So you want to start and run a business?
Remember this - It’s not for everyone
by: Tarrus Zayd C.
So you want to start and run a business, huh?
You have an idea and some talent and you believe you should be able to parlay that talent into a lucrative business, right? Well, before you go ahead and start that business, you may want to take a few minutes to digest exactly what you are getting yourself into. Like many other things in life, starting a business isn’t easy. Deciding whether you’re going to be a sole proprietorship, LLC, or Incorporated may sound like a heavy burden but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Actually, that’s probably the easiest part of running a business. I spent the past three months following around my wife Gloria Cunningham of the Ambitious Soul and Darrell Belcher of Belcher Catering. Gloria is a business strategist and Darrell is a (you guessed it) a caterer. These are the five things that I learned about running a business after my time with Gloria and Darrell.
1. It takes a MAJOR sacrifice
There’s a reason why I used all caps to spell out the word 'MAJOR'. I used it to illustrate the importance of the sacrifice it will take to run a successful business. Running a successful business requires a lot and that will most likely include not having a full-time job. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. Giving up the security of getting a paycheck every week or every two weeks for the uncertainty of getting paid only when someone agrees to pay you. In a regular job, you either get paid by the hour or you get a guaranteed salary. When you are running a business, you can put many hours into a project but end up with minimal or no payout due to expenses. You have to be willing to sacrifice security, time, sleep, and family to an extent in order to run a successful business and that’s a sacrifice many people aren’t willing to make. That’s exactly why many businesses fail and why many people choose not to start a business. One a Sunday afternoon when most of the world is resting or enjoying their day I watched my wife spend one hour preparing her agenda, five hours working on her laptop, and another hour picking up printed materials. So that’s seven hours spent and no payment at the end of the day for all those hours worked. Now to be clear, the hours are built into the price but that’s the difference between running a business and working at a job. Working at a job, you know when you’re going to get paid and can expect that money like clockwork but running a business is different. When you are providing a service to someone, you may get paid in two or three payments. Normally you get paid the deposit to start the service and won’t get the rest of the payment until the job is completed. In some cases, it could be a whole month before you get full payment. It’s a tough way to live but the first thing you need to do is determine if you’re willing to make the sacrifice.
2. It’s not very rewarding at first
We see business moguls like Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, and Jay-Z and watch them live lavish lifestyles wishing we could make the kind of money they’ve made. We’d already know how we would spend that money, but what we don’t realize is that there is a starting point to this. If you ask any business mogul, they’d probably tell you it was not very rewarding when they started their businesses. We only come to know of these people after they’ve made it big but we never got to see their struggle. We never got to see the hours they had to put in just to get a single client. The first day I followed Darrell, we made a lunch drop off at a local hotel. I arrived at his kitchen just before 8am to prepare the food for drop off at 11:30am. On the menu we had grilled chicken breasts, Penne alla Vodka, and a salad. The first thing we needed to do was to purchase the food so we went to Sam’s Club. When we finally left Sam’s Club, we hurried back to the house to prepare the food. I unwrapped the chicken and cleaned it with cold water. Next, I added the vodka and sauce to the Penne alla Vodka. It was just me and Darrell in his kitchen preparing the food for what would turn out to be a bill of just over $360. It was hard to imagine that all of this work was only going to net Darrell $360 and some change before subtracting his expenses, but that’s the life of an entrepreneur starting a business. Sometimes you have to sacrifice on one end in order to get the rewards on the back end. You may have to provide services that may bring little money in return just so you can get your name out there. It’s another sacrifice you must be willing to make in order to run a successful business.
3. It takes a lot of help
Most people only see the men and women at the forefront of a successful business but may not realize how much help they had along the way. A successful business doesn’t become successful without the help of a team. There’s no way these businesses can succeed without the help of talented people with passion and a drive who are willing to help someone else’s dream come true. It’s not a choice; it’s a necessity. Even the greatest business minds aren’t perfect. Some of the most successful businessmen and businesswomen have shortcomings and that’s why they hire people who are excellent in areas that may not be strengths of theirs. For example; for the Ambitious Soul, Gloria runs all printed materials and emails by me for editing before those materials go out to the public. I serve on her team as Editor and Chief. Why does she asks me to edit those materials? Because editing is an area that is a strength of mine. Gloria already had me pegged for this particular area before even starting her company. A great businessman or woman isn’t great because they know everything; they’re great because they know enough to know that they don’t know everything and so they put the right people in positions where they may not be so strong in without letting their ego get in the way. A great owner, boss, or coach knows how to delegate the responsibilities in order to get maximum production. They say it takes a village to raise a child; well it’s the same when it comes to a business. No one can do it on their own.
4. Self doubt creeps in very often and faith is required
Personally, the most important thing I learned is the importance of eliminating self doubt and having faith. Most people believe that if you have a product or service that consumers want or need, then you shouldn’t really have much doubt because the product or service speaks for itself. Wrong! Self doubt creeps in more than you may think and it requires all the faith you have in you not to quit the business and go back to the stability of a 9-5 job. There are going to be little disappointments along the journey and how you handle those disappointments will determine whether your business is going to be a success or if you’re going to close down the shop. It’s not easy so having faith in you and your product is necessary to get over the self doubt you’re sure to feel. While working with Gloria at the Ambitious Soul; she had a client that hired her to build a resume. Gloria is very thorough with the process when it comes to putting together the resume so she asks plenty of questions to get a full understanding of the client’s qualifications and goals. The client thought differently. The client just wanted to have the resume done with little input on their end but Gloria had a process which leads her to providing her best work so she stuck to her process. Needless to say, the relationship ended and that could easily have led Gloria to question her process causing self doubt to creep in. I’m sure there were days where she questioned if she should’ve changed how she operates for this client but having faith in her product and in herself, she was able to conquer the self doubt. Losing a client or a potential client can lead to those moments where you question yourself but having faith in yourself is necessary to get through those rough patches and allows you to continuing to do what you love doing instead of deciding that running a business isn’t for you. That’s the biggest difference between successful businesses and the ones that do not succeed. To quote Thomas A. Edison, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”.
In conclusion, we are talking a dream, a hustle, 15 hour days, and almost close to ZERO immediate gratification.
Still want to start a business?