The harsh realities of starting and running a business

There is a serious misconception amongst most would be entrepreneurs, whose main reason, amongst others, is to be independent and not to have to answer to a boss, and of course, achieve immediate success. While this may be true to a certain extent, there are certain ID-100235465realities of owning a business that you need to be aware of. The idea is not to scare you from starting your own thing, but I would rather you became aware now, so that you understand, and are fully prepared, to be able to deal with any of the eventualities you will encounter when you are fully operational and running.

Harsh Reality 1: Starting a business is like a roller coaster

You get into business because you an ‘epiphamy’, and a great vision for your business. And you think it’s going to be smooth sailing right? You will be hugely successful, yes? Well, in honesty it doesn’t quite work like that. Starting a business like running the Comrades marathon. You have to be able to live with uncertainty and push through challenges. Yes indeed, sometimes you can become hugely successful, but as immediately as you have become successful, you might just lose it all. Things are happening so fast, it’s all crazy out there. Look no further than businesses that closed down as a result of the economic recession of 2008-2009.

Harsh Reality 2: Owning a business isn’t easier than working at a nine-to-five job

You think that because you’ll be your own boss, things will be different, things will be easy? You can do as you want, any time you want, right? Although that is what most entrepreneurs believe, it is very inaccurate. Instead of having just one boss, you now have hundreds of bosses. Just think about all your customers because, essentially, each one of them is your boss. And because they buy your products and services, they are your bosses, as they have the right to demand them in a certain way, at a certain time. And if you don’t do what each of your bosses want, they will simply not buy from you, and sadly, your business may be forced to close down, or go bankrupt. In addition to that, when you work at a nine-to-five job, all you have to do is work from nine to five. When you have your own business, you usually end up working ten-to fourteen-hour days and, in many cases, seven days a week. You sacrifice so much of your time, your family, friends, your social life, because each of your bosses wants a product or service that is equal to their expenditure in your business. When you start making money, it becomes worse. You still have to put in long hours, continuously engage and entertain clients, and make sure your products and services meet and exceed the required quality requirements. This is what makes you stay in business.

 Harsh Reality 3: Consumers have to believe you are solving a problem

Your business is not about you. Irrespective of the fact that you may have come up with a great invention, it is simply not about you. It is about your customers. It doesn’t matter if you think you are solving a problem. All that matters is that your target customer thinks you are solving a problem. These are the people that are spending their money on you, your products and services. And unfortunately, if they don’t believe that you are solving their problem, you might as well close shop. Because you will soon go bankrupt.

 Harsh Reality 4: You have to make money

The main reason for any business to exist is to make money! Period. This is why you started that business in the first place. So, before you go ahead and implement your ‘epiphamy’, conduct your business idea research first, and ascertain if you are going to be making any money. If the results tell you that your idea is not going to be money making, then don’t waste your time and money on it. And if you are already into that non-money making business, get out ASAP. Like right now. Before you make further losses.

 Harsh Reality 5: You have to give a lot to get a little

It used to be so easy to start a business in the past and make lots of money. There wasn’t much effort required. However, today, the world has changed, and it is no longer easy to build a successful business. Today, you have to give a lot. Whether it is free information or samples of your product, you have to do something to build trust from your customers. If they don’t trust you, they won’t spend money with you. The sad reality of building trust with your customers is that it isn’t something that is easy to do or cheap. You could lose a lot of money before you gain people’s trust. Therefore, you need to be prepared. That is why it is critical to understand, as part of your business idea research, who your customers are and what they want from you. This will help you to plan what you can give for free to gain trust, so that they can start spending on you.

 Harsh Reality 6: Coolness is inversely correlated to success

Having a business, and being successful, is not about having the latest gadget, and it’s certainly not about being in expensive offices, and it is not about driving the latest car just to impress customers. It is about ensuring that you understand your customers and their requirements, give them quality products and service, and they will keep coming back to you.

 Harsh Reality 7: Time is worth more than money

Ever heard of the saying ‘Rome was not built in one day?’ Even though I personally believe that you have to spend time conducting your business idea research, the reality is that you don’t have to be ‘perfect’, to start making money. Yes, your business idea research is essential, so, as soon as you have the results informing you that there is a ‘market’ for your business, don’t wait to get: ‘perfect’ i.e. perfect website, perfect brochures etc. The companies that tend to succeed over time aren’t the ones that create the perfect business. Instead, they are the ones that get their company out in the public as soon as possible. So, get your company out there in the market, as quickly as possible. Of course, start small, but make sure customers know you exist. By so doing, you will be on the forefront to receive feedback about your products and services, and you will be able to improve them as you go along. You can continue to build your business as you continue to receive feedback. The idea is to get customers to buy from you. That’s it. So, get to the market. Now.

 My challenge to you? Rather learn and be prepared than be caught by surprise and end being demoralised and dilussioned. Business is a responsibility. Be responsible.

 Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.’ Warren G Tracey’s student

 Neil Patel wrote and published this article in 2009. Nothing much has changed since then. This article is an adaptation from his original article. You can get is in full here:

6 Responses to The harsh realities of starting and running a business

    • Thank you Trudy

      If we can all be aware of some of these things, perhaps the mistakes made by so many would be entrepreneurs can be avoided.

  1. Nice piece of work, one tip if you want to be a entrepreneur, surround yourself with positive like-minded individuals, it can be difficult to make your own business work if you hear from average people “YOU WILL NEVER MAKE IT”, people who never even tried to be entrepreneurs. Join one of our Entrepreneurs Workshops soon.

    • Hello Tom

      Thank you so much. We need a lot more people saying the same things, singing the same songs, over and over. So that the message can hit home, and hit hard.

  2. You really touched the most important and critical insights,if we can all see things that way, we can make a huge difference on most businesses. I have seen it practical but I couldn’t help cause people think your jealous when you start warning them of the that danger.

    • Hello Nkosinathi

      Thank you so much for your comments. Yes, we need to do something. You will be judged, you will be criticized. but if you stand up for what you believe in, then you will be on the right track. Nevermind those who criticize. Do what you have to do

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *