It has been exactly five years since I started my own business. I remember my first day in the office. I was on fire, full of energy, ready to change the world and make some serious money. Five years later, I am overworked, over-stressed and honestly too tired to get out of bed, let alone think of ways how to make some serious money.
So what went wrong?
You want to know the truth? I went wrong and it took me "only" 5 years to realize this.
Sitting in my office, looking at all of our achievements and failures, I realized that my excitement about the business, my hard work, my drive, my dreams, my business connections and all my sacrifices were not enough to build a stable and profitable business.
You know why?
Being a founder does not make you a strategic thinker, a good financial analyst or a good manager. Being excited and being a cool founder is simply not enough to make it. At the end of the day, no matter how innovative the world has become, it is the old school tactics that create a stable business.
So, if you are thinking about opening your own business or you are a founder that is feeling lost, depressed and overworked, here are a couple of tips that might make your life easier and eventually help you create a stable and profitable business.
1. Hire an assistant and business development manager.
We are a small business, I can do everything by myself, I don't need an assistant -- this is what I was telling myself for three years. By the time I hired someone to help me with my daily activities and huge workload, I was already overworked and lost in space. Having an assistant is not a luxury, it is a must. You may have the energy to do everything in the first or second year but as your business grows you need to have someone to help you with the small things so you can focus on the big things in the company. The same goes for business development managers. You cannot grow the business by yourself. You need people that will spread your ideas, pitch new clients and eventually bring the money that you will need to grow your business.
2. Have a clear vision and a precise strategy for your business.
If you cannot do it by yourself, hire someone that will help you translate your ideas into a strategy and most importantly, a business plan. The truth is that as founders most of the times we are too excited about our ideas and we forget to think how to strategically implement them and more importantly, analyze whether our ideas are sustainable, whether they benefit our company's vision and finally, whether they bring profit. And while on the subject of a vision, make sure that everyone understands your vision and make sure that there is only one vision in the company. Many of us make the mistake of adapting our visions to the needs of our employees, our partners or our clients and by the time we include everyone's input in our vision, the original vision is lost and we run a company that has nothing to do with our original business idea.
3. Focus on profitability because in business MONEY IS KING.
Being excited and having amazing ideas do not translate to profitability. Let's be clear. The main goal of your business is to be profitable. As founders, we often dream of changing the world but the truth is that if we are not running a profitable company, our chances of changing the world are 0. There were moments in these past five years where we had done some amazing things but the truth is that they didn't bring profit to our company. Did they bring satisfaction? Yes, they did but they didn't pay the salaries or bills. The key is to create something that will bring both satisfaction and profit. At the end of the day, we are running business organizations, not a charity.
4. Teach your employees accountability.
This is the hardest thing ever. As a Founder, you see your business as your baby and you think that everyone will take care of your company and will love your company the same way you do. The truth is a bit different. Our main goal as Founders from day one should be to promote and teach our employees accountability. No matter if you have two or twenty or hundred employees, at the end of the day everyone should be accountable for their actions. Yes, you are the founder but both the successes and failures of your company should be shared. It is everyone's responsibility in the organization to build a stable company, not just yours.
5. Do not settle for average employees.
Listen, if you spend time training an employee and he/she still does not deliver the needed results, fire them. I am sorry but I am so tired of having average employees and praying that one day they will change. You give them one chance, two chances and then you fire them. The sooner you realize this, the faster you can clean up the mess they have created. If you want to have a successful organization, you need to make sure that everyone runs at the same pace. You are either or on board or you are out. You are running a business not a kindergarten.
6. Do not rely on common sense.
As Founders, in our heads many things are common sense but the truth is that what might be common sense for us is a mystery for others. Do not reply on common sense. If you have an idea, or a plan, sit down and explain it into detail because not everyone has common sense.
7. If it was that easy, everyone would have a company!
Let's face it, there is nothing romantic about running a company. It is hard. It is probably the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. You will need super human strength and will power to make it. You will be depressed, happy, positive, negative, strong and weak, you will have anxiety attacks and moments of unseen happiness. You will experience every single emotion known to the human kind. Some of us will make it, some of us will fail and it's all fine because at the end of the day, you have to remember one thing- the success or the failure of your business does not define you as a human being.
Finally, remember, life is much more than running your business or having a successful company. Life is supposed to be lived and if running a company prevents you from living your life truly then maybe it is time to quit. There is nothing wrong with failure, as long as you learn your lessons and use them to create the life that you have always dreamt of.