Every business starts with an idea and a dream of making it big. But, the road to success is often rough and it’s rarely simple. Many challenges will be unique to your business, product, or service. However, some common tests are encountered across all startups—employee turnover, burn out, and product failure to name a few. If you are prepared for the trials you may face, you’ll have a better chance of overcoming them and succeeding. To help minimize the impact of these situations, here are four lessons most entrepreneurs have learned the hard way, so maybe you won’t have to.
1. Your first idea is rarely the best idea.
Launching a product or service is like giving birth to a baby. It is your brain-child, delicate and fragile. Criticism of your product is like hearing that your baby is ugly. Or worse, you don’t hear anything at all. When an entrepreneur launches something they love, they expect the market to love it too. When the market ignores your product/service—not purchasing, interacting, or engaging with your marketing—they may simply be telling you that they don’t like your product, but don’t want to outright tell you.
And that’s Okay. First ideas often segue into profitable ideas or products if you listen to your market and to what they really need. Success is not about getting it right the first time. It’s about getting it right eventually and quickly. To quote Eric Ries, “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” Eric Ries’s, “The Lean Startup” is a must-read for first-time entrepreneurs.
Lesson: Don’t get married to your ideas. Focus on the metrics that matter. Test everything before and continue testing while you build your business.
2. Hiring the wrong person costs more than hiring the right person.
When new entrepreneurs hire their first employee, it’s usually based on how much they like the person or how cheaply they can employ them, and not about how good that person is at their job or how well suited they are for the role.
At first, it doesn’t seem to be a bad idea to hire based on salary or likability. But it only takes a few times to discover that hiring people who are good at the work they do, even if they are more expensive, saves you money over the long run. Red Adair explained it well when he said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
Lesson: Take your time when hiring. You may have heard this before, “hire slow and fire fast.” It’s applicable to this point. Only hire when you absolutely must, initially. If there are things you can do yourself early on, do them. But also, if it’s best to hire and delegate to focus on cash-generating activities, do that too. This is when you’ll have to trust your instincts.
3. Your mental health impacts your business’s success.
There is a dark side to entrepreneurship. Starting and growing a business takes fortitude and focus. Too often entrepreneurs put all their energy into the health of their business, neglecting their own health. Day-to-day stress, long hours, “always on” mentality can affect your mental and physical health. Anxiety and depression are not uncommon when building a new business.
The more you struggle physically and mentally, the more your business will struggle. According to Austin Paulsen, the founder of AP Performance, “It doesn’t take long to figure out that your own mental fortitude directly influences how quickly your business grows. I coach lots of people on their health and if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that a person’s health directly impacts their daily performance, at home and behind the desk.”
Lesson: Your mental and physical health is everything, and it’s not worth the cost of your success. Don’t fall into an unhealthy trap. Be an entrepreneur focused on longevity and sustainability, which means you need to focus on your physical and mental health too. Eat healthily, exercise often, and disconnect from your business multiple times per week.
4. The road to success isn’t short.
Dreams of speedy success abound when you launch your new company. For some businesses that dream becomes a reality. But, don’t get sucked into the idea that rapid success is the best. Some of the brightest shooting star businesses burned out the fastest. Focus on long-term success.
Setting long-term goals and looking forward can be boring, but you’re far more likely to succeed if you do. Be prepared for the long-term spikes and plummets that come with building a solid company that sustains the test of time.
Effective entrepreneurs have learned that you must enjoy the journey to make it to the goal. If you love it, then you’ll succeed.
Lesson: Be patient in your journey. Don’t compare yourself or other companies to other entrepreneurs. Focus on the things you can control. Entrepreneurship can be a great experience, but it can also be the most volatile. Embrace your journey.
Fortunately, you can learn from people who’ve already been there and done that. Successful entrepreneurs will act as your guiding light to help get you where you want to go. Find mentors, read books and network with your peers. Follow Allied Financial on LinkedIn and bookmark our site for more information on Business Growth, Development, and Entrepreneurship. Turn to Allied Financial when you need working capital or lines of credit. Our goal is to help fulfill your dream of success.
For more entrepreneur resources: Tips to Grow as an Entrepreneur