Starting up a new business is a huge step for anyone. It is like signing up for a Masters Degree in ’embracing uncertainty’. There is so much that is challenging and unknown. There is so much to do and usually only you to do it. To be actually stepping out and pursuing your dreams is extremely exciting and very scarey all at once.
Someone said something to me recently, “Your success is directly related to your willingness to embrace uncertainty”. In other words, ‘the more open you are to experiencing and learning new things the more successful you can be’, and the corollary, ‘you are unlikely to be successful if you don’t like to take risks.’
There are ways of minimising risks – getting great advice, having a well thought out business plan, researching your market carefully, knowing your product well, being committed to excellence and customer service, and more.
However, no matter how well prepared you are, in your first 2 years there are still going to be many times every week when you have to make tough decisions and face things you have never done before. It’s certainly not boring, but it can prove to be very stressful. The ability to handle that stress related to uncertainty seems to be a key element of any business success story.
Some of the uncertainty I have embraced in the past 3 months since starting a new business:
- Learning to enjoy networking – Like most people I find walking into a room of people I don’t know quite daunting, but I am now doing it 2-3 times a week, and have started to make some great new relationships
- Learning to carry the pressure of continual risk – not being sure where the next client is coming from means that managing cashflow is an ongoing challenge.
- Learning to balance passion and vision with the realities of being small – having to crawl, before I walk, before I run and to make sure I don’t get ahead of myself. Each goal seems to take a bit longer than I planned.
- Learning to ask for advice and assistance – I am a self sufficient (ok, proud) person and like to work things out for myself. But too much is at stake so I’m happily asking and learning from successful people who are surprisingly willing to share their wisdom.
- Learning to consistently give great customer service – is requiring significant personal growth so that it is becoming my natural disposition to genuinely care for the interests of others beyond their expectations.
- Learning to maintain a healthy work/life balance – I find it essential to have at least one day a week when I totally stop all business activities and do other things that replenish me and build life.
Starting your own business is not for everyone! Many people will be much happier and less stressed earning wages and pursuing other career pathways.
80% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years, and of the remaining 20 % a further 80% fail in the next 5 years.
It’s always going to be risky, but for those passionate visionaries who really want to go for it make sure you have the kind of supports in place that enable you to embrace uncertainty with confidence so you can stay your course to achieve your dreams.
What has helped you to embrace uncertainty as you started a business?
Another excellent post John, i can tell you one thing i have been in business for many years now and the funny thing is the more you're in business for yourself the more you want to be in it, but that depends on one thing,you must love what you do and the rest will work itself out. That's my experience anyway
A very poignant assessment on starting a new business!
Thank you for sharing your insights. Like most people I really like certainty, learning to embrace uncertainty and " learning to carry the pressure of continual risk" has just put into words something I have been unable to articulate.