Starting a small business can be scary. Operating a small business can be even scarier. I have seen the fear in the eyes of people as they make decisions throughout the entrepreneurial process. After more than thirteen years of counseling and training, I have developed a skill set to help people discuss the scariest parts of business development, see through the anxiety and stress and make good decisions.
Some people find themselves haunted by an idea or business that they would like to start but just can’t seem to get it going. Others are frightened by the thought of having to pledge collateral (their homes for instance) to guarantee loans for their business venture. And it is commonly known the devil is in the details of a business plan.
Being a huge fan of Halloween, I think it is time to break down some of the scariest things about starting and operating a small business. Here are some of the fears of entrepreneurship and a killer strategy or two to deal with them.
• Fear of failure: Nobody likes to fail or to think about failure. But unfortunately it is something that we all do on a regular basis. It has been said fear can hold you prisoner. I have seen people afraid to take chances or make any movement due to the fear of failure. By identifying what is causing your fear, you have a much better chance to control your fear. In developing your idea, plan for what can go wrong or what you are afraid will happen. If you are aware of these terrible things when you develop your plan, should they occur, you have a much better chance for success.
• Afraid to take risks: People are naturally adverse to risk. If something seems risky or potentially harmful, our instinct is to turn and run the other way. By the way, if you find yourself in a horror movie, that is a great instinct to follow. I never did understand why people in those movies always stayed around. Risk in business is scary but usually can be dealt with through analysis. Calculated risk is something to consider. There is usually no reward without some form of risk. Try to reduce your risk or get comfortable with the level of risk you may experience.
• Ferocious competitors: Sometimes competitors or the idea of having to compete with others can be scary. A small retailer going up against a giant retailer or even a new product or service competing with a well-established one could be a real concern. Don’t be afraid to measure up what you are doing and what your competitors are doing. Don’t make yourself crazy in the process. Do your best to identify competitor’s strengths and weakness and do the same for your offerings. This can help to make you a stronger business owner.
• Dead business location: Remember when choosing your business location, it is vitally important to know exactly who your customers are and where they are coming from. Many people get hung up on a certain building or retail space and don’t stop to consider the ease or the difficulty of people getting to their location. Consider things like road traffic patterns, the best side of the road to be located on and the time (and energy) it takes for clients to reach you.
• Skeleton crew: Having the right mix of people working for you is important to succeeding in business. The reality is most small businesses have a small number of people who work for them. In other words, the perception is most businesses utilize a skeleton crew more often than not. While job creation is important, that can only be accomplished if the business is profitable and growing. One way to overcome the skeleton crew perception is to create work schedules that can overlap so there is more depth to your staff during busier times.
• Fear of the unknown: This may very well be the scariest of anything that frightens small business owners. Both startups and existing businesses should be mindful of what might be hiding around the corner. Whether it is a change in regulations or industry practices or a product or service you offer that is no longer popular or, even worse, something no longer needed, the fear of the unknown is something that needs to be considered and addressed. By keeping in tune with your industry and following existing and potentially new regulations you can stay ahead of changes. Having solid and honest relationships with key clients or loyal customers helps you keep your finger on the pulse of your market. Keep in touch with both current and emerging trends by immersing yourself in things such as trade magazines, relevant internet sites, social media and business groups.
While small business can be scary, when Business Currents breaks down the fears you face, there should be enough tricks to insure plenty of treats for you, your business, your employees and your customers. Happy Halloween!