A journey that begins with a wrong step seldom ends at the right destination.
Becoming your own boss has sort of gained a global appeal. These days many people start up their own businesses for virtually any reason. Somehow it doesn’t seem to count anymore what led people to go into business, going into business has suddenly become the new mantra of the 21st century.
Obviously, this global trend is as a result of several factors, some of which are: the emergence of the Internet, the unreliability of job security, the God-like attention given to successful entrepreneurs, the rise of the knowledge worker and so on.
In the end, it’s not the number of businesses that are being started that matters, but the number of businesses that thrive.
So, in this article I will be sharing my thoughts on how NOT to start a business so that in the end, you can have the right mindset needed to start a business.
I welcome you to join me in this exciting journey and as you go through this article I want you to constantly bear this in mind, failure in business is usually as a result of how you start. It is the beginning of a thing that often predicts the end.
As always, I encourage you to share this very useful information with as many entrepreneurs as possible and don’t forget to share your thoughts and opinion in the comment box below. There’s no way you’re going to read this, without having one or two things to say; trust me.
1. Don’t Start a Business for the Sake of MONEY
Top on the list of reasons why people go into business is the strong desire to amass wealth. I have never known of a more ineffective way to think about business than this. As unpopular as it might sound, most business failures stem from this singular fact alone.
Why? Because the moment making money becomes your primary focus as an entrepreneur, delivering value which is the foundation of effective business practice becomes secondary. And when this happens, no matter how great your business is, it automatically goes on a downward spin.
Nothing kills a business faster than putting money first before adding value. So when next you’re thinking about starting up a business, I suggest you lose every possible thought about making money and focus entirely on delivering consistently superior value.
Trust me, I’m talking from experience (of other people), starting your own business for the purpose of making money is a sure fire way of being highly indebted and having cardiac arrest!
2. Don’t Start a Business because You LOST Your job
Closely related to the issue of money is going into business because you lost your job. As you’ve probably realised, this is how many people end up as entrepreneurs. At first glance, there might not be anything wrong with this approach of starting up a business.
But taking a closer look will reveal a vital truth: people who lose their jobs are often driven by fear, and to start a business because you are afraid is absolutely disastrous. The implication is often wide ranging; top on the list is that you will never exercise the due diligence starting a new business entails.
Why? Because the fear of living without a regular income since you no longer have a job will keep haunting you and eventually start making you place unrealistic financial expectations on your new business venture.
Second on the list is that you are emotionally unstable the first few months of losing a job, especially when you didn’t see it coming. The disappointment can be disheartening, the more reason why you shouldn’t go into business with such frame of mind.
Why? Because in the world of business, disappointments are a natural prerequisite for success. This means the more disappointments you get, the closer you are to success.
3. Don’t Start a Business because you Have Money
I know you’re probably startled about this one. You certainly didn’t see it coming. Well, it’s as wrong as starting a business for the sake of making money. How? Here’s the thing most people with money don’t realise, it doesn’t take money alone to make a business work.
Starting and running a business will cost you more than all the money you think you have. There are just too many things a business will demand from you that money can’t even buy, for example; how much does it cost to buy the passion needed to build a SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) business?
Have you ever seen passion being offered for sale? In fact, no university or institute of learning can even teach you passion (not even Harvard or Stanford J). Here’s the truth: having money is good, but it’s not sufficient to make you want to start a business. Starting a business requires gut, passion, ingenuity, creativity, resilience and so many other personal character traits that all the money in the world is insufficient to buy!
4. Don’t Start a Business because You Want TIME Freedom
The thought of not having to wake up early and rush off to work can be very enticing to would-be entrepreneurs. But take it from me, I’ve been in the game now for several years; the fact that you didn’t wake up early and rush off to work doesn’t mean you are not at work. Being an entrepreneur means working all of the time even in your sleep. Your fantasy of time freedom will naturally go sore once you choose to become your own boss.
How do I mean? You see, it’s not that you wouldn’t have more time to yourself when you’re an entrepreneur; you certainly would. But the irony of it all is this: that time freedom is for you to do some creative work and not for you to be idle and indulge yourself in some unproductive activity.
You left your job to have enough time to do what you really care about in life, that’s all the definition of time freedom you’ll ever get – having enough time to make a SIGNIFICANT contribution with your life to the world. True entrepreneurs hardly stay idle indulging in pleasurable activities just because they have time freedom.
They are always in the creative process, picking up clues here and there of how they can make the world a better place by utilising their time, money and life for something worthwhile.
