We all know the grim statistics about small businesses. One example: Ninety-five percent of the businesses that launch this year will not exist by 2019. I am convinced that this stat is caused by far more than a lack of money on the part of some unfortunate business owners. It's not business debt, and it's not the economy, either.
It is something in the mindset of these business owners. Some people just don't know what to expect when they start a company. So I thought I'd take a few minutes to share some truth.
1. Problem Solving Is Your New Job
You're going to encounter challenges and obstacles from the day you open your doors. You won't even be able to visualize these challenges before they land in your lap.
Some of these challenges will make you want to give up. And you will give up--if you don't accept the fact that your new title is "Chief Problem Solver." You have to get out there and attack your problems from every possible angle if you want to be successful.
If you aren't ready to jump these hurdles, your business is going to fail, even if you have an awesome new product, a plan to market it, and plenty of money to invest in your new business.
In any given month, I encounter problems that could easily drive any normal person to the brink of insanity. Remember all the office drama you used to avoid? It all started landing on my desk. It's going to land on yours, too.
Early in my career, I wasn't ready for this, and I almost quit, too. I wasn't sleeping. I felt like I was losing my mind. It wasn't clear yet that all of this was going to be worth it.
Now, after 10 years of running my own business, I welcome new problems. I now know they are a chance to grow my business, and grow my own skills as a business owner. You can come out the other side, too--if you prepare yourself for what lies ahead, and if you commit to embracing it.
2. You Get Paid Last
Trust me, it took me a while to grasp this one.
Your employees, vendors, contractors, landlords, and utility providers must all get their checks before you do. If there is anything left over when all of these checks are written, then, and only then, do you get to pay yourself.
You're out of business on the day that you can't pay all of these people. This is especially true if you have employees. If you miss even one paycheck, there will be an uproar in your office. You will kill morale, lose employee trust, and open yourself up to legal problems.
Failing to pay vendors and contractors on time is just as bad. It ruins relationships. The loss of these relationships will soon cause issues within your organization as you drop to the bottom of these people's priority lists.
And I don't think I have to tell you what happens if you don't pay your rent and utilities.
Just getting started? I promise it's going to be months before you ever see a check. Make sure you have money set aside to pay your personal bills during the lean months. Cut your personal expenses if you have to, because there is no way around this reality.
3. There Are No Vacations or Sick Days
You think you're working hard now? Wait until you start your own business.
You're going to get into the office early. You'll end up staying late and working through the weekends. You have to. You're now at the head of a machine that runs 24/7/365. People are depending on you. Until your organization grows, you'll be faced with enough work for literally seven people, or more.
I'm not exaggerating or pulling this number out of a hat. In my current company, we actually do have seven people doing the one job I took on when we started. I worked 12-hour days six days a week for more than two years.
So if you tell me you want to start a business because you're just working too hard now, please don't take it personally if I laugh. It is simply the laugh of someone who knows the truth.