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I'm interested in majoring in Entrepreneurial Business in hopes of openings business and I'm wondering what is the hardest thing about starting a small business?

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My sister and I would like to someday have a home decor and lettering business. I am interested in what some of the struggles are for small business owners. #business #marketing #design #calligraphy

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Edward’s Answer

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The hardest part is becoming expert in several different topics -- marketing, pricing, accounting, insurance, law -- to answer all the questions that inevitably will come up. Seek the guidance of experts in each topic whenever you can. You'll be surprised how many of them will be glad to advise you, but you'll have to spend many hours learning...

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Hagen’s Answer

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Hello Aileen,

Having run a small business for many years, in my experience, keeping a firm grip on the reins of growth turned out to be much more challenging than I expected. The world of business seem to favor a gallop over a trot. Let's use a restaurant example.

From one point of view, having a restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seems pretty compelling because you have to pay for the facility whether you use it or not. Maximize, maximize. However, most people can't work all three shifts, so that suggests you hire managers and shifts of workers.

Hiring workers causes a dramatic shift in your role - you go from being a practitioner to a manager. Most people don't go into business to become a manager, they want to be a designer, carpenter, doctor or chef. However, when you shift to relying on other practitioner (workers) to perform create your product or service, the success of your business turns on your ability to orchestrate their work. You may or may not be good at that or enjoy managing. So first thought; think hard about what's motivating you to run your own business. How you want to spend your day? If it's because you love design and you want to spend your day designing. then you would want to avoid hiring people until it becomes completely unavoidable.

Second, starting a business is actually very risky and there are inevitable business cycles which cause your income to fluctuate. Therefore, staying as lean as possible is key in the early years. It's very tempting to think you need the trappings of a successful business (e.g. an office, receptionist, company car, incorporation ...) in order to become a successful business. That's very expensive and that overhead poses the greatest risk to your ability to survive the first recession. In the beginning, staying as close to zero overhead as possible will help you stay afloat the first 5 years while you learn what it means to run a small business.

In reality the quality of your work is your best business card and marketing. If you do your work yourself and the quality of that work is excellent, then people will want to work with you even if you work out of a bedroom in your house. As a hands on entrepreneur, there's a competitive advantage to being a small business without employees. You can make decisions on the spot and on the fly in a way that makes your service much more agile than a larger company can offer. Second, point; don't get caught up in your image of what a successful business looks like and go into debt or over commit financially until you have (literally) years of experience under your belt.

Finally, business is all about relationships. When I ran my business it never occurred to me to take my clients out to lunch or dinner or to develop a more personal relationship with them. In my current corporate role we do that all the time. Taking the time to get to know your clients and their business will allow you to better tailor your services to their needs and expand your offerings to include other gaps in their planned project.

I hope that helps.

Best,

Hagen
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