Did you get into business to do work or to make money? If it’s the former, trust me on this, you will be happier working for someone else. Let them take all the risk. You enjoy the work and cash those checks every payday. BUT, if you are one of those rare heroes wanting to make more than a living doing something you enjoy, then listen up, because nine guys just like you just failed … and went back to work for someone else.
Maybe they never had a chance. Maybe their business idea was stupid. Maybe their plan was flawed, or maybe the timing or the market was just too brutal. Maybe they ran out of money or customers or time or some combination of all three. Doesn’t matter why they failed. Not to you, anyway. You need to know what it takes to help yourself succeed.
Let me be the first to (honestly) tell you: there’s no magic seed to plant that grows success. But there are a few things you can do to get out of your own way and keep your mistakes from choking your baby to death before it gets a chance to breathe properly.
First, understand that everything … seriously, everything … has a cost. It may not have a price, but it does have a cost. You need to account for that cost. A lot of entrepreneurs pretend they can wing it. Not put in the time. They treat their resources like there’s some endless well somewhere they can just refill when they run out of time, money or goodwill. There’s not. If you fail to understand cost or appreciate value, you will fail. Just as sure as the sun sets in the west.
Speaking of limits, pace yourself. It’s tempting to want too much too fast. But, chances are, if you think about it, you probably know somebody who failed simply because they were too successful too fast. Their business outpaced their ability to perform that business. When that happens, your customer service pays the price. Eventually, enough pissed off customers become someone else’s customers. They may still like you, but they will never again trust you with their money.
Be realistic about your resources, both financial and human. No matter how tempting it is to put someone in a position, don’t do it unless you know they will make your business better. It doesn’t matter if they’re family. It doesn’t matter how sharp he is, how hot she is or how much you want it to work. If they can’t do the job in a way that makes your business more valuable, someone else should have that job.
Learn how to communicate effectively. The gift of gab is not communication. Nor is the ability to shout over people or get them to listen to you. If you don’t understand why that is, learn more and get better. Effective communication saves your business when everything else goes wrong. And it will make it better than you ever thought it could be when you get it right.
Jonah Engler is a financial expert with a background in entrepreneurship.
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