It almost goes without saying that building a business is one of the most difficult things you can do. It takes your time, your money, your energy – it takes pretty much everything you have. And more. Yet, people keep doing it.
It actually isn’t difficult to start a business, but it’s very tough to make it successful. Here’s why:
- You are alone
- You need money
- You need a plan
- You need to be a sales person
- But it’s worth it
Let’s break down these four problems – and some solutions – then look at why all the pain might just be worth it.
You are alone
This is a serious issue. One study found self-reported mental health concerns present in 72% of entrepreneurs. Anyone who has started a business knows that feeling of it taking over their life. The question is whether you have a support structure around you, and know who to talk to (and when to talk to them) if you’re struggling.
Because everyone struggles at some point, and just because you’re finding it tough going it alone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not ready for your own business.
There are practical issues as well as emotional ones – when you work for yourself you become your own (worst) boss. Vacations go out of the window, weekends are eaten into by work, evenings are lost. That important family time, time to re-energise, disappears when everything is down to you.
Starting your company with a co-founder can often be a solution to this, although choosing who you work with is of course one of the most important decisions you’re likely to make. And if your business grows you may find bringing in other team members, and the subsequent letting go of some control is actually quite difficult – even when the last months/years you’ve been dreaming of having some help.
It’s also difficult to figure out your actual operational costs when you’re working from home. Ensuring you create clean divisions in your money between home and work is key in order to see how your business is doing. Talking of cash…
You need money
Everyone needs money. There is sometimes a perception that you can start your own business with little or no money. It’s not true. You may not need millions, but you need something. At least enough to sustain you, your family and your business during the time you have given yourself to make a go of your business – one year, two years, whatever you decide.
Or you may keep working on the side while launching your business – not easy, but a good way to keep money coming in until you’re ready to make the jump.
The most conventional way to get funding is a bank loan. Although not impossible, getting a business loan for a startup from a bank in the UAE can be challenging. It often requires considerable paperwork along with a strong business plan and excellent credit history.
Then there is crowdfunding – raising money from a large number of investors through one of the many licensed online platforms. To this end, in order to boost startup growth in the UAE, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has introduced a regulatory framework to help startups raise funds through crowdfunding.
There is also of course venture capital and angel investors – someone in a strong financial position who can help as a mentor and a financier.
And before all of that is funding it yourself, from friends, family, savings and so on.
You need a plan
It’s a pretty standard requirement – the problem is that after spending the time and effort to research and write your business plan, it often just gets left to one side. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be agile, but a well thought out plan is critical when you start out.
Essentially, this is your roadmap – and as we all know, when you get lost (which is common) that map becomes indispensable. Referring back to it also means you can look at what you had predicted and where you are reality. It’s the core of how you present to investors – how you start to tell your all-important company story.
Make sure you include:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Breakdown of your products and services
- Strong market analysis
- Overview of your strategy and how you plan to implement it
- Financial projections
- Management team and organisation structure
If done right, the business plan will help you make better decisions as well as taking a step back and really looking at the viability of your idea.
You need to be a sales person
If you’re not a natural at sales, this is going to be one of the toughest parts of going it alone.
Suddenly you need to sell your idea – often to people who are not particularly interested in hearing from you. Yes, it can make you anxious, but it’s something you can get better at over time – taking courses, practising, it all helps.
Because when you start out, it’s not like your future customers are all just waiting for you. It takes time and effort to find them and gain their trust. It also takes creative thinking to generate new business – often taking you way out of your comfort zone. Whether this is networking events, or cold calls, the more you do it, the better you get. You might even learn to enjoy it.
Researching sales psychology will also help you think more clearly about your offering and your potential customers – and how they are linked.
But it’s worth it
Some of the difficult parts of being an entrepreneur can also have upsides. Yes, we hear about working late, working weekends, and so on. But we also hear about incredible flexibility in how and where you work, being able to fit work around kids, around events. Some even find their work/life balance dramatically improves.
You’re also able to build the company culture from the ground up. Everyone has worked at some point for a company where they felt they didn’t fit in. This is your chance to create the company ‘feel’ that you have always been looking for, both in terms of how you do business, who you recruit, how you train, and how the company functions on a daily basis. Your priorities become the culture and that’s reflected in who you choose to work with, and who you choose to do business with as well.
In the end, it’s the satisfaction, the ‘I built this’ feel from starting your business that keeps drawing people in. And if you set up in a thriving location like Dubai, and work with a company formation specialist who takes away all the stress and hassle of the setup process, you could be underway sooner than you think.