Overcoming the Challenges of a New Entrepreneur
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
You decided to go it on your own. You have the vision, you have the skills, you know your ready to be in charge. But now you’re sitting there thinking “where do I start?”. It hits you - running a plumbing business is more than just plumbing. Running a clothing brand is more than just selling shirts. You have to think about cash flow, overhead, taxes, staffing, funding and the legal stuff. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so here are the lessons I've learned along the way.
How do you make sure everything gets covered? You don’t have to stumble around on your own… there’s many that have gone through this transition before you and are often willing to share their story. Mentorship programs are available through local organizations and one suitable for your needs can be found at Mentorship BC.
Beyond them, there are many services available locally to help you sort out the next steps.
For example, Small Business B.C. can connect you to resources such as a free 30 minute general business consultation, business plan templates, cash flow forecasting tools, education, checklists and even accounting or legal advice.
If you’re a student or a recent graduate, schools often have entrepreneurial services as well, such as the BCIT Student Association’s one-on-one consultation for startup entrepreneurs. The Student Association also connects you to free market research, licensing, and funding resources.
If you are looking for access to start up capital, Work BC provides a directory of loans, grants and funding options.
Outside of the tasks at hand, there’s another element to keep in mind - self-management. You’re in charge now, and as I’ve discussed in some of our previous blog posts, your schedule and your lifestyle is now up to you. If you’re coming from the 9-5 life, this freedom can be both exciting and dangerous.
We all sometimes feel that we aren’t getting enough done in a day. As an entrepreneur, this can be especially true. Time management is an imperative skill for your success. Entrepreneur.com states that improving in this area starts with tracking your time; knowing where you’re spending it and where you’re wasting it. The age old saying that time is money is factual, and by knowing where it’s going, you know what sacrifices you’ll have to make to push yourself and your business forward.
Once you know what your tendencies are, you can set a schedule to correct the pitfalls. With an organized schedule, you can more effectively make time for self care as well; things like getting enough sleep and eating enough to stay productive. You probably already know, it’s easy to neglect such things when you’re keeping yourself busy.
Another very important aspect of self-management is decision management. Decision fatigue is real. As discussed by New York Times, studies have been conducted to measure the effects of making too many decisions in a day, and “these experiments demonstrated that there is a finite store of mental energy for exerting self-control. When people fended off the temptation to scarf down M&M’s or freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, they were then less able to resist other temptations”.
Personally, I learned to start my day with low-consequence personal tasks such as laundry, cleaning etc. Once my brain is warmed up I move on to the most intensive decision-making problems of the day. Closer to the end of the day (or night, as I am definitely a night owl), when decision fatigue starts to set in, I move on to creative work. Finally, I close my day with the mindless tasks that I need to take care of, like data entry for example.
Thinking Outside of Your Box
We’ve talked about your inward mentality, but the way you see the outer world may need some shifting as well. Let’s say you are an electrician by trade. You know your way around that field of work well, but how much do you know about marketing your new company?
Possibly for the first time, you’ll have to step outside of the box of your trade, and build a basic understanding of different fields. Depending on your resources, you may have to tackle these challenges yourself. Even if you’re intending to hire people to handle your marketing, bookkeeping, etc., a fundamental understanding would help you choose the right candidate.
That brings me to my next point; you can’t do it all yourself. You’ll HAVE to find help eventually. If you’re a real do-er, like many aspiring entrepreneurs are, it can be hard to take your hands off and hand over the controls. But you only have so many hours in a day, and to scale the business upwards, you’ll have to learn to delegate effectively.
Starting a business is entering a whole new world. There’s a lot of bases to cover, but thankfully the resources you need are easily accessible locally. Self management is another issue. Likely more than ever before, you’ll have to learn to manage your time and efforts in the most effective way. Finally, It’s important to realize that it’s about more than just doing the work; it’s about managing resources. By building a basic, understanding of fields outside of your own, you can learn to allocate and delegate properly. Once again, this is just what I learned from my experiences, yours may bring other challenges and lessons. If they do, be sure to share them!