Because I’m the process of building yet another company in my life and I find myself encountering similar challenges as in the past. Regardless of being an ocean apart from my last one start-up experience, I figured country, culture and language has little to do when you start your own little business. You will have some more culture-oriented challenges, but there are always the main ones we face as individuals with big dreams and little means to make it happen. I’ll mention the challenges I faced and share what I have done or I’m doing to overcome them. There are so many more as well and feel free to share them with me as well. Sometimes, sharing these challenges with people around you alleviate the weight that comes with it.
First off, the biggest one is doubt. The very first time I went through the process of a building my own start-up, I was filled with doubt and decided to put that on the lack of experience. Now that I’m older and had my share of experience, the doubt remains. Why?
Simply because you launch yourself in something that is filled with uncertainty. When you find a new job and you start as an employee, the company offers you comfort and security of revenue, hours and work. Unless you really suck at your job, you will be fine. But when you start your own little thing, you suddenly are the company and the revenue and work is uncertain. You need a dose of luck sometimes. You need to make your own business development to get more work in, hence revenue. And you’re not only doing “your job” anymore, you must do everything. How do you deal with it? How do you face the doubt?
Honestly, you push through. You focus on the idea that you started this project because you are good at something specific and can bring your talent to help other companies. It’s scary and sometimes, I do wake up at night because of the doubts that hit me. I get the whole “Did I make the right decision?”, “Am I in over my head?” It’s even harder if you must do it alone. Dealing with these “moments of doubt” is not easy. No partners, no loved one to support you or give you ideas, basically no one in the bad moments. But at the end of it, these are just that “moments of doubt”. They pass. As long as you keep pushing and concentrate on the contracts you already must deliver something amazing, word will travel. Work will come in. Just remain true to yourself and consistent and you’ll be fine.
Second big challenge is another obvious one, money. Let’s be honest, as a start-up, money is a b*tch. Getting underpaid to over deliver to your clients happens a lot. You need to build a trust relationship with clients when you basically have no portfolio. You sir (or madam) are basically invisible as a start-up and you do not have the means to become visible through advertisement and building yourself the website of the century. You don’t have access to all the whistles and bells that the big guys have. So how do you overcome the money issue? Two options: Find an investor and sell you start-up idea like your life depends on it, because it does, or downsize your ambition when you start. Think smaller at the beginning. Honestly, this is hard for me too. I’m an overachieving and overambitious person that sees way beyond my own personal means and budget. But I learned that there’s a time and place for everything. Check your budget, calculate what you really need and see if you can start on a smaller scale. Build yourself up from there. Just like a video game. Upgrade your needs, equipment as you grow and avoid being stupid here as this is the part that can mess up your life the most. As I said, money is a b*tch and it has no pity.
Third big challenge is promoting yourself. There’s a lot of shy people out there with great talent. Amazing talent even but that do not have the strong personality to promote oneself or even to go out there and do the whole “business development” thingy. Lucky for me, I’m an extrovert and probably a social butterfly as well. I have my moments where I like to keep to myself, but most of the time, I’m sociable. I like talking with people and I came to notice the following. In every social and networking event, you’ve got the social butterflies, like me, and the baby caterpillars, like some of you. (Sticking to the butterfly metaphor here). And if you are the shy type, honestly, you should just give it a nudge and go to these events. Some of these butterflies will come to talk to you, introduce you to other people and before you know it, you will start to have potential leads. The biggest challenge is just showing up if you are not the social type. Then you also have a huge amount of resources online to just sell your services. Especially in the marketing and web industry. If you are a designer, and google analytics expert or anything around that industry, you can make yourself an extra buck by using resources like upworks.com or fiverr.com without ever leaving your home. Being shy suddenly doesn’t seem like such a great excuse, am I right?
Here’s for the forth and last challenge for this article. I call it the “crazy workaholic” lifestyle. Whether you want it or not, having a start up is not a chill and relaxed experience. Ever wonder why so entrepreneurs and business owners are judged for overworking? Well simply because they cannot do “just their job”. When you start you company, you are the expert in your field that delivers something to a customer. But you are also all the following: Accounts Receivable, Marketer, Collection, Accounting, Receptionist, Seller, Content writer, CEO, Grunt worker, Personal secretary to yourself. You get the idea. You are everything besides your expertise. That leaves you little time to chill. And it takes a toll on your body and mind. I do wake up some mornings completely wiped out. I mean, no motivation to even get out of bed because you’ve been finishing so late the last 4 or 5 days and you “just want a break”. So how do I deal with it? I learned to take a break before I break. I allow myself at least one day a week where I put all work aside, sometimes even my cellphone (that one is hard) and take my camera out and go out and explore. Or sometimes, I just spend the day watching movies. Who cares? It’s your day. It’s the thing I found to avoid losing completely myself and end up with a start up burn out. Because that’s a real thing and if you end up in a burn out, kiss your start up goodbye.
I know there are many more challenges and we can talk a lot about it. But these are the ones that popped out the most for me and maybe some of you relate to it as well. If you do want to share your own challenges, please do so. Make sure to tell everyone how you overcame them and if you have any advice to give. It helps to remind ourselves that we are not the first ones to go through the process of building our own business and career from scratch.
Today’s item on the list :
Cook some healthy food instead of ordering in.(Might seem not like much, but in China, ordering in is so easy and cheap… too easy.)
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