The journey of an entrepreneur
Any entrepreneur will tell you that the journey to establishing a profitable company is never easy. One requires self-discipline and determination to make things work. Some people are lucky to succeed without a struggle the first time, for others it becomes one long painful journey.
For those who abandoned their careers in formal employment to delve into entrepreneurship, you have to adapt to long weeknights and almost no pay until the business picks up. Walking away from a stable career to self-employment can be dicey but fulfilling in the long run.
You may however want to prepare yourself psychologically and financially before the exit and identify mentors who can guide you in your walk to become a self made entrepreneur. A lot of research and planning will save you the agony of setbacks and pitfalls of rushed decisions. Involving others along the way is a sure way to know you are on the right path. Allow for feedback and take criticism positively. Getting into a cocoon to figure things out on your own is a recipe for disaster. John Rampton on his seven life lessons in his entrepreneurship journey says one of the greatest business decisions you can make is to make time to help others. “People are more drawn to you when you help them.”
As an entrepreneur, comparing oneself with a fellow start up might not be the best way to go. You need to look up to someone who is ahead of you.
Most entrepreneurs fail because they draw up long term work plans and when things do not seem to go as planned they wallow in self-pity and give up on their dreams. Starting and managing a successful and profitable business takes time. It is advisable to draw short plans either quarterly or half year which are more manageable and easier to track progress of the business. Learn to celebrate small wins, this are what translate into big wins.
Kenyan media owner and business mogul Chris Kirubi once said there is nothing as fulfilling as celebrating the small wins. “ You do not have to crack a multi-million dollar sale for you to pop the champagne. The five people who saw potential in your product or service are as important as that million. Pat yourself on the back for any small achievement,” says Kirubi.
If your business is to succeed, there has to be 100% commitment. You have to develop resilience for both positive and negative times. Consistency in planning and execution will build the business that you dream of. You will fail a couple of times but get back up and try again, this time taking well calculated risks.
The journey to entrepreneurship is marred with a myriad challenges. Key amongst them is financing. Many argue that you need to have saved enough for your business before going full-time. No amount of capital is enough to cushion you from the changes and growth. Proper budgeting and planning may reduce the risks involved in cash flow challenges. Business cash flow will not always be consistent but as you go along, you need to be careful on how you manage your revenue streams and think of how to expand your funding options.
No great empire is built by one person. You need to have a team on board that speaks the same business language as you. Allow people to take up different roles and ensure that they are oriented into the culture of the business. Ensure the team is well in sync to work with each other towards achieving the end goal. As the business grows, you may find yourself overstretched therefore having to recruit more staff. As you do so, be cautious about the statutory costs that come with having more permanent employees on board.
There is the notion that once you become an entrepreneur you have more time for yourself because you are your own boss. This is not the case. The fact that you no longer report to an 8am to 5pm job does not mean you are free and have more time. Being your own boss means you have to work twice as hard to get the bills paid and ensure the business has sufficient cash flow. You have to be hands on, literally, but delegate the tasks you feel may not need your time.
When all is said and done, start thinking about your growth plan. Having experienced your business from infancy, you are now more aware of the risks involved, the profits, cash flow and customer reach. Based on the history, you will draw a clear plan on the milestones you want to achieve with the expansion.
By Mercy Mumo