9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Business. My most-prized function on any computer is the “Undo” button.
No matter the mistakes, missteps and indiscretions I make, I know I have the power to go back in the past and make everything right. I wish starting a business had an Undo button.
I can only imagine how much valuable time, money, stress and emotional turmoil I could have saved myself.
9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Business
I hope the 9 points in this article will save you some regrets.
1) Business ideas are overrated.
I have found that getting a business started is miles ahead of having a brilliant idea that sits squarely in your head. Your business ideas are not valuable until you act on them.
The glory always goes to those entrepreneurs who execute their ideas, and not to those who first had the idea.
Business ideas are overrated, unless they’re backed by passionate execution.
2) There are more options to raise capital beyond bank loans.
One of the biggest obstacles startup entrepreneurs face is access to capital. But I have found that access to capital isn’t always the problem. The real problem is access to information about the options for raising capital.
Beyond banks, startups have a range of options for raising capital including incubators, accelerators, angel investors, business plan competitions, grants from venture capital and investment funds, government programs, and several other options. Learn more about these other options, on this free course.
3) Nobody owes you anything
The entrepreneurs who actually start a business don’t wait for the government to provide all the policies, programs and infrastructure they need to start a business.
The people who actually get started are those who learn to adapt to their environment, and improvise with the limited resources they have. Taking the “nobody owes me anything” mentality puts you in the driver’s seat.
4) It will be hard, so you better love it.
For most businesses, it can take months, or even years, before they turn a profit. What most people don’t realise is that the “waiting period” before the profit comes could be, at once, the most tortuous and rewarding, moments of your journey.
In those periods, it feels like you’re pouring water into a leaking bucket and your initial excitement in your business is thoroughly tested. So, if you’re not going to love it, don’t do it!
5) You have to know when to let go.
According to this study, a whopping 42 percent of startup businesses fail because their products or services “did not serve a market need.”
There is a considerable chance the market may not want your product. Remember, the market is the ultimate judge. And you must learn to humbly accept its verdict. When the market decides against you, you have to learn to let go. Try a new product or a different strategy.
6) Failing is OK.
When we read the profiles of successful entrepreneurs in glossy magazines and blogs, it’s easy to think they never failed at all.
As a result, a growing number of entrepreneurs personalise their failures and are unwilling to share them because they don’t want to be considered “losers”. Note: Your attempt at starting and growing a business failed. You didn’t fail.
Failure is an event in the past, not a permanent status.
7) The doubts and fears are normal
It often looks like successful entrepreneurs are always sure-footed and fearless people. Nothing is farther from the truth. Business is always about risk. And when you’re taking a risk, you’re bound to experience fear, uncertainty and doubt.
8) Only focus on the one thing that matters in your business
In the beginning, some people focus on getting a posh office space in the centre of the city. Some others focus on chasing capital, building a cutting-edge website, stocking up the warehouse, or hiring advertising space on billboards and in newspapers.
But a lot of these things are distractions. There is only one thing that matters: your customer. Before you do anything, ask yourself: How will this get, serve, or keep a customer?
9) The learning never stops.
In the early days of business, most entrepreneurs wear several hats. You’re responsible for hiring, organising your operations, leading the sales efforts, and being the accountant.
The only way to survive this juggling art is to learn. And to keep learning. And even when you’ve reached the dizzying heights of success you dreamed of, the learning still doesn’t stop.
It’s such an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the world.
I hope you enjoy the ride!
Written by John-Paul Iwuoha
2018 is an opportunity to grow your business through deep insights from industry leaders. But how do you access such information?
As part of its new campaign, British Council Enterprise is connecting entrepreneurs with digital skills, industry connections and top-class business resources they need to start and scale their businesses. Enjoy our special British Council Enterprise content here. Stay up to date on new British Council Enterprise projects on the Enterprise Projects page.