7 Things You Would Tell Your Younger Self About Starting Your Own Business
As an entrepreneur setting up a business or scaling it towards success is a constant battle between the rational mind and the intuitive gut
There are 3 general approaches to take for every decision in my opinion – that of a realist (analytical, data driven, dependent on past history of similar situations), pessimist (nervous, risk averse, overtly safe, or optimist (risk loving, yes man, irrational at times).
Although our modern notion of 'being realistic' is much closer to standard pessimism, where we downplay the good things and see the bad as inevitable, a true realist is someone who makes completely unbiased judgments.
There are countless decisions and actions that one is required to make, which can impact the business in several ways. While it is important to listen to yourself, you must not ignore the importance of following a practical approach to realize your dreams and work your way towards a successful business.
In a nutshell, a balanced entrepreneur has a good measure of each of the 3 professional personalities mentioned above.
Let’s talk about the ground rules.
1. Create a Plan and Follow it – Creating a well thought out business plan to start off with. These initial steps may seem pointless to some but It’s strongly advisable to spend time on your business plan, putting it down on paper. Once you get down to doing that, you realize the gaps in your idea and conclude with a more concrete plan for your business going forward – especially financially. Back in 2012, when we had finalized on the idea of PropShop24, we spent the next 6 months creating our business plan and budgets, reaching out to international brands, getting our registrations and paperwork in place – sales tax, company registration import licenses and what not. Thankfully these processes are now much easier. We built a strong base before receiving our first order and when we did, thanks to the foundation we were able to execute operations smoothly.
2. Stay Determined & Focused –One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is giving up too easily because of the numbers in the bank or getting demotivated because of teething problems in the early stages. One thing you should know about entrepreneurship is that it’s never going to be easy. The most important thing is to believe in yourself, your idea and to be patient. Follow your passion and have faith, success will come.
3. Establish a Long-Term Network of Trust – While your business may be your brainchild, you will not always be able to function without an equally enthusiastic and dedicated team of people. When starting out a new business, you must ensure that slowly and steadily you establish a handpicked team of individual’s who understand your vision and work in tandem every day to achieve the targets laid out for them. It is very important that you create an inclusive environment to encourage all members of the team to contribute to both individuals, as well as the company, can grow together organically. Additionally, find a mentor – someone who gives you sound advice, someone you can call for their opinion on important decisions and someone who can help you see the light when you lose track.
4. Be Prepared to Unlearn and Learn New Things – Learning is an on-going process. The moment you feel that ‘ know it all’ is when you start ignoring mistakes and minimizing opportunities to expand your knowledge. Once you decide to start your own business, you will receive numerous opportunities to unlearn some of the old ways of doing things and learn new ways. You must always be open & receptive to these new learnings to ensure that you have a strong basis to back your decisions in order to grow the business.
5. Address Challenges With a Problem-Solving Approach – A new business presents a new challenge almost every day. Even after setting up a detailed and well-analyzed business plan, there might be certain unforeseen challenges that you may come across. However, when you approach each challenge by accepting the issue at hand and working together with the team to find a solution, you can overcome any challenge and maintain steady progress to grow the business as planned. Don’t get bogged down by small failures, ups and downs or minor set backs, it is all part of the game.
6. Never be Afraid to Make Mistakes or Seek Help – When you are responsible for your actions and decisions to drive your business you are bound to make mistakes. You must never be afraid to recognize our mistakes and address them as and when required. A mistake or wrong decision that we address today will enable us to minimize or negate their impact on your business and also equip us to deal with such circumstances in the future. In this regard, when we are at a cross road unable to decide which way to go, we must not be hesitant to seek help from anyone around us who may have the relevant experience to deal with such a situation.
7. Be Aware of Your Finances and its Associated Risks – As the old saying goes, ‘never put all your eggs in one basket’, the first and foremost action plan for any new business is to identify the sources and the right mix of funds that would infuse life into the business plan To begin with, we must detail out the financial plan and identify the phases as to when and how much we need to invest at each phase to grow the business. This is why creating a business plan is of utmost importance. . Keep your business expenses lean at every step of the way but be sensible by making the right investments in functions like accounting. Hire a good CA so you know the status of your money at all time. At the onset itself, our focus should be to mitigate identified financial risks and tactfully embed provisions for unforeseen ones.
To Conclude, Everybody Wants to be Their Own Boss – but my advice is don’t rush into it. Take your time; wait until you are fully ready for it. If you need experience, join a company in a similar field to what you want to do. Don’t jump onto the entrepreneurship bandwagon just because it is the cool thing to do. It not only requires immense hard work and lots of stress where you ought to feel alone but also a lot of sleepless nights.
Amtosh's journey with gifting started with his firm, Far Left Retail Pvt Ltd. Realizing the need for off-beat gifting options; he co-founded "PropShop24‟, India's first online out-of-the-box brand that has collaborated with over 500 companies to create a marketplace of unique design led products. During the course of building PropShop24 he soon discovered one of his most tightly held business learnings; “Watch your numbers like a hawk. Orders, customers, cash flow, margins etc; you need to be looking at those numbers carefully at least thrice a week.”
Determined to not let "PropShop24‟ become just another e-commerce website, he pays special attention to the quality and relevance of the products added to the website. Focusing on getting the right brands on board instead of having a thousand brands. They have recently expanded into food, blue label products, beauty and jewellery as well. Attempting to test his brand in the brick and mortar format, he also opened a store at Flea Bazaar Café in Lower Parel.