As an entrepreneur you begin to learn really quickly that being a business owner, especially a start-up in the first three to five years is a challenge. While there are some great start-up stories that seem to go from idea to multi-million Naira business overnight; the reality is quite different for most business owners.
Is your start-up moving forward? Are you facing challenges and not sure how to get your start from idea to launch and beyond? There is a time in each business when you will face challenges but the start-up phase can sometimes be overwhelming.
So what can you do when faced with challenges in your start-up? Here are a few tips:
Know when to call for reinforcements: I have said this before in other blog posts but it is so important for you to recognize when you need support. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place, especially if you have no business partner or team in the beginning. You will have to deal with many situations, some that you may not have experience in.
Form an Advisory Board: reach out to your network and discuss your idea and vision for your company. Ask people who have experience and knowledge in areas that you are not strong in to be an adviser. This will allow you to have a network of experts to reach out to when you have questions. Advisers can sit on the board on a voluntary basis. I formed an Advisory Board through connections on LinkedIn in the early days of my business and would not have been able to manage some pretty sticky situations without them.
Host a small business group: Having routine meetings with other entrepreneurs with the premise of addressing business challenges can be a great way to get help when you need it. Set up the small group with the idea of highlighting two or three members a month to discuss business challenges. As a group, you can come up with ideas on addressing the issue and implementing a solution.
Make self-development a priority: While it can’t be expected that you know everything, in a start-up you have to where many hats. This can be especially challenging if your area of ability revolves around the operations of the business but maybe not business management, sales or marketing. These critical areas can make or break your business.
Participate in training opportunities: Attending webinars, seminars and training sessions in areas where you feel a need to improve upon is a great way to develop. There are many organizations like the Small Business Administration, Chambers of Commerce and other small business groups that offer educational opportunities. Don’t ignore the need to enhance your skills in areas that you aren’t strong.
Develop strategic partnerships: If you are faced with trying to grow your business on your own with minimal resources a strategic partnership can be a great opportunity. These mutually beneficial relationships can help both you and your strategic partner overcome challenges. This relationship can be formed with someone who sells/services the same type of client you do; offers similar services or offers complementary services. In some cases this may even be someone who others would see as competition.
Work with a partner to enhance both businesses: I have found great success in working with strategic partners. These partnerships have given me the opportunity to expand my service offering, obtain clients that were otherwise out of my reach and create synergies with fellow entrepreneurs. When seeking out these partnerships be sure that everyone involved wants to support a mutually beneficial relationship. It is important for these partnerships to be formed in everyone’s best interests. Whether you form a consortium to offer bundled services or offer services to one another, strategic partnerships are a great way to grow your business.
Over the past few years I have learned a lot as a business owner. I have seen my first business fail and I have seen businesses thrive. I work with businesses of all levels and have seen start-ups fail first hand. No one goes into their business venture expecting to fail but it happens.
The important thing to remember is that your start-up is hard work. It will require passion, commitment, determination, and some sleepless nights to make it work. You will have supporters and naysayers all around you. Developing relationships with other entrepreneurs and continually developing yourself makes the difference between success and failure.