Allen Baler: Five Challenges Every New Entrepreneur Faces
You’re in a job that you tolerate and which pays the bills, but you’re not satisfied. You want something more. You don’t mind working hard, but you want to work for yourself instead of for someone else. You have that entrepreneurial itch, but you’re on the fence regarding whether it’s worth the risk. What are you going to do?
When people come to me with this dilemma, I share my personal story with them. I tell them that I do not regret for a minute my decision to go into business for myself about 10 years ago. I also let them know that I never could have successfully made the move if I had not paid my dues and learned much along the way in the corporate world.
I never sugarcoat it. I tell them in no uncertain terms that they will face many challenges if they go the entrepreneurial route, especially during the first few years.
(Actually, they will face challenges during the entire journey. It’s just that most of the challenges during the first few years involve keeping your head above water. Eventually, the challenges become more about swimming faster and farther than the competition.)
Here are five of the challenges entrepreneurs face early on. If you are considering quitting your fulltime job and launching your own business, it would be a good idea to seriously consider each one.
- Business Choice. This might be a no-brainer. You may already have a passion for a particular product or service you can provide that you are confident people will want to purchase. But if not, make sure that the business you select fills a real need. People only buy luxury items when the economy is good, but they will always purchase stuff they need.
- Marketing. Unless you’ve developed a cure for cancer, your product or service will probably have competition – maybe a lot of it. You need to figure out a way to reach a significant number of people with a message that communicates both the need and your ability to meet that need better than anyone else can. Read as much as you can about this subject and talk to other entrepreneurs who have taken the leap of faith.
- Financing. Depending on the business you have selected, you’re probably going to need some capital to get started. If you have to borrow money to launch your dream, do it. But if you can start small with what you have and be creative in delivering your message, you’ll be better off. You’ll save a lot of money right off the bat if you can sell through the Internet rather than requiring a brick and mortar structure.
- Managing Your Time. This one sounds a lot easier than it is, but you will soon learn that time is your most valuable commodity. And there’s not nearly as much of it available as you had thought. Starting a new business is going to take up almost all your energy, so you need to make sure you are devoting a sufficient percentage of your time to each of the key facets of your business, including product development, finding customers, testing various marketing strategies and the all-important but often overlooked customer service.
- Dealing with Self-Doubt. Everybody’s personality is different, so you may be more or less prone than others to becoming discouraged when things don’t go as well as you had hoped. But this is something EVERY entrepreneur deals with to some extent. If launching a new business were easy, everybody would do it. It’s not. It can be extremely challenging and there will be times when you will regret your decision. But stick with it. Every successful business has overcome serious challenges, thanks to determination and hard work by those who believed in the vision.
Of course, there will be plenty more challenges, including accounting, hiring freelance and fulltime employees, delegating tasks and responsibilities, finding business partners, etc. But if you can navigate those rough seas, it will all be worth it. There is nothing in the world like the feeling of getting a new business up and running and headed in the right direction.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.