5. Don’t Start a Business because OTHERS are doing it
Anything that is popular has a way of being highly contagious. People just literally jump at it without any logical explanation. Believe it or not, this is how so many people ended up in the world of business. Since everyone they know is quitting their 9-to-5 jobs to go start their own thing, why shouldn’t they do the same?
The downside of going with the bandwagon is that you’ll lack the staying power critical to survival in the world of business. At first, the thought of being your own boss can be very enticing, but sooner or later you’ll realise it’s not a bed of roses. And when this reality sets in, you’re the only one who would be left alone to figure out a way of making it through the stormy days.
So start a business because it’s what your soul desires and not what the society or your peers desire for you. Starting your own business is not about boosting your personal ego or winning a popularity contest, it’s a personal decision born out of an internal conviction!
6. Don’t Start a Business because You HATE Working for Others
Now here comes the tricky one; starting a business because you hate working for others. After wanting to make money, this is another popular reason people give for going into business. Listen, as popular as it may seem, the truth is 99% of popular things are either totally wrong or mere misconceptions. That you hate working for others is no guarantee that you will succeed or enjoy working for yourself.
In fact, there’s more work to do working for yourself than you ever thought you did working for others. So if you hate working for others, you might just as well hate working for yourself. What it turns out to be sincerely is this: you simply don’t like work in general and this is why starting your own business is the last thing you should ever think of doing.
Why? Because business is the domain of unlimited work; there are no working hours like your regular 9-to-5 job. Welcome to the 24/7/365 days a year working schedule!
7. Don’t Start a Business just LIKE Everybody Else (Differentiate or Die)
In my field of business development, I have seen so many people go into business just because they saw somebody else succeeding in it. This is a higher form of going into business because others are doing (point #5 above). You observe a business and simply go make a clone of such business. So what do we get? The same kind of business but with different brand names.
I don’t get it; why would any right thinking person choose to be a duplicate of another when it’s absolutely possible to excel being an original? As a matter of fact, you have higher chances of succeeding going into business as an innovator than as a duplicator.
The business terrain is already overcrowded, filled with countless number of companies doing almost the same thing you have in mind to do. Unlike in the past before the advent of the internet where you had only local or national competitors, such is no longer the case in this age of globalisation. Now your competitors are all over the world and just one click away from your local or national target market.
So why would you want to build a business just like your neighbour? Here’s the deal; if your business doesn’t stand for something SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) there’s no need repeating what others have already done and giving it another name.
This means, if there’s nothing positively unusual about your business, don’t bother going into business to offer the same old milk but now in a new brand skin or container. Doing this is the fastest route to extinction. In other words, differentiate or die!
8. Don’t Start a Business without SUFFICIENT Planning
Business is a highly complex activity and therefore requires adequate planning. It’s been statistically proven that inadequate planning is top among the reasons most businesses fail. I’m sure you already know that by now (that’s why it’s the second to the last point.
Why then did I include it in the list? Because most times, the problem is not about what we don’t know but more of what we do know but never put to use or practice. There’s a phrase that best captures the essence of planning and it goes like this: “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”. And a key element of planning is having a long term perspective of things or as it is popularly called, seeing the big picture, which intentionally, happens to be the subject matter of the next point to which we now turn.
9. Don’t Start a Business that cannot OUTLIVE you
One of the underlying principles of the accounting profession is called; “going concern” which means that a business must be in perpetuity. That is, a business is meant to exist as far as there’s still a need to be met. It’s just basic human nature; I mean who wants to raise a child only to watch the child die before their eyes? In the same regard, you should never start a business that has a short lifespan.
Starting a business from a short term or temporary viewpoint, as far as I’m concerned is the definition of selfishness. Why build something temporary when you have the potential to create something eternal? The joy of any creator is to see his/her creation rise above their wildest dream and outlive the very existence of the creator.
So here’s the ultimate question for you: Does your business have the capacity to outlive you
Will your business still be in existence long after you’ve gone?
Never start or go into a new business without asking and providing answer to either of these questions.
What then is the RIGHT way to start a business?
It’s in the bid to help you answer these two questions above that I now offer the only right way to start a business.
Start a business because you have something SIGNIFICANT (unique & useful) to contribute to the benefit of the human race!
Because a business is a tool that entrepreneurs create in order to make a SIGNIFICANT (unique and useful) contribution to the world by addressing a particular problem plaguing the human race.
Tito Philips is a people, business and life developer. He coaches and consults on how people and businesses can become significant by being different and making a difference. He is the Chief Community Leader at Naijapreneur, a tribe of unusual entrepreneurs who are raising the bar of entrepreneurship.