It is a see-saw of emotions that will take you from exhilarating highs to crushing lows. There are times when the slog is soul-sapping but the moments of breakthroughs bring sunshine to mind, body and soul. No one really talks about the emotional highs and lows of starting, running, growing and managing your own business.
Money, money, money
Starting your own business is a huge leap of faith, a result of a deeply held faith that you Can achieve what you have set out to. But when you research starting your own business or delve into what the secrets to a successful business are, you will see that many articles talk about the money, the finance, the cash flow, the investment and all the other factors associated with money.
Not that this is wrong, far from it, a tight rein on the finances and a firm grip on marketing is critical when starting a business, just as they are critical throughout the life of any business.
Is there an easy route to starting and growing your own business?
It seems not. Take a look at the background story of most business owners and you will see more than a few rocky starts or failed experiments. You will see people working two jobs and running their business.
You will empathise with stories of people being stuck on ‘jobs’ that they don’t want to be but understand that the experiences they are having will be beneficial later on when they have their business up and running.
What is a common factor is the passion. The understanding that creating and running their own business, like a cookery school, is in them. It is a passion for food, creating new and exciting fusions and encouraging others to do the same is the foundation on which the nuts and bolts of a business are built.
It may be a hard journey and it may not be a straight path to running your own business but if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?
Creating a firm foundation
At the root of every successful business is a firm foundation, built on cornerstones of business ethics.
Finance would be in one corner, marketing in the other, passion in another corner and in the other, the focus of the business, its goals and objectives, and the customers who will beat a path to your door.
They may not flock to your business within the first week or even year. You will work hard for every purchase, for every person you convert to customers.
Clare Major, entrepreneur and owner of Seasoned Cookery School feels that it was four years before the business had a firm, even and stable foundation.
Like other businesses, she had created goals she wanted to reach and identified gaps in the market to target. Realising she was spreading her new business too thin, she narrowed the focus to two main targets and from this, the business started to thrive and build.
Now, several years into running Seasoned, she is widening the scope once again, expanding its target market. The sign that the time was right to do so came in a simple, yet powerful form – new AND old customers returning, a sign the marketing mix was right and the brand positioned in the right place.
Sometimes, there is no balance. When you start a business, you live and breath it. You are constantly ‘in’ it. When you are not working on products or services, sending out invoices or creating marketing materials, you are thinking about it, thinking of what happens next, the steps to take.
And even when it is established and you have brought colleagues on board, you are still thinking, juggling, living and breathing it.
But here’s the thing: YOU make the balance. From meeting the demands of the business when they need to be met, to understanding when you need time away to when the business gives way to family (rarely should it be the other way around!).
Many entrepreneurs with successful companies behind them say that the worst thing to do is to start a business on your own but that is how most businesses start life. But like Clare at Seasoned, bringing on directors and staff, including interns, can breathe life into your fledgling business.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying reminds us. And neither will your business. But with dedication, passion and drive, as well as the practical stuff – the money, the marketing, the customers, the brand – your business can be a success.