I took some time off from work last night to just relax. I was browsing through my cable channels and found A League of Their Own on. The movie came out in 1992 and is easily one of my favorites of all time, and every time I watch it, I glean more wisdom from it than I did the last.
This time around, a quote from the character Jimmy Dugan (the Rockford Peaches’ coach), played by Tom Hanks, is what resonated with me:
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” –A League of Their Own
I immediately thought of owning a small business and being an entrepreneur. Being a small business owner and an entrepreneur is hard. Anyone who promises easy success from starting and running your own business is either a fool or selling snake oil.
What Makes it So Hard
- Unless you’ve done it before, knowing all the rules and regulations is a job in itself. Taking the time to start something and to do it legally and ethically is exhausting.
- You are always working. I mean always. Being an entrepreneur relies on how much you put in, and between managing your business, marketing your business, attending to clients, and planning ahead, there leaves little down time. Time is money, after all.
- There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick formula. Even people who sell and/or create a product that seemingly has overnight success have done an extraordinary amount of pre-work to give that appearance.
- You will get rejected…a lot. Whether you’re rejected by a customer, a major retailer, haters who don’t believe in you, rejection is inevitable.
- Losing money is bound to happen. Sometimes your money gets tied up in inventory, in supplies, in legal, in web design, in poor decisions, entrepreneurship costs money.
- Self-doubt is a monster lurking beneath the bed. Can I do this? Should I do this? Did I do this correctly? Why did I do that? What happens if I fail? Oh, the doubt, doubt, doubt.
- Everyone will think they know how to run your business better than you do.
- Competition is inevitable. Envy is indubitable. Sadly, some people don’t want to watch you succeed, even worse, others will actually try to tear you down.
- Some people will expect to get things for free from you – maybe friends, maybe family. It’s a truly uncomfortable position.
With so many negatives (and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch), it makes you wonder how or why anyone ever gets started at all? Because the hard is what makes it great.
How to Succeed
- Stop trying. Be like Yoda. “No. You must not try. Do or do not. There is no try.”
- You will struggle, without any question, but your drive to want to succeed must outweigh everything else.
- Accept each downfall and learn from it. Switch your mindset from “failure” to “experience” and look to it as an opportunity to capture data for future decisions.
- Make changes when you need to; don’t wait “for the right opportunity.” The moment you can see a change needs to happen, do it. If something is not working, don’t be afraid to just change it.
- Get creative with money. Try Kickstarter, try Shopify Capital, try Kiva. The key is plan before you get money for what you will do when you get money.**
- Join a network of like-minded people who will collaborate with you to inspire and empower you to succeed.
- Find your cheerleaders who will support you. Find one or two objective folks who will tell you the truth without any personal gain. Keep these people close, treat them well, and listen more than you speak.
- Invest in only what will pay you back 10-fold. If it will lose value after one-or-two uses (whether it’s a piece of equipment, software, or a service), don’t bother.
- Envision what you want your business to be in one year, three years, and five years. Do one thing every day that will move you towards that vision.
- For as hard as you’re working, give yourself a little time to unplug and unwind. Whether this is once a day, once a week, or even once a month, make sure the break is long enough for you to unpack yourself and shut-down.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. Even if this means hiring someone to do your accounting or to clean your house, allow yourself to be just the business owner while you’re working your way up.
**I have not been paid to endorse any of these companies in this post.
Do you have what it takes to be a small business owner? I think you do.