Years ago I asked a young relative what he wanted to do after he completed his education. His response was: “I want to own my own business”.
“That’s great,” I said. “But why?”
He reasoned: “Because then I can work my own hours, and not have a boss tell me when to come and go.”
I almost laughed. I don’t think he realized that business owners have more than a boss telling them when to work – they have customers, employees, competitors, the regular crises that take place and government regulators with their endless reporting and filing requirements.
So, why would anyone want to own a business? Especially when you realize that most entrepreneurs (at least for the first seven years or more) work on average 12 hours a day, seven days a week and hardly ever get a real holiday.
As well, you have no security, no benefits, no company pension plan and some even mortgage their homes to fund the business operations.
Why do people risk everything to own a business instead of just getting a job?
As an employee, at the end of the day, your work is done.
“It’s for the freedom,”
says Caron Prins, owner of Chip Shack on Prince Street in Charlottetown. “I had no idea of the work that was involved, or the hours required, but I am a jumper − a risk taker.”
As the maxim goes − sometimes you just have to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. She agrees, and that is how she lives her life.
When she started her business, she did not even know how to properly cook a french fry. Now, she offers a delicious menu of fish and chips, poutine, pulled pork, as well as numerous sauces and gluten-free garnishes that she makes herself.
All products are locally sourced and made. She is referred to as “The Queen of Fries”. She went through a time when all her credit cards were maxed out, but she knew she had to survive, so she kept moving forward.
I believe it was this attitude that really made the difference.
“If you have good intentions, put it out there. You will discover that the right people will come along at the right time, Prins says.”
This is completely in line with my friend Bob Proctor’s “Law of Attraction,” which we teach in many of our seminars.
Of course, there are some basic competencies you will need to succeed as a business owner, like passion, dedication, energy, and optimism. But, if you feel this is for you, here are some additional tips to help you succeed:
Be action oriented – people who have a concept, but not necessarily a detailed strategy, are often more likely to have that entrepreneurial spirit for success. If you over analyze and create detailed business plans in the beginning, you will be less likely to even start.
Live in fear – often entrepreneurs who are judged as ambitious are really insecure underneath. People who are nervous about failing will become hyper-focused and do whatever it takes to succeed.
Be resourceful – has anyone ever told you that you could make chicken soup out of chicken droppings? Mike Cassidy, the king of transportation in the Maritimes says, “You just have to find a solution, there is no room for excuses.”
Understand cash flow is king – in the early days you may need to make payroll by putting it on your personal credit card or line of credit. Don’t focus on profit, focus on cash flow and revenue growth.
Be resilient – no matter what happens or how bad it seems, don’t let it get you down. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Have the attitude that this is the choice you made, and for better or worse you will work through it.
I have written before − in today’s business environment every manager needs to act like they own the business and treat employees like they are all volunteers. So in a way, even if you are a manager in a larger organization, you should have that entrepreneurial mindset too.