The mindset and preparation for starting a business
Making it enjoyable
Starting a business can be both enjoyable and tediously terrifying. The frame of mind you find yourself in when making the decision to embark on a startup and go hunting in the woods by yourself very much depends on your mindset; and that depends on motive and preparation.
We take a look at the mental attitude and practical preparation for starting a business and what you can do to turn risk into opportunity and fear into fun.
Motive – why are you doing this?
Some people are born to do their own thing. It’s in the DNA and working for someone else simply doesn’t make any sense. You might as well tell them that they have to sacrifice the whole of their lives to enable the dreams of complete strangers and the aghast expression resembles that of a freedom fighting Spartacus.
For others; age, redundancy or circumstance forces the issue and then it’s like being forced to go on holiday with the in-laws. You put on a brave smiley face and pretend the dilemma is in fact the most enjoyable moment of your life. You keep telling yourself that this is in fact a good thing and must be embraced.
“The reasons for setting up a business will directly influence your level of motivation to succeed.”
For those that set up a business due to circumstance rather then aspiration, many trundle over this perceived bump in the road of life and grow to enjoy this new enforced lifestyle and after six months or so will tell you that they would never return to the old life or their old timid self: the negatives regarding the lack of control, limited potential, watching the clock and the vulnerabilities of being employed by someone else seem far more eroding of the soul in retrospect than any lack of security that presents itself in the comparatively pulsating if not sobering existence where the buck stops with you.
And as those new found wings flap and get stronger, the initial dive towards the ground when jumping the nest is replaced with freedom and a soaring of the skies – whether they be blue or full of storm clouds, at least the direction you fly and the choices you make are down to you and not an employer which, no matter how well intended, must ultimately take care of the business rather than you.
Others simply evolve into running their own business, like an otter seamlessly slipping into a deep green motionless pond: no ripples, no dramas; a natural next step given their proven experience and a sound skill set.
Preparation enables the vision
Let’s start with the foundations: starting a business doesn’t mean you are an entrepreneur.
To improve the chances of taking a grown up and productive approach to the serious business of business, let’s just clean up a few misconceptions. Starting a business does not mean you are an entrepreneur. In its truest sense entrepreneurs deal with businesses much like a poker player works over the cards. They invest, buy, sell, build and then get people to run their businesses at the earliest opportunity in order to return to what really turns them on and that is seeking, creating and taking advantage of opportunities.
For entrepreneurs, risk is perceived as a productive variable that enables a ratio with value within the potential of the opportunity. It is all part of the calculation and how deals are made. This means true entrepreneurs have additional variables to analyse, conclude and work to their advantage.
For someone simply setting up a business in order to do that thing they do, there is a different game of cards and risk is a component to be carefully assessed, contained and minimised through realistic and careful planning.
And that is why it is dangerous, or at least confusing to consider the task of simply setting up a business and doing what you have always done as being entrepreneurial. It confuses the definition and therefore the manipulation of risk and the understanding of the variables involved. The process of reasoned decision making can then be corrupted and the last thing you need when assessing the feasibility of starting a business is a dodgy compass.
“Make sure you are going to do what you have already done well.”
If you are setting up a business to continue what you have already done as an employee then be comforted by the fact that you possess a skill or experience or both that has or should have already been tested and appreciated in the marketplace.
If you have previously been employed as a plumber and the customers you encountered gladly paid for the experience of working with you then you can feel confident that the “product” for your business will be good. And that is obviously important.
Achieving an accurate assessment of where you sit on the ability scale requires a long hard stare into the honesty mirror. You have to somehow obtain an objective appraisal of just how good or bad you actually are.
If you are not sure, then ask the views of a few people you respect as being both knowledgable and objective to give you an honest assessment. Friends and relations should not be included; although they can be useful as sources of motivation and third party confidants.
All this is important from the perceptive of risk. If you need to improve your abilities then do so. If you do not have a tested service then get one. Gain experience and test what you have before committing to setting up a business. Compromising on this means you are asking the world to cut you some slack while you learn or improve what you do, while at the same time asking for money.
In the real world, that is a big ask and an unnecessary risk.
If you have not done it before then get someone to pay you while you train
If your skill has not yet been tested or you do not yet possess the required skills then get them and test them on customers by first working for someone else.
If you do not follow this process with realism and patience but instead strive with impatience and shortcuts, then there is a higher risk of things going wrong at the front end and your business failing.
If you are not offering a personal skill but instead a product involving buying or making things then again, first work for someone and get them to pay you with wages for the privilege of training you in preparation of your future business project.
“One of the great things about working for someone else is that they are paying you to train for your future business.”
Learn how it’s done from someone else. Get to know what they do and how they do it. Learn the skills and processes of buying, selling, making; and if you can, get to know business administration processes such as bookkeeping, credit control, sourcing, negotiation and marketing.
Seek good methods and methods of improvement and write them into your little black book for reference for when you set up your own business. This is all about increasing your chances of success and reducing risk.
Undertaking this process will:
1. Confirm you are serious about the course you have chosen.
2. Clarify that you actually enjoy that environment.
4. Test your ability at no risk to you other than you might lose that particular job.
5. Confirm when you are ready for the next step of setting up the business.
The three pressure points of starting a business
For many people starting a business, money will be tight, there will never be enough hours in the day and any energy gained will be instantly spent by you being in two places at the same time. These are things that are dictated by the environment of starting a business.
“You are going to have to take your ground – a perfectly natural thing to do.”
You are simply reacting to the resistance of an ingrained circumstance; like a plant shoving its way into a crowded garden and straining to grow its way over the weeds around it, your new business is likely squeezing its way into an existing market – and its only source of energy and ability to achieve this is you.
Reshaping a current circumstance has been done countless of times before and as you read this, is being done in millions of situations all over this planet. It’s called existence. Which means that your particular project is perfectly natural and whether it is successful or a failure, it is what makes the world go around.
Know the difference between a problem and a process
Believing that every task is a problem will quickly sap your energy and tangle your nerves. Some tasks such as negotiation are frequent events in the everyday life of operating a business. Negotiating with suppliers and customers will have its good days and bad days. You will win some and lose some. It is all part of the process and not a problem.
Administration and paperwork errors by you, suppliers and customers will happen. Again it is part of the course (up to a point). And you will rectify errors and monitor progress. No dramas.
When real problems occur (and they will) you will work the situation to a solution in a reasonable and calm manner because that is what you do.
And remember to keep the mindset. Starting a business should be fun, exciting, terrifying at times but never boring.