As I said in the week before last, running a business is hard work. As well as all the work, it’s like holding up a massive mirror in front of you permanently, you find out all kinds of things about yourself, such as your procrastination style, your weaknesses and so many of your strengths. Let’s face it, if you’re starting a business, you’re about to find out what you’re really capable of. But it’s not for everyone, especially those who want a very busy family/ social life and a get rich quick scheme.
The latest statistics show that 20% of businesses fail in their first year and 60% within the first 3 years. Considering that 500,00-700,000 businesses are launched each year (source: gov.uk) in the UK alone, those stats translate into a lot of broken dreams.
To start a business, especially a side hustle, you need to be comfortable working long hours and making the sacrifices and receiving no recognition at all for your hard work.
Revenue Generation is Number One
You cannot “build a business” and then sit back and wait for customers to come to you. It just doesn’t happen. If you look at the market, unless you have an entirely new and innovative product, it can be really tricky to get the coverage you need to drive entirely organic traffic (customers who find your business on their own with no ad spend) to your business. Getting customers must become your number one priority. I’m going to say that again, in a different way – building a strong social media presence can drive traffic to your business but placing all your focus on becoming an Instagram Influencer isn’t going to drive traffic to your business.
Every Day is a Learning Day
No two days in entrepreneurship are ever the same, sometimes you won’t even feel like getting out of bed, other days you will feel like a true survivor, on top of the world creating gold content and networking your way into fantastic deals. Singing Elton John’s “I’m still standing” at the top of your voice in the kitchen. Just me? Ok. The point is, there’s no comfort zone here, there’s just hard work – internal and physical. But, I do love that every single day is a learning day and I am learning new skills as I go. New skills are invaluable.
Even Bezos didn’t make a trillion dollars over night
Progress can be slow, very, very slow.
I know it’s easy to look at Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk and see the appeal of entrepreneurship and making trillions of dollars, but Bezos started Amazon back in 1994 and re-imagined the business model hundreds of times. He certainly didn’t start the empire you see today back in 1994, it was an online bookstore then, not the shoe store, electronics store, media empire, data storage company, food store etc that you see today. It has taken 27 years to make Bezos a trillion dollars.
Musk is a serial entrepreneur, owning at least 5 companies at present. In 1999, Musk sold his first company, co-founded with his brother in 1995 for $307 million. Musk was also a key member of the founding team of PayPal. These deals may have happened overnight but building and scaling a sale-worthy business did not. Most entrepreneurs though, are not Musk or Bezos, and can work for many years without seeing a single penny.
Building a profitable start-up is all-consuming and when it’s a side hustle, you will definitely be working more than an eight-hour day. Building the profitable business is not impossible, not by any stretch but it is hard. Don’t be under any illusions.
You Need to Wear All the Hats
You are the CEO, COO, CFO, R&D, Customer Service Department, CMO and Sales Team etc of your business, and then you’re the worker bees too. Even if you start a business with someone else, or a few other people, you are the one(s) responsible for defining AND implementing your strategies in all areas of the business. If you don’t know anything about IT implementations and how to get your monitor to talk to your computer and speakers, you are going to have to learn, or pay someone else to do it.
I have a love hate relationship with marketing, so I knew this was not going to be the easiest part of doing business for me. I knew I had to learn how to do my own marketing, and then I discovered that I also needed to understand Analytics and SEO, neither of which are my favourite things, so I had to learn them so I could become better at them and thereby dislike them a bit less.
I also need an accountant (by law in the UK), I don’t even like Maths, but that doesn’t mean I get to forget about having financial management knowledge, because I am accountable, and I need to read a balance sheet and know what I am signing off.
Automate and delegate
So many of the day-to-day tasks can be automated and delegated. The first thing I would automate if I had to do this all over again is lead generation and nurture, because leads equal sales.
Other items you can automate are:
- Email marketing
- Invoicing and billing
- Accounting systems – Xero, QuickBooks
- Systems and processes
- Evergreen product sales – these generate recurring income and recurring revenue is gold!
Procrastination will kill your dreams
You are the boss of your business and your employee(s), i.e., YOU. You have got to manage your time and activities effectively, because no-one else is going to keep you accountable or pick up the pieces.
Planning means nothing without action.
Do not start your business, or leave your job, until you have a plan – including daily action – to get you there. For example, do you need to incorporate your business? Do you need to have contracts drawn up (or write them yourself) for your services? Setup an email marketing account to capture your leads. Register your domain name and social media accounts. Research your avatar and target market. Find suppliers and build a relationship. There is always something to do at whatever stage of business you are in.
If all you are doing is building a to-do list but not actually doing, you are not moving your needle.
Point of View
My favourite part of being an entrepreneur is being in control of my time and freedom, I can work from anywhere at whatever time I choose. If I am having a night owl week, then being able to work at night is great for me. But it hasn’t been easy throughout the journey, I’ve worked my ass off and I’m still not where I want to be. I don’t know if I ever will be, because my goals change and grow each year.
You have to build rock solid resilience and belief in yourself and your business because the people around you, don’t always understand or support your dreams and ideas. And there’s a multitude of reasons for that, including that there is a high risk of failure and often they don’t want to see you have to deal with the pain of it failing, because failure hurts and it can take a great deal of effort to come back from it. There will be multiple failures, not necessarily of the business but certainly of some of the ideas and strategies you try to implement. But if failing multiple times is something to which you are averse, perhaps entrepreneurship is not for you.
Entrepreneurship can leave you feeling as if it is you against the world, which can be lonely and frustrating, but also empowering, because I like to prove people wrong though, so that forces me to push through. In Afrikaans we say “jy sê nie vir my”, which basically means “you don’t get to tell me what to do”– which pretty much sums me up in one sentence.
If you are ready to start your side hustle and want to feel more confident and supported, please book a discovery call with me and we can discuss your needs.
I am hosting a Masterclass on Setting Up Your Side Hustle on 29 November 2021 at 19:00GMT. Register to join me here.