Successful entrepreneurs tend to progress through four phases of the business lifecycle: survival, growth, maturation and the day after. Each phase has its own set of challenges, both financial and emotional. And while no journey is the same, there are many commonalities, and awareness of these commonalities will allow you to prepare your business and yourself to deal with them. One common challenge in the survival phase is the need for a steadfast belief in the service or product that you are bringing to market.
In the very beginning of an enterprise, think of a home brewer who has produced a perfect case of oatmeal stout, there are a lot of emotions. Excitement and confidence that this product is not only better than the competition, but something that you know people want. Maybe the initial proving ground was only friends or colleagues, but you feel it in your gut – this is going to work. Worry and concern are likely there too, that you will have to lay out a significant amount of money or take on significant debt to produce and market your product. Then there’s anxiety about timing and logistics – have you registered your business, do you have the necessary licenses, are you in compliance with all the relevant ordinances? There are a lot of planning and financial issues to work through, not to mention the related taxation and legal considerations. And whether you have saved up sufficient capital to hire professionals to identify these issues and help you develop a strategy to work through them, or whether you are flying by the seat of your pants and financing and managing everything on your own – there will likely be expenses and challenges you didn’t anticipate anyway, which will only amplify the emotions you are already dealing with.
But if you truly believe and are able to press on and launch your business, you give yourself a chance to succeed. The key is to be aware that along with a great product and an intelligently composed business plan, you need emotional balance as well. It will be a wild ride, especially in the survival stage, with the pendulum swinging from fear because of debt you’ve taken on to exuberance and perhaps overconfidence from a key initial sale. Not letting the highs get too high and or the the lows get too low will allow you to see more clearly and make objective, sound decisions. But to get to the point where your business begins bringing in revenue, you have to be willing to take that leap of faith and maintain confidence in the face of uncertainty.
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