Don’t Underestimate the Difficulties of Creating, Launching and Growing a Business
by Dominic Basulto, contributing writer
Small business owners and first-time entrepreneurs often underestimate all the challenges involved in creating, launching and growing a business. A common misconception is that once you have a great idea for a business, the business pretty much runs itself. But the reality is that you will often need a lot of help along the way – not just to get the business off the ground, but also to transform it into a profitable venture.
Difficulties in creating a business
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of creating a business is simply coming up with the right business concept that makes sense for current market conditions. One common mistake is assuming that a market exists for a new product or service, and then failing to do any of the upfront market analysis to see just how much consumer demand actually exists. This is where a business coach or mentor can provide real value, by helping you come up with the initial projections and estimates that can help you quickly sort through a variety of different business ideas and concepts.
In fact, one of the most popular services offered by business coaches is coming up with initial business plans for a new venture. These business plans often include a brief summary of the core target market, analysis of market conditions, financial projections for the next 12-24 months, and a summary of the overall strategy of the current management team. The good news is that a variety of proven tools and resources already exist to make the process of creating a new business plan from scratch as easy as possible for first-time entrepreneurs.
Difficulties in launching a business
Once you’ve settled on the perfect idea for your business, that’s where another major challenge emerges: How exactly are you going to finance this new business concept? The most common way to answer that question involves tapping into personal savings, and then once those savings have been drawn down, to start financing a business with credit card debt. But just how sustainable is that model over the long-term, especially if you are paying double-digit interest rates on that debt?
A business coach can help you come up with a realistic financing plan that makes sense for your new venture. Chances are, financing a business with credit card debt is not the best way to go. There are a variety of financing mechanisms that are available that you might not have ever considered, including some offered by the U.S. government, local Chambers of Commerce and different state and local agencies.
Another difficulty in launching a business is finding your first customers and generating initial sales momentum. Many people assume that if they hang a “Grand Opening” sign outside their brick-and-mortar business location, people will naturally stop by and start buying up their products. But the reality is that most businesses struggle to land their first customers, and when the first big sales do not start to materialize, they jump into panic mode. They’ll often start discounting their products, hoping that lower prices will lure in skeptical buyers. But that’s often a “race to the bottom,” compounding the problem of slow sales with low margins.
Difficulties in growing a business
If you think about growing a business, there are two major obstacles that entrepreneurs face – not growing fast enough and growing too fast. The problem that most people are familiar with, of course, is not growing fast enough. A good business coach can help you isolate the reasons for slower than anticipated growth. One reason might be the lack of a cohesive marketing strategy for bringing in new customers. Simply launching a new website or creating a Facebook page for your business is not a “strategy.” A strategy means understanding your core target market, developing a series of messages that will resonate with them, and then choosing the right platforms to deliver that message. Here, too, a business coach can help, primarily by helping you figure out your core demographic and then coming up with the right channels and platforms to attract that core demographic.
The other problem – growing too fast – is one that many entrepreneurs often overlook entirely. After all, this sounds like a good problem to have, right? Who would complain about getting “too much business”? Well, the problem has a lot to do with the scalability of your business. Think about businesses that are overwhelmed with new orders – the website crashes, the phones are ringing off the hook, orders are going out late to customers, and your business simply can’t keep up. If you don’t get help fast, you’re going to be dealing with some very disgruntled customers! A good business coach can help you scale your business, so that it can grow sustainably over time. You can still have rapid growth – but not the kind of rapid growth that is going to crash your servers and have you working 20-hour days to keep up with demand.
As your business grows, you will also need to start thinking about your overall hiring plans. At some point, a small one-person or two-person business is going to have to hire more people, create new layers of management, and perhaps even bring in some new top executives to help run the company. These are some of the most important hiring decisions that you will ever make. A large corporation with thousands of employees can afford to make a “bad hire,” but a small startup cannot. That’s especially true if you are bringing in top executives to handle mission-critical business functions like sales, marketing or operations.
As you can see, there are a variety of different obstacles and challenges that you will face as a new entrepreneur or small business owner. Why face these challenges alone? A business coach can help you work through each of these challenges, devise intelligent solutions and workarounds for all of them, and help put your new company on a firm footing for future growth. Don’t underestimate the challenges of creating, launching and growing a business; instead, tap into the expertise and experience that already exists within your industry.