I. Businessman. (Part 3)
Start. Fall. Recover. Survive.
The first few months within starting up are crucial. They define the culture, growth path and the very foundations of your organization. This is also the period when you wake up to some unpleasant ground realities as a businessman.
Facts that are bitter pills to swallow. Facts that you learn to accept, albeit grudgingly, as you recover from the initial shock they give you.
Here are a few more of the things I learned while growing a business.
Learning No: 4
You can’t count on the support of your current clients:
A large number of businesses today are floated by professionals, who move from a job with a corporate, agency or service provider, with the hope of capitalizing on the relationships they have built, functioning as part of it.
However, the first thing that will hit your enthusiasm is this realization… There is a difference between representing an organization that is established, well entrenched with proven credentials and one that is perceived to be a one-man show.
Every client you count on, everyone who assures you of support before you start off, will in all probability, back out.
They will definitely meet with you. They will hear you out. They will show genuine appreciation for the fact that you finally started your own set up. They will even get you an opportunity to meet with other decision makers in their organizations.
But, very rarely would they actively recommend you, stand as a guarantee for your performance, or push your cause in their organizations.
After all, very few of them would want to stick their necks out for a new, unproven vendor. They would not risk their careers, however close they may be to you.
There is a big difference between a liking someone on a personal basis and staking one’s career on their success. A difference between a personal and a professional relationship. Each has its own place. Most often they do not overlap.
If you end up getting the promised support, good for you!
But make sure you have a strong ‘Plan B’. In case they do back out, who will you turn to? And how will you support your business in their absence?
It is the only way you will survive.
Learning No: 5
My friends / colleagues will support me / join me… NOT!
Most business ideas spawn over conversations with colleagues and friends from the same background as you.
Every plan sounds great over drinks.
Everyone likes to condemn the common enemy (usually the organization where you work, or the shared boss)
Everyone wants to ‘teach them a lesson’ by taking away their clients and / or doing better than them.
Everyone assures you of joining your company, once you start it.
Everyone (well, almost every one) stops right there.
The very same friends, who egged you on to start, will find excuses to avoid you once you’re on your own. After all, they suffer from the same salary addiction as you did. They would have second thoughts when it comes to moving into a small setup where there are no guarantees of salaries or earnings.
So, while planning to staff your business, identify the roles that need to be fulfilled. Don’t identify your friends / colleagues to fill these roles. If you’re lucky they might join you, but in all probability you’re going to be working with a completely new set of employees.
To save you time and effort, make sure you have a backup of profiles beyond your friends / colleagues, who can function in these roles if they back out.
Don’t believe me? Try this… the next time everyone pledges their unending support for your business, ask them to put their money where their mouth is and fund you.
You will then know how many real friends you have.
TO BE CONTINUED…
(This is part 3 of a series of blogs on my learnings as an entrepreneur )
Read Part 4 here