Without a doubt, one of the best years of business is that very first year. You’ve done it. You've taken the leap, and launched a start-up! You have an immense sense of pride, and you certainly should. You’ve left behind “normalcy”, and you’re doing it. You’re really doing it!
In some ways, you feel like a modern day cowboy. You’re not one of the herd anymore. Your friends and family ask you “how business is going” every time you see them. Your life is now dedicated to something more meaningful to you, and everyone wants to know the details. You’re asked questions about every facet about your company, how it works, how many clients you have, where your office is, what your profit margins are. And guess who knows all the answers?
During that start-up season, there are a million “firsts”: when you get your name on a door, when you got your new business cards (complete with a title you gave yourself), a phone line, a website, a real live accountant! You grow like wildfire, mostly because it’s so easy to double your number of sales or clients when you’re starting from zero.
You feel like you might have found the way to “really live”. Why isn’t everyone doing this?
Then year two comes. Much of the newness has worn off. You’ve got more work than you can handle, but less than enough money to hire help to wade through it. Nobody asks you how business is anymore. Your rent went up. Your contract was cancelled at the last minute. Your phone line is more expensive. Your client didn’t pay… again. You have to order more stupid business cards. You have no idea what your profit margins are anymore, so you hope people don’t ask. What are you anyways, an MBA student?
One third of businesses fail within the first two years, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Sometimes it’s unavoidable circumstances; family illness and the need to “go back to work” (because what, you were on vacation?), or a change in the economy that directly influenced your business’s ability to stay afloat. But should your business avoid the many pitfalls of life and the economy, you still may be longing to lock up for good.
The second year is really the “toddler” stage of business. You’re learning, you’ve grown a lot, but you’re still not totally stable. Your tenacity has been beaten out of you in so many ways, and you’ve began to let the thought slip in “I wish I had never done this”. You feel like there’s no end in sight, and just as soon as one issue starts working out, something else seems to cave in. It’s tough, to say the very least.
The beauty of this year is that (much like raising a toddler) if you can endure it, there’s something really great ahead. The longer you stay in business, the more likely you are to “last”. The longer you last, the more likely you are to become an expert in your field. After years of your business, your likely to have much of the difficulty figured out, and you are better equipped to navigate new challenges, that just might not seem to carry the same weight they once did.
What else can help? Having a group of people in your corner to cheer you on when the going gets tough. If you’re considering going into business, try to get a group of supportive friends and family on board that will listen and understand your best and worst seasons. Even better, hang out with people who are in the exact same boat, and those that can speak from experience when you need sound advice!
Business may be an up and down experience, but if you don’t try, you may live forever with the regret and wonder “what if”?
So if you’ve decided to become a modern day cowboy and start your own small business, consider getting connected to a group of people who get it…. really get it! We’re excited for your adventure, and hope to hear from you soon!