Running a small business is easy if you have a good commercial idea and blueprint in mind – along with the actionable intent to work towards its material realization.
Running a small business is easy. Provided that you have a good idea which you can effectively monetize. Along with the will to do all the work it takes to make it real. It is in this second phase of the operation that most people give up. Personally, I have a soft spot for entrepreneurs who fail. Because I’ve been there, done that. From being deeply inspired by a movie I watched on my Spectrum TV Packages. To failing miserably to get venture capitalist support for my startup plan. I understand. And I empathize.
In this blog, I’ve recounted some of the things you need to keep sight of – when managing a small business. But I haven’t given any direct explanations. Only the takeaways from my personal experience (which should be sufficient for the discerning reader to draw insights from).
Learning from My Mistakes
Traveling the ‘whole 9 yards’ did come with its advantages. Because the second time I started to work on another business idea, I succeeded. And when people today question me about my achievement, I am usually the last to credit luck in any way.
When you’re forced to endure long sleepless nights and hunger pangs for your dream, the concept of ‘chance’ fizzles out of your mind pretty fast. It gets replaced by cold-hearted realism. As the phenomenon envelops everything in this world.
On my second attempt, I knew what not to do.
I understood the importance of not relying too much on the opinions or commitments of others. My initial startup experience taught me that even longstanding friends can disappear. When the going gets tough. And especially when there is some kind of financial compromise or request on the line. Because people, no matter how much they may claim otherwise, have vested interests.
They may say they believe in you, and speak sweet ‘niceties’ to your face. But in reality, all they really care about is making money. Getting ahead at your expense. And not parting with the ‘green stuff’ in the least. Even though some monetary risk is necessary for business growth.
The Importance of a Contingency Plan
Another important lesson I learned had to do with the ‘inconsistency’ of things.
If you’re wise, you should know better than to trust in situations on which there is no earthly control. I’m specifically referring to unpredictable, natural occurrences that can wreak havoc on your business plans. Things like stormy weather outbreaks, power outages, earthquakes, and man-made political crises.
Since my first business was completely based around the seasonal cotton crop, I can speak from personal experience. Because when everything was said and done, a bitter outbreak of flash flooding ruined the crop fields. And as a result, the cloth mill which was supposed to receive the material from my startup, went bankrupt. This company filed a ‘misinformation’ lawsuit against my emerging brand.
Long story short, my company ended up receiving the shorter end of the stick. Which meant that I had to close shop – even before it had properly started to take off.
And all because I didn’t have a ‘what if’ contingency plan in place.
In my second (current) business venture, I make sure to always keep a back-up. Which today is mainly a huge cash reserve that I keep adding to from our monthly profits.
My ‘insurance for a rainy day’.
A Dedicated, Professional and Talented Team is Key
I can never stress, or overstate, this point enough. Because in my now 10 years long business experience, I know (intimately) that good employees can make your brand. While a team of unprofessional and contractually-suspect workers can break your company apart.
And it doesn’t matter whether you have a small or a large organizational setup.
Good workers are worth their weight in gold.
Because they remain loyal to your cause when things (for whatever reason) go south. And they help to secure huge sums of revenue in record times.
But in all honesty, this requires turning them into business stakeholders. This way, they intrinsically know that their personal success depends upon the company’s prosperity. With the vice versa case also being true, and something that they then naturally guard against.
Managing Conflicts Fast
Managing conflicts and in as little a time as possible is also key to startup success.
Ideally, issues like ‘internal team dissent’ and ‘managerial lapse’ should disappear as soon as they’re noticed. Otherwise, the problem keeps on festering on its own. And before you know it, it turns into an unmanageable beast which eventually leads to someone getting sacked. Or the entire company suffering from some kind of loss. Either in earnings or in workplace prestige.
A few years ago, I attended an ‘ISPs of America’ conclave in Wyoming. And the speakers there were debating on the issue of raised Cox Internet Prices. The event, as you can imagine, was pretty boring. But it soon became breath-taking when one of the hosts started complaining loudly about team unprofessionalism. This was when his boss, unamused by the spectacle, fired him on the spot. The incident later made its way on national TV…