Last month, we shared insights on finding out if entrepreneurship is right for you and how to get started - read part 1 here. In part 2 of this article we discuss specific challenges and key areas for entrepreneurs to focus on - including the importance of a solid business plan. Keep reading to find out common and not so common challenges self-employed people face, developing your idea and why a business plan is so important.
When working with entrepreneurs (business owners, intrapreneurs, self-employed, etc.), we often find there are some commonalities in personality that both lead to their success but can also be a challenge. Two of these are risk taking and novelty seeking. For many people, risk taking is something to be avoided - better to play it safe and secure than try something that may not turn out or could end up poorly. Knowing the routine is comfortable and low stress - starting a new business with unknown outcomes is out of their comfort zone. For the typical entrepreneur, risks don’t seem, well, so risky. There is even a surge of energy and excitement that comes with taking a risk. The same trait that led them to venture out into the unknown and take the risk (and reward), can also be overused. This can lead to poor due diligence and taking on liabilities that can’t be paid back in time. With novelty seeking, you like new things, will try something different and seek out the latest innovations. These work well for many entrepreneurs as they can see new opportunities and quite willingly wear the many hats of a small business owner. However, this can lead to unfinished projects, incomplete follow-up and constant exploration without extracting the value of that new idea.
If these sound like you, consider balancing this with a strong advisory board, a more risk averse partner and/or a knowledgeable consultant who provides guidance on those “boring details” like ensuring steady cashflow and designing repeatable processes. You’ll also want to understand what you are good at and passionate about then find a way to automate, delegate (hire staff, outsource, or engage a consultant) or reasonably delay the rest.
Another key consideration is, “what business should you start?”. Seems simple right? But many entrepreneurs have several false starts where they can lose time and money. In Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, he advocates quick cycles of Build-Measure-Learn. Run small cheap experiments to see if your idea or business will have paying customers. How do you know what experiments to run? Answer the questions of what you have passion for and what you can be the best at - remember you’ll be executing this idea. Combine this with mega trends, fringe ideas, your customers’ job-to-be-done, and businesses that will be successful in several scenarios.
We also strongly recommend talking to people, lots of people. Build your network - people in your industry is an ok place to start but stretch yourself to meet people outside of your typical network. They could provide you insights to those trends and fringe ideas but also could be referrals, vendors, strategic partners, mentors and even an accountability group (sometimes called Success Circles or Mastermind groups). In the quarterly BrightGo News (sign-up here), we share a list of upcoming events of interest for those immigrant entrepreneurs and international companies starting their businesses in Canada - a good place to start your networking!
One of the best ways to get a clear understanding of your business, now and into the future, is thinking through and writing a business plan. A sound business plan serves a few purposes. A business plan includes the key areas of marketing, sales, operations and finance. It typically covers the first operating year in detail then 2-10 more years depending on the nature of the business and industry. These plans will include contingencies for both slow starts and rapid growth - both of which can be a challenge. It answers the key question of how you will spend and (more importantly!) make money. Additionally, a business plan supports the risk-taking and novelty seeking traits of entrepreneurs. It allows them to get all those ideas out of their head, evaluate and prioritize them, and then decide which they will do, delegate or delay. Then once you have a plan, you follow the plan - helping to keep even the most novelty seeking on track.
Need helping writing your business plan? Seeking a consultant to cover the aspects of starting and growing your business that aren’t your speciality? Contact BrightGo Solutions, our team of business experts will work with you to support you in your new Canadian venture.