All businesses grow from an idea. Like a seed, they need nurturing, the right conditions, and persistence to blossom.
A lot can happen in the early stages that make us lose sight of the passion that drove us to act on the idea in the first place.
It takes courage to stay the course, and the process can become overwhelming, even exhausting.
Here are my top ten challenges of starting out in business. (Note: this is a 2-part blog with the top five coming next week!)
I’m sure you can probably think of a few more.
Note that these aren’t in any particular order of priority – everyone’s situations are different, so what seems like the biggest challenge to one won’t be the same for others.
10: Information online isn’t clear – or it’s based in the USA.
For Canadian entrepreneurs, finding out the do’s and don’t’s can be a daunting task.
How many times have you found a great article and read halfway through before noticing words like “IRS” and “States”?
Or learned about amazing business conferences, events, courses that you realized were across the border or overseas?
Sometimes, the information is totally ambiguous to the point you hesitate to even trust it.
Others, you find a valuable source, but they never respond to your questions or comments.
These things can lead to inaction, self-doubt, and lost productivity.
9: Learning your CRA obligations.
Government websites exist to convey information.
Even the back of a cereal box is more entertaining to read.
You can’t afford not to know what the CRA expects, either – because you’re liable when things go wrong.
Every page contains references to other terms or rules with which you’re unfamiliar, forcing you to sift through countless pages of information.
Even when you think you’ve done your research, there may be things you missed.
Two very common examples from my business bookkeeping clients:
They weren’t aware that GST reconciled annually requires quarterly installment payments.
They were surprised to receive penalties on their payroll payments, because they weren’t aware payments must be made by the fifteenth of each month.
It can leave you wishing there was some easier way to cut through it all and just get the information you need.
8: Brilliant idea, poor marketing skills.
In the rarest of cases, the stars align.
Entrepreneur is in the right place at the right time, sharing their idea, and everything falls into place.
They barely had to do anything, it seems.
The world is full of those mega-successful entrepreneurs who made it look easy.
The reality for the rest of us: having a good idea doesn’t make you the chosen one.
Destiny isn’t going to deliver success your way in a gilded basket.
You may have heard the phrase, “an idea so good it practically sells itself.”
I’m here to tell you, it really doesn’t.
Nothing will come from your great idea if you can’t sell it.
Only you possess the innate ability to see your widget the way you do.
It’s something that can’t be conveyed without the right words or advertising.
Yet there are some who explain their concept, watch you scratch your head, and ask, “How can you not be blinded by the brilliance of this right now?”
Learning to market can be one of the most challenging aspects of business because it involves getting out of your head and into those of the people receptive to your product.
7: Lack of experienced help and staff.
Great ideas don’t come with Startup money.
That’s one of many reasons entrepreneurs often hire family or friends or rely on them for advice and support.
Another reason might be a sense of obligation.
This presents a world of potential conflicts and frustration.
A lack of skills on their part may pile more work on your plate; disputes about wages; you may hesitate to exercise your authority when needed, and they may have expectations of leniency; they may not feel the same level of commitment as an outside employee.
And they may not be qualified to give you the advice you need, in terms of a support system.
Recruiting employees may be more time consuming, even less cost effective, but can be worth more in the long run.
6: Taking on too much or underestimating the amount of work/time required.
This ties in to all the points discussed so far, and those that follow.
It happens in every aspect of business, with the big things and the small. Expect the unexpected.
That task you thought would take ten minutes at best? Two hours later, you’re almost done.
Employee called in sick, leaving work unfinished that must go out today. Day three of learning that new software.
That meeting with an important client ran waaay over time.
And the time it takes to train staff or explain a mistake so they can redo a project, you may find yourself thinking it would be faster to just do it yourself.
Many entrepreneurs transition from shift work, even dead-end jobs, with very specific, sometimes repetitive tasks.
They’ve worked for an employer who had a pretty good handle on how much could get done in a day, how many man-hours were required in a week to keep the ship afloat.
When you’re starting out in business, it can be like learning to crawl before you walk again, even when you used to sprint through your old workload.
Come back next week for part two of this list!
In the meantime, why not check out our Facebook group. We’re always taking questions.
Have a successful and productive week, entrepreneurs!