5 Hard Truths No One Tells You About Business

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We all dream of being our own bosses one day. No matter how much your regular job pays you, you’ve dreamt of being an entrepreneur starting a business from scratch and watching it grow into a Wal-Mart , an Apple or a Facebook. No one is under the illusion that it’s going to be easy, but no one also told us about the following:

1. You invest your personal funds to keep the business alive. 

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No matter how small the initial capital to start a business is, you are going to need to pump money into it to make it survive. Most business start-ups are money takers, not money makers. You may find yourself using a quarter of your salary from your day job (if you still have it) just to pay your business rent. Paying your employees will be a painful experience. New businesses have trouble getting customers, and you may find the business doing nothing but cannibalising its capital.
Tip: At this point, dedicate your time to finding customers. Without them, your business will collapse the minute your other source of funds are dried up.

2. Your customers become your boss. 

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How many of us haven’t ever yelled at a tailor for keeping too long to complete our clothes? The fact is, start-ups have a hard time keeping up with demand, especially if you are into services. If you dissatisfy a customer, it’s likely they’ll never come back. Everytime you will be afraid of phone calls coming in from customer’s who have had their patience stretched to the limit and you will find yourself giving timelines you can’t meet.
Tip: Assign manageable tasks to your employees and make them responsible for completing each task within a timeline. This helps to reduce disappointment of customers and shoddy jobs. 

3.  You work very long hours. 

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This is linked to point #3. In trying to keep up with demand with a small staff who won’t be willing to work as long, you will have to put in hours and hours of work. Your weekends and weekdays will merge into one. You will practically live in your office (if you have one).
Tip: Just like with point #2 assigning tasks will help, but long hours of work cannot be avoided. Think of your hard work as a necessary sacrifice and appreciate that you are doing this for yourself, not for anyone else.

4. Your business has a higher chance of failing than succeeding. 

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While statistics widely differ, most report that about 60% of start-ups fail. You may be working hard enough, but there is always the risk that a new technology will come up and make your whole business obsolete. The rate at which new customers come in, the costs of doing business and what your competitors are doing are the factors that determine if your business will survive or fail, and as you may have realised, it’s pretty hard to control those factors.
Tip: Try to stay one step ahead of your competitors all the time. Don’t tune your mind to one industry, most businesses become totally different from what they were as start-ups.

5. Lasting longer doesn’t mean getting stronger. 

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Statistics show that 25% of start-ups fail in the first year while a whopping 71% fail in the tenth year. This means that even after getting through all the tough things on this list, you are still not home free. Businesses that had mega-success usually had something happen that totally changed them, for example, Apple had the iPhone, Google had Android. Companies like IBM that are stuck in time need something like that to pull them up. So being in business long does not mean your business is now safe: even the great Microsoft is trembling.
Tip: Innovate, innovate, change and innovate

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Jerome Kuseh

Accountant | Economist-in-Training | Private Investor
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