It is possible that you are one of those business owners who believe that your experience as an entrepreneur is different from those of other people who are striving to start, grow or scale their businesses. This kind of thinking is not exactly according to the facts. The truth is that ‘entrepreneuring’ is far more predictable than many business owners will admit. Even more true is that there are some common problems and frustrations that you encounter along the way, just as there are certain proven ways of overcoming them.
Now, let’s get started. Where are you in your climb on the entrepreneurial ladder? Where are you heading? What stands between where you are and where you want to be? What do you need to do to step onto the next rung of the ladder and inch your way toward arriving at your destination?
It will be instructive for you to know where you are, at this point in time, in your efforts as a business owner. The knowledge from this self-examination can be leveraged to strategically plan your way towards the future that you desire.
The Start-Up Entrepreneur: In this phase of your enterprise, you are just beginning to build your business. You are tinkering with the idea for your business. You are pursuing your vision of what the business will achieve. Your business idea is new in the market.
At this point, you have a few things going for you. You have spotted a gap and a need to be fulfilled in the market. You have a business model that will fulfil this need at a profit. You have skills that can be deployed to turn your idea into money. You are passionate about what you are doing. You are making little or no money.
In your excitement, you are itching to launch your business. You envision that once you get the business up and running, you will make a lot of money, live a less stressful life, and have plenty of time for yourself, family and friends.
However, what is more likely to happen, once you get started, is that your excitement and optimism will give way to the reality of starting a business. You will work longer hours, have more stress, and less money. You will now discover the new you, the sole entrepreneur.
The Solo Entrepreneur: You are on your own. You are by yourself. You are trying to make your way through the start-up stage. You are struggling. Struggling to get the product or service right. Struggling to get revenues flowing into the business.
You are a self-employed individual. You don’t have a team. You are trading your time for money. You are trying to keep the business running. You are finding ways to grow your operations, grow your revenue and build a team. You are trying to find a niche for your business in the marketplace.
In trying to survive and thrive, you will be looking for ways to move away from solo entrepreneurship. Realising you will not achieve much by continuing as a one-man band, you will come to terms with the need to apply the twin business strategies of Specialisation and Division of Labour. You must attract a few good people to complement you. You need these new hands for the varied and specialised skills they will bring into the business, to perform the different functions and activities needed to deliver the products or services of the business.
Now that you have some helping hands, you can revive your vision of working shorter hours and making a more money. And, more importantly, you must start thinking how to grow the business.
The Business Owner: At this stage of your entrepreneurship, your business is able to pay its bills and sustain itself, even if it is not highly profitable or making a lot of money.
It now has a small and dynamic team that consistently and effectively delivers the company’s products or services, at a profit level that leaves something to continuously re-invest in the business. The business now has a life of its own and is growing and assuming the semblance of a going concern. You have more time and more money. You are living a life distinct from when you were in paid employment, starting-up the business or operating as a solo entrepreneur.
You are now truly running the business, instead of the business running you. The business now has a structure, and its performance is measured at regular intervals. The business is moving from a small to a medium enterprise, and showing a readiness to scale.
It is now for you to build your business more strategically and more efficiently, and decide what you really want your business to be: A business that allows you to do what you love. A business that you can grow and decide if and when to exit.