The hoped-for smooth transition to an entrepreneur from an employee didn’t quite come off as planned. Occasionally, despair comes into play as some days dissolve in an ocean of little issues and payments that are almost too late. You anticipated that the machines would malfunction, but not all at once. You expected production glitches, but not every month. However, interspersed with the tumult are abiding sunbeams that say “Get up” every morning with hope and a desire to continue on. Gildshire asked a few entrepreneurs who are already more than a year into managing their own business to offer our readers an insight into their first 12 months, as well as how they could have improved that first spin around the sun. Here are their thoughts.
1. Don’t Believe You Can Go it Alone. The first-year entrepreneur knows how to read a clock. There are just 24 hours in a day. But he/she rarely acts on that valuable piece of information. When things at work go south, the new entrepreneur stays later and later, robbing tonight’s sleep, with the plan to make it up tomorrow. A few short nights of sleep and suddenly a bad thing becomes a worse thing.
What to do instead? Identify those highly-important parts of your operation where you lack overall expertise. Recruit and hire skilled help in these positions. Monster.com can help. But, (and this is important!) only hire employees who have more expertise than you where those areas are concerned. Hire them and set them free on the tasks you don’t know! Yes, you will incur higher costs, but you’ll drive your business’ growth with what will later be called a bold move.
2. Take “No” (No matter how much it hurts) for an Answer: When you first start out as an entrepreneur, you’ll have just a few networked contacts. So the temptation will be there to hit this network up over and over again. I understand you just opened a new restaurant! Even your BFF won’t want to eat dinner there every night. Hey, you just wrote a book! The ratio of “can’t wait” to the number of people who actually read your 2.5-year labor of love is discouragingly high. It’s okay.
What to do instead? Reach out to a larger world. As new-to-you people enjoy your restaurant, they’ll tell other people (who you don’t know). Soon, your outdoor lunch seating area is full of folks you’ve never met. Isn’t that a great feeling? They arrived because they want to have a great meal in your restaurant, rather than out of a sense of obligation to a friend.
3. Be sure your production matches the demand. Maybe you do have friends that come out to your restaurant frequently or actually, want a copy of your book. Make sure there are enough food and books to go around. If you fail with one person and turn them away, they’ll tell ten people about their troubles.
What to do instead? Not one entrepreneur in a hundred is turning down a sale so we won’t go there. So, examine your pipeline, and build an understanding of choke points along the way. What happens should you oversell? Make sure flexibility and efficiency are in your process.
4. Enjoy your little successes as they come along. Gildshire has heard a too-common misconception, and it bugs us. It goes like this: “An afternoon taken to enjoy one’s success breeds malaise.” The truth is quite the opposite. Taking a moment to enjoy the journey of owning your own shop actually makes the hard work feel easier.
What to do instead? Plan an afternoon event that isn’t work-related. (A picnic at a local park is one good idea. Bowling night is another.) Host lunch at a local restaurant when a vital transaction goes in your direction. These small things are how you acknowledge your business’ little wins and for your workers to enjoy the bounty of their labor.
Congratulations on the strides you have taken thus far! You’re on your way to becoming a highly successful entrepreneur. Enjoy the process, because you have a good run ahead of you.