customers that his competition was netting. This was because he had never considered developing his site and his social media platforms in Spanish.
Don’t ignore the potential global reach of your products/services and the need to have all of your online content translated and/or localized for foreign markets. You should compare translation features and prices to make your buying decisions easier as you look for a service to do this for you.
It is costly to acquire new customers, so you want to do as much as you can to keep your current ones coming back. And your competition will always be nipping at your heels. Customers are very fickle and if they think they are not getting personalized and responsive service from you, they will leave. Keeping your customers happy means that you do whatever you can to establish personal relationships with them and you respond immediately to any question or concern they have. This becomes more difficult as that customer base grows. Fortunately, there is some great software out there to help you do this. Use it.
If you don’t use any social media monitoring software, you’ll want to get some right away. Using these tools will allow you to monitor your social reach and alert you any time your brand is mentioned anywhere on the web. You will need to set aside time every day to check this out. One piece of negative content about you that sits out there without your response will “kill off” potential customers. This is a part of customer service, but deserves its own mention. Never neglect to review every comment or piece of feedback.
While all of those former co-workers look upon you with envy, but what they don’t understand (and, at first, you may not either) is that the stressors and pressures to perform and to make a “go” of your startup will take their toll. The worry, anxiety, lack of sleep and daily demands on your time are called stressors and too many of them without good coping skills on your part will drain your enthusiasm. In recent studies, 42% of entrepreneurs report being heavily stressed and 30% reported being depressed.
Only you know what relieves your stress. It may be going to the gym, walking, taking a day off to be with family or a weekend getaway with friends. The issue is that a lot of entrepreneurs don’t do these things and they suffer burn out. When that becomes extreme, they hang it up or worse. No business will survive founder burnout.
Every startup founder begins with optimism and enthusiasm. Somewhere along the line, however, 90% of them experience issues they cannot overcome. Many of these they have not prepared for in advance.
If you understand these seven threats to your success, you can be proactive in your defence against them. With all of your planning, your crazy schedule, your long hours and your sacrifices, do not fail to prepare for these hurdles and have a plan in place to deal with them effectively. This can mean the difference between the 90% and the 1% that make it.
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Dina Indelicato is a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer. She is always open to research about new topics and gain new experiences to share with her readers. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.