Venturing out with a new small business can come with a drastic variety of emotions: It can be exciting, scary, empowering and humbling all at the same time. Even when small business owners start to find their way, they will likely stumble — a lot.
Take this recent story by Sam Edwards for entrepreneur.com. “If you’re looking for a glamorous lifestyle,” he says bluntly, “don’t choose an entrepreneurial career path. While the rewards can be lucrative, the beginning stages are almost always littered with challenges and growing pains.”
Here’s a look at some of those pains and how to get past them.
A new small business owner may take a my-way-or-the-highway approach. Those that have spent more time in the field can lean upon that experience and know when it’s time to shift gears.
As Edwards writes, “Experienced entrepreneurs understand that the first idea isn’t always the best idea. In other words, you must be willing to pivot when your initial idea or concept doesn’t work like it should. This is one of the more painful growing pains an entrepreneur experiences but also the most critical. It doesn’t feel good to give up on your idea, so you have to look at it in a different light. Instead of viewing it as ‘giving up,’ look at it like you’re transitioning. You’re using experiences that you’ve gathered to make an educated shift that will better benefit your business in the years to come.”
One of the tougher lessons for small business owners to learn may be how to shift duties to others so that they can free themselves for more important tasks. Those that have a do-everything-myself way of thinking will need to adjust at some point, as Peter Economy writes for inc.com.
“You can’t do everything yourself,” writes Economy. “And the bigger your business grows, the truer this becomes. That’s why it’s so essential to master the art of delegation. Delegating the day-to-day work of your business frees you up to think big, reach out to customers, nail down new sources of cash, and do the things that only you can do. As a bonus, delegation provides your employees with the hands-on experience they need to develop a broader range of skills, ensuring that they will be ready to grow along with your company. This in turn builds trust, spurs employee engagement, and improves the health of your organization.”
It’s hard to overestimate just how important it is for small business owners to surround themselves with the right people, especially as a young company grows. Edwards recommends three main points in hiring.
“Always start by gauging the interest of anyone you’re interviewing,” writes Edwards. “Are they as interested in you as you are in them? Hire based on potential, not past experiences. While experience does matter, you’re looking to move forward — not boast about the past. Always share your vision with potential hires to gauge how they connect with it. If you can get these three things right, you’ll be able to hire and retain top-level talent as your startup enters periods of growth.”
Here’s a seemingly eternal struggle that applies to just about all industries. Small-business owners may find achieving this balance even more difficult, due to the overall responsibility of the company’s performance. Laura Petrecca writes about this for USA Today.
“Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding, fulfilling — and all-encompassing — career path,” writes Petrecca. “If not kept in check, working too hard for too long can take a toll on a business owner’s health, as well as affect his or her relationships with others. … Entrepreneurs who put an excessive focus on business can inadvertently damage relationships with friends and family, as well as burn themselves out. In addition, those who answer e-mails and take calls during non-traditional business hours may broadcast the message that they are available to work day and night.”