With the “4 Hour Work Week” as a major seller and infomercials telling people they can go on vacation almost monthly and eat bon bons while they make money, it might give starry eyed wannabees the wrong idea about business. Let’s get real. It’s not true. Start-ups looking to these items as doctrine are in for a rude awakening.
Starting a business is tough and challenging. At the same time it can be rewarding and potentially the path to the financial freedom most people seek. However, on the road to starting a profitable business there are some things which some business owners might have left out of their discussions.
Prepare for long hours. That might be an understatement. According to a variety of sources, the average entrepreneur works at least 16 hour a day. Weekends off are almost a fantasy for the full-timer who needs to be able to cover bills.
– Planning is key, but also have a plan B. All the books and seminars tell of the importance of a business plan. Start ups often handle their plan in one of two ways. People stick to it like a Bible almost to their detriment, like in the case of Blockbuster. Or, they keep changing the plan with every new idea they hear, again to their detriment. Perhaps there is another option. Have a plan, but be flexible enough with it to change it if the market dictates the need to do so.
– Online marketing is not the only way to get customers. Some people like the idea of “free” marketing online. They think if they throw up a website, a Facebook fan page, and send some tweets the masses will come. This is highly unlikely. A good marketing plan knows where their audience is and how to get to them. Chet Holmes, a business strategist and best selling author of “The Ultimate Sales Machine”, believes direct marketing is still alive and well. He also thinks cold calling is not a dirty word. With his business clients, of which over 60 are Fortune 500 companies, he might know what he is talking about.
– Do what needs to be done. The illusion that the work will get done by itself as you tweet what you ate for lunch is unrealistic. Businesses are built one brick at a time whether it is on or offline. Having the idea that working for yourself means doing what you want when you want is the fast track to ruin. Working for yourself in some ways requires more discipline than working for someone else. There is no one hanging over your head to make sure the work gets done, so it is up to you. Your income is dependent upon you getting work done, products out the door, and obtaining new customers.
– Lone rangers die quickly. No one becomes successful alone. It is imperative entrepreneurs surround themselves with people who have built a business and are willing to help you build yours. This may take the form or giving advice, serving as a sounding board, or partnering with you. Mentors are available and should be utilized. The U.S. Government has two programs available to help entrepreneur. SCORE which has seasoned retired business owners who will assist in everything from the concept to the execution for free. The Small Business Administration has training courses in everything from writing a business plan to growing a business. There is nothing wrong with having a dream, but it must be peppered with some reality. Business take time to launch then maybe the 4 hour work week might not be a fantasy.