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Are You Sure You Want to Be an Entrepreneur? (Part 1 of 2)

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Ken is a retired entrepreneur. He is married with two adult children and nine grandchildren. He loves traveling and any beach that has sand.

The Stress of Owning a Business Is Crazy!

I was an insurance agency owner for 42 years, prior to retirement and have real-life entrepreneurial experiences to share. For the purpose of this article, I will be a business owner again... an entrepreneur in life’s lessons, if you will.

You don’t know what you don’t know!

Like any other morning, I opened my doors right at 9:00 a.m., on the dot. Being punctual is one of my non-negotiable traits. I’m a consultant for entrepreneurs from all walks of life. My store is always busy with people seeking my advice.

As soon as I unlocked the door and raised the shade, a young couple entered. I could tell they had stopped by the local library by the five or six books they were lugging with them — all of which carried the theme of “Starting a Business.”‘Look at you! You finally decided to take the plunge, huh?’ I asked, trying to strike up a conversation. I wanted to find out as much as I could about them. My experience over the years has taught me to study people.

Learning about my customers is paramount in what I do for a living. It helps me define their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, plus much more.‘’Yeah, we got tired of the man telling us what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and then cracking down on us for not doing more! We saw an ad about this opportunity to own a business and thought we’d check it out. But that’s not the only reason — we want to create something with our own hands and brains, something we can be proud of, maybe turn over to our children someday.’‘

"That’s great," I said. What kind of experience do you have owning a business?” I wondered.

‘None,’ they replied.

My day had transformed itself before my eyes — from a relaxing day at the office into one busy with “detail work,” filled with an extra dose of exhaustion, and it was only 9:00 a.m.

‘Let me check my calendar here, so we won’t be interrupted.’

I quickly checked my schedule for the day… no pressing engagements appeared, so we were in luck.‘Well, my schedule doesn’t look too busy today.’ I announced. ‘How may I help you?’ I queried.

I was shocked and surprised by their next question.‘How long will this take?’ they wondered.

‘Well, that depends,’ I answered. ‘Do you want to succeed or fail?’ I asked in a serious tone.

They both looked at me, puzzled by such a silly question. I knew exactly what they were thinking: ‘Of course we want to succeed.’As they say at the start of most horse races nowadays, “And they’re off!”Their “Business Education 101” course had just begun.

Before I continued their instruction, I wanted to be certain I had their attention, so I asked another question: ‘What have you left out?’ I asked.

They looked perplexed and began looking back and forth at each other, wondering what they had forgotten to tell me. They were clueless as they turned back to me.

Confused, they both leaned in toward me and asked: ‘Huh?’

Now I had their attention. I told them to sit back in their chairs, and I’d fill them in on what they hadn’t told me. I started their education with the simplest reality check I know.

Beginning a business is challenging for so many entrepreneurs due to one simple nugget of truth:

“You don’t know what you don’t know!”

“Any education is expensive, for a variety of reasons, but it is even more costly when you’re starting a business. Why is that? Because it is a never-ending process!I read an article from November of 2020, titled What Percentage of Small Businesses Fail? (fundera.com), where the author, Georgia McIntyre — Fundera Ledger, highlighted some interesting data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Business Employment Dynamics.

Did you know 80% of all Start-up businesses survive their first year? In their second year of operation, 70% will still be operating, and by the end of 10 years, only 30% of all those businesses will be open for business. That’s a pretty high rate of attrition, isn’t it?

No business course you might take will be able to guarantee your success. That’s because running a business is a constant trial-and-error process. One strategy will work for a while. Then, suddenly, a new strategy is needed because your customer base demands more, or different, or better, or newer.

This isn’t just about the facts and figures of actually running the business. No way! You can google an answer to find out about business plans, cash flow, profit and loss statements, goodwill, and tax considerations. Those are easy! This is about the ramifications of owning the business and how it applies to the rest of your lives.

Let me speak to you about what you haven’t told me:

  1. What kind of business do you hope to start?
  2. What is your primary motivation for starting a business?
  3. How committed are you to this venture?
  4. What is your experience level in this particular field?
  5. How is your health?
  6. How long have you two been partners?
  7. Where will this business be located?
  8. Have you arranged enough financing for sustainably funding the business expenses you will incur?
  9. How many employees will you have on your payroll?
  10. Will you be conducting hiring interviews, or will you seek outside help in that area?
  11. Have you been trained and are you qualified to run whatever machinery is needed in this business?
  12. What are your hours of operation?
  13. Outside of the business, how is your family life?
  14. How well do you handle stress?
  15. What type of activities do you enjoy to keep yourselves physically, and mentally fit?
  16. What kind of desire do you have?
  17. What is your backup plan?
  18. Are you flexible?

Let me stop the list right there for a moment. It isn’t quite finished yet. These are just some of the considerations you must tackle if you decide to proceed with opening your business. I can’t answer all the merits and demerits of all these questions in one session. See you tomorrow!

Author's Note: This is the first part of a 2-part article I am posting. Part II will have the same headline as this article. Thanks for reading this!

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