We tend to think that being an entrepreneur is not a process or a science and to some degree there is sense in that, but, there are things that we all do that are the same – we have our peaks and troughs, highs and lows. I call this the 6 life stages of being an entrepreneur, start-up or small business owner. Take a look:
#1: Going together
More than 80% of all entrepreneurs will start-up with one or more people in a partnership. Some last the distance but many don’t. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula all went together and were successful because each of them had a specific role to play. Jobs was an ideas man, Wozniak was the software guy and Markkula knew how to get the money to fund the ideas. Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft together because they too had complimentary skills. There are people who go it alone such as Michael Dell and Richard Branson but what you fast realise they weren’t alone in the sense that they had support networks in place from mentors and investors to family and friends. However, Dell and Branson knew they needed to acquire talent to fill gaps along the way in their own skill sets and knowledge.
#2 Not the forest for the trees
The biggest challenge is getting to a forest and suddenly realising you have different ideas, views and sense of direction to your other business partners. This is the critical first challenge in all start-ups as those differences of views and opinions can impact on strategic direction and put the entire business plan into jeopardy. The thing about entrepreneurs is that they can also be stubborn which means relationships are more likely to breakdown as opposed to trying to resolve the differences of opinion. Eventually as you exit the forest research shows that many people attempt to go it alone.
#3 Going it alone, climbing up hill, storm clouds gather
Many entrepreneurs don’t realise just how tough things are the first time around. As you go it alone you are confronted by all sorts of challenges from getting the product right and getting traction with the first customer. But, there are other challenges ranging from filing your taxes to doing the accounts, from managing the website and marketing to managing your own personal relationships. Most small business, start-ups and entrepreneurs have peaks and troughs as they attempt to navigate through the highs and lows of the small business start-up mountain range.
Eventually we fall and the severity of the fall will always depend on how you handle yourself on the way down. Many see the fall as a complete failure and we go through so many emotions from questioning our ability and capacity to the veracity and substance of the idea we had that got us started in the first place.
#5 Seeing the forest for the trees
As we go through the process of unpacking what went right and what went wrong we soon realise that there are in fact a lot of lessons we can learn from the experience and they can be important. On the one hand it could be about how to better manager personal and professional relationships to the process of structuring the business, understanding cash-flow, how to manage customer expectations and so on – the truth is, there are a number of lessons that can be learnt in failure. By reflecting and grieving we eventually come to the same forest again – but this time, we can see the forest for the trees because the next time around we are more knowledgeable and experienced than before and that’s when;
#6 We are ready to start again
The lessons of understanding the 6 life stages of being an entrepreneur, start-up and small business are these:
About Talking Lifestyle Second Career
Talking Lifestyle Second Career is the 2UE Networks premier show when it comes to entrepreneurship, careers, employment, jobs and small business. Whether you want to get back into work, or want to change the work you currently do, then Second Career can help. David Prior and employment guru Matthew Tukaki have plenty of tips, ideas and information about careers live from 9pm-11pm AEST Mondays. But wait there is more! Matthew is also joined by his afternoon Co-Host Ed Phillips from 3pm - 4pm Mondays for the drive home!
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