You’ve completed the first step: you’ve got an idea. Maybe you’re making progress towards realising that idea – developing a business plan, telling your friends, looking into office space for sale. However, for every hurdle you jump over, it seems like three more crop up in its place. Some hurdles may even seem more like mountains.
Take comfort: for every problem associated with starting your own business, there is a solution. Face hurdles one at a time, giving each one attention and focus without allowing it to overwhelm you. You’ll be leaping powerfully over every obstacle in no time!
Choosing Your Business Identity
When getting started, you must choose how to classify your business. You can retain full ownership as a sole proprietor, or split with multiple owners or shareholders by creating a limited liability corporation (LLC), C-corporation, or S-corporation.
Consider every option. Sole proprietorships increase your control and privacy, but link your personal and business assets – and liability. LLC are separate entities from their owners, but are still taxed according to those owners’ tax rates. C- and S-corporations are full business entities, and therefore subject to more formal regulation and lesser privacy.
Research carefully and make an informed decision. Consult a professional mentor or a tax specialist to understand the legal and financial regulations associated with each choice.
Budgeting and Funds
Starting a business is a big financial step – but it doesn’t have to be a leap from stable salary into unknown void. By budgeting and planning, you can keep both your personal and business finances in order.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to immediately quit your current job. You can start your business as a “side hustle” and split time between your existing job and the new project. This gives you opportunity to save and put money aside so that you have a comfortable cushion even if your business starts out “in the red”.
One recommended strategy is creating a “financial runway”. Calculate costs required to run your business for one month. Then, build up several months’ worth of savings. This gives your business time to “take off” while minimising risk and keeping your personal financial situation stable.
The other major investment required to start a successful business is time. Planning, researching, implementing – as founder, your time investment will be significant. At first, it may seem that you have no time in your life for anything besides business-related tasks.
Manage time concerns with two strategies: scheduling and treating yourself as a resource. First, create and stick to a schedule. Have both a long term plan – setting dates for meeting goals and reaching milestones – and a short-term one – a weekly appointment book which keeps track of your availability and hours worked. Getting everything done in the available time seems far less overwhelming.
Additionally, remember to take breaks. Give yourself time away from working or even thinking about your business. Pursue hobbies, take naps, and spend time with family and friends. This may seem counterintuitive, but will in fact allow you to more productively use the time you do spend working, lower stress, and eliminate the risk of burnout.
Your first instinct might be to stay quiet about business doings and keep your ideas close to your chest. However, this can severely limit your ability to build a support team. Through sharing with friends and family, you can create a network of people who are willing to listen to you, give you honest feedback, and serve as a “brain trust” to help you overcome obstacles such as the ones in this article.
Being open about your business is also a great way to simplify the hiring process. You might even be able to save time posting ads and conducting job searches if you find willing, interested friends looking for employment. However, don’t forget – it’s also okay to outsource work, and to make use of available resources such as freelance workers, contractors and business consultants in the early days of growth.
Overcoming Your Own Worst Enemy
Lastly, one surprisingly personal, often unexpected obstacle can arise: yourself. Starting a business is a daunting task. It’s normal to feel emotions such as fear, apprehension, stress, and frustration as new hurdles appear and things go differently than you planned or imagined. No amount of scheduling and budgeting can truly remove in-the-moment emotional responses.
However, it is important not to let your fears and doubts get the best of you. Be honest about your feelings – communicate with your mentors, partners and support network. But don’t let them become stumbling blocks. Use the methods and solutions introduced in this article to face all obstacles in own your way with confidence – even those which may come from within your own head.
| About the Guest Author:
Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.