Should I start a business?

“I’m in the process of starting a new business…”

“I am in the process of starting a new business…. I seem apprehensive about it.”

It’s tough to get a business off the group. If you’ve ever been there and decided to close shop, you will naturally find yourself a bit hesitant to go there again. Some of the struggles in your previous business might still haunt you. One such person, Jasmine says the following:

I am in the process of starting a new business, but I seem apprehensive about it. I am 60yrs old, closed a previously owned business that ran for 12years. I want to do what’s right for me, but struggling with knowing what that is. Hence, the career coaching outreach.

It’s hard for an entrepreneur to stomach a few things about being an employee:

  1. You’re used to being the one having to make the important decision. You’ll notice that some of your managers seem rather ill-informed (even if they’re not). 
  2. You think about how the business is being run and how it can be improved rather than focusing on the role you play as a regular employee.
  3. You begin to feel frustrated with how things are done in management  because you’re sure you can do better- and you probably can.
  4. You find some of the rules to be outrageous.
  5. No matter how well you do your job or how hard you work at it, you’re likely to earn the same money. Many companies lack proper performance indicators and incentives. 

Despite these obvious drawbacks you still find yourself in the employee seat and not in the seat of the employer. Why is that? 

The life of an employer isn’t often the life of luxury. When you own a business, whether small, medium or large, you are responsible for other people. Not only are you responsible for other people, you are responsible for people of this generation. Some of you identify with that distinction. There exists a discourse in the world that sees anyone who holds any type of authority as evil and oppressive. It doesn’t matter, often, how well you treat your staff, just the mere fact that they work for you makes them dislike you. Why is it that you have ‘more’ than them. Ironically, in most small businesses that are still up and coming, the owners earn less than some of their staff members! Often we need the staff to fulfill obligations, but we aren’t able to source enough obligations to pay ourselves well and our staff members well at the same time. Only entrepreneurs- people like us- understand some of the struggles in running companies, everyone else just thinks we are entitled rich people and we are exploiting everyone to further enrich ourselves. Once you know all of that, a job is really a walk in the park. So now what? Well, you have to play off the odds. We need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide if it’s really worth it? 

What exactly are you apprehensive about? 

You need to sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil or whatever digital devices substitute those things these days, and once again list all the things you think went wrong in your previous business venture. List them one by one. Circle the stuff you would really love to avoid if you could. The reality is that things almost always go wrong in business. It’s not a cruise, it’s a rollercoaster. Leave the things on the list that are likely to also go wrong in your new business. Now draw up a second list of things that can go wrong in your new business. Did you not perhaps already make sure the things that went wrong in your first business won’t likely happen in your second business? I don’t know the details, but I think you have. Everyone makes improvements after shutting down an earlier business. Everyone learns! 

What motivates you?

When I do business, I’m motivated by the fact that I love doing business. I love running projects and seeing how my plans come into fruition. I love the odd curveball, the awkward adjustments that need to be made along the way, and then finally winning at the end. I love all these things and it is what motivates me. Meaning, I am driven by the desire to fulfill a plan, reach an objective or simply to stand on the summit. If you are motivated by your love for business and it can carry you through the lows as well as keep you sober during the highs then you should go for it. If you are motivated by the $ value of what your business model can rake in, then I’d say, it’s probably not worth the headache. If after 10 years your business still hasn’t taken off and you are simply too tired to carry on, you need to be able to say that, “it was worth it!” Can you say that? 

Maybe you’re just not up for it?

I never believe in telling people to just think positively. That’s a lot of crap. I tell people, be realistic and reasonable with yourself. You mentioned that you’re sixty. Anyone would tell you that that’s a bit late to be starting a business- especially if you project that it could take another 10 years to take off. However, there are many reasons people do start businesses at sixty years old or above. One of the reasons is because they have kids, or they have a vision of having started something that will long outlive them. A good friend of mine started a women’s education program in Pakistan at the age of sixty. He is doing it because he believe that God will look at him favourably and perhaps he could go to heaven for helping empower the women of his country. He isn’t going to get rich, but he is enriching the lives of others, and to him that’s worth slogging away until he eventually dies. The only thing I’ve encouraged him to do is to put in proper handover procedures so his school could live one for hundreds of years after him. That’s not just a business anymore, it’s a legacy. I wish you all the best with your legacy. Godspeed! 

1 Comment

  1. My grandfather inherited his father’s business in which he grew up.
    In his old days, my friend asked him ; What’s wrong in this world?
    He said ‘ There is enough business for everyone, but someone wants
    it all’.

    So, a business needs to be protected.

    Then , there is ‘ what always sells, and what sells faster’ depending
    on your interest. He advised on a few avenues.

    Then there is, your records, ‘ you can’t control it if you can’t measure
    it’. Its so in the built environment too.

    So, I don’t know. Whatever you do, business or other, you need
    to keep focused, and need to be in or create the right soil in which
    to grow.

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