From the moment you conceive the idea – you’ll be confronted with a series of unprecedented choices that only you can make decisions on. And there’re never easy; after all, there’s so much at stake. Here’s a few common scenarios that cause every entrepreneur to stop in their tracks at various stages of the game.
How to finance
If you have a pool of capital saved to kick-start your business then great, but suppose – like many – you don’t. Should you borrow or bootstrap all the way? It really comes down to individual circumstances, but you have to ask yourself this: Do you want to handicap your new venture with debt before you even know whether it’ll take off? Or, should you “live to your means” and think further outside the box to drive growth slowly and (most importantly) sustainably? There’ll be plenty of time to consider your investment options when you’re confident the going’s good.
When to quit the day job
This is a real conundrum. In an ideal world we’d close the door on our employer one day to start knuckling down on that business idea the next – the one that’s been hungry for time and attention since the day it was conceived. But unless you strike it lucky and dig up a huge pot of cash, that isn’t going to be possible – not while you still need a roof over your head and food in your stomach. The reality is, you’re going to have to keep your mind on the ball for that perfect moment – the time when the business is generating just enough revenue to keep you going while stationed at the crossroads where you know your extra time will really drive growth.
Spreading yourself too thin
As an entrepreneur, you have to perform every business function yourself – finance, marketing, product development, and everything else. That means a lot of hard work and long hours to make up for the salary packages you can’t [yet] offer. But there are dangers with burning the candle at both ends. Exhaustion is a real motivation killer and leads to inefficiency, so the line has to be drawn at some point. All entrepreneurs need to know when it becomes time to delegate tasks – either through outsourcing or with your first hire. Think of it as an investment. In other words, when does it become worth buying back some of your own valuable time?
Some start-ups find their niche and hit the ground running, while others steadily climb the growth curve. But one thing is more or less certain – however long it takes to get there, any successful business is likely to hit the good times and plateau. Then you’ll need to work out how you’re going to break through that wall and enter into growth phase number two. That could mean many different things for many different start-ups, whether it be forming a strategic alliance to enter new markets, joining forces with the right business partner, or seeking investment. The options are endless.
It’s lonely at the top
As an employee, you’re part of a team – or perhaps more negatively (and what drives most to become entrepreneurs), you’re a cog in a big wheel. But when you give that up to start out on your own, you’ll lose those like-minded individuals to share your problems and vent your frustrations with. In this game, it’s all you; a visionary, a problem solver, decision maker, and most importantly; a self-starter. Then there’s the long hours. A social life can be hard to maintain during the initial and most important ‘make or break’ years of the business.