Your new business is a chance to build something truly unique. This could be because it’s directed by your personal values, perhaps it’ll be informed by a gap in the market you’ve been able to identify before anyone else. Not to mention that, unlike being employed by another company, you get to prioritize the ideas you think are important in business. It can be an enriching path.
Yet, for all its benefits, creating a new business is certainly not a walk in the park. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of new businesses fail within five years of operations, with 20% dropping in the first year. There are challenges ahead, and if you’re new to being an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to know how to overcome these.
This is why it’s important to gain a little insight into how best to tackle challenges. We’ll dive into a few practices and protocols to help confidently move forward.
Understand the Hurdles
There will certainly be unexpected issues that can blindside you. However, by taking time to research and understand the potential hurdles you’ll face, you can better prepare for these. This also tends to mean you’re not struggling to find solutions to issues when the unforeseen arises.
If possible, you should begin this process before starting your business. Make understanding the challenges a key aspect of your planning stages so you can incorporate your solutions into your operations from the outset. You can start in a very general sense. Look at the journeys of other businesses in your industry. Read news articles and blog posts, check out some interviews with other entrepreneurs in your field. Establish where the primary areas of struggle have been, and even what causes a lot of enterprises to fail early on.
Alongside your online research, you should also make a point of talking to other entrepreneurs. This can be particularly important if you’re opening a physical location in your community. Brick and mortar stores face some distinct challenges, not the least of which is the ability to stay relevant in a landscape where consumers are increasingly favoring digital businesses. Take time to understand what elements, such as maintaining a clean and presentable property or hosting in-store events, can really make a difference in your neighborhood. Establish what loyalty programs people find engaging. Get out there and start forging positive relationships with other entrepreneurs. They can not only provide you with these insights, but you can build mutually beneficial partnerships that can help you for years to come.
In many cases, the issues you face will require assistance to overcome effectively. This is difficult because generally as a new entrepreneur, your capital will be tightly stretched. As such, it’s important to start looking for accessible and practical resources. Focus on both those to help you now and some that may be useful in the future.
There are certainly some standard resources that, though they’re not strictly essential, tend to make starting a new business a little easier in the modern market. Taking time to pursue a business degree on the road to starting your company can be a useful step. This not only gives you commercial knowledge, it also opens you up to other resources like industry connections and guidance on pursuing investment. Some of the most effective resources here won’t require money but take some time. Building your social media and internet presence means you’re developing your own marketing resource, which can connect you to consumers and develop your brand in the long term.
Look outside of your immediate company, too. There are often programs at the state and federal levels designed to support new business owners through the challenges of their first years. Some of these will be grants to fund operations. You can often qualify if your business serves a specific unaddressed community need or is aimed at improving environmental sustainability or clean energy. These types of programs may take some research and have in-depth application processes. But it can be worthwhile putting in the time and energy to secure resources to help you weather the difficult periods.
Manage Your Stress
Planning and resources are vital in overcoming challenges, But one aspect too often overlooked by business owners is mental wellbeing. You can’t hope to face and overcome obstacles effectively if you are not also paying close attention to how stress is impacting you. This is why it is so important you put in place measures and practices that help you maintain a healthy mindset.
This starts with prioritizing your work-life balance. Too many entrepreneurs think that to succeed they need to make their work the be-all and end-all of their existence. Yet, this doesn’t leave space for you to spend time with your family, maintain relationships with your friends. Yes, your work might be your passion, but you also need other activities you enjoy so you can unwind. Remember, studies have shown having a romantic partner in your life positively impacts how you cope with stress in other areas. Your friends provide you with much-needed support during tough times. Your personal activities give you a way to separate from the pressure of work and focus your energy in enjoyable ways.
You can also minimize your stress by managing your expectations. Don’t browbeat yourself every time you feel you haven’t been as productive as you’d like. Avoid falling into the trap of comparing yourself to successful startups, or trying to emulate their path. While there will be similar challenges you can learn from, every journey is different. Be cognizant of the areas for improvement, but also make sure you take time to celebrate your gains. This will keep you in a much more healthy frame of mind when those issues arise.
Beginning any new business is a lesson in how you deal with challenges. Often, the best approach is to get ahead through careful research and planning. It can feel like you’re alone, but make sure you take time to review resources to help now and in the future. Above all else, maintain your mental wellbeing — you’ll have a more successful and enjoyable experience if you do.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor