Reality check for entrepreneurs

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So you've started your business, but you're really struggling to come to terms with how difficult it is.

Those sales projections in your business plan are looking increasingly out of touch with the reality of securing orders.

York Zucchi, a Swiss entrepreneur who has built a pan-African business in the primary healthcare sector, offers the following reality checks to budding entrepreneurs: Forget about making a lot of money quickly. The reality is that it is highly unlikely you will. It takes time ... lots of time, lots of hard work, long hours and most probably more tears than you care to shed.

This is the reality, so don’t overdramatize when things are going badly. This is all part of your entrepreneurial adventure. As with any long journey, there are uphills and downhills. Bring perspective to your journey and don’t simply throw in the towel when things aren't going as you intended.

Don't expect to make 'perfect' decisions, which means you shouldn't beat yourself over the head for making mistakes. These are a natural progression of your development as an entrepreneur. Rather make the best decision you can, and roll it with.

Avoid becoming that person with a list of businesses as long as your arm. People tend to not take these jacks-of-all-trades very seriously - quality overrides quantity any day of the week. Rather focus on what you're good at, and stick to it.

Realize that people you engage with are equally busy and that you're likely but one meeting/idea on their table. The reality is that you are more than likely not their priority.

Key takeaway: When things are not going as you'd expected, the responsibility rests on you to find a way to make things work. Simply sitting back and complaining is not going to solve your problems. Get up, brush yourself off and get on with the business of being an entrepreneur.

 

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44 comments
    We also need to be creative in how we do business and treat this as just another challenge in our businesses. There is always another way around a challenge - you just have to think harder and work harder.
    Thecashflowguy please share the title of the book and its author as it would be helpful to look it up. Having said that I just need to add that reading stories of other entrepreneurs can be very helpful. Finding their autobiographies biographies and even watching their documentaries are all part of immersing oneself in knowledge necessary to inspire you when the chips are down. This thing called entrepreneurship requires patience.
    That is very clever thecashflowguy Scheduling reminders is IT!. Use technology to set up reminders - well in this case reality checks. these can be done in many different ways. One of the ways I enjoy is a morning check - in and going home check out. It is amazing what you can achieve in terms of measuring your reality on the basis of your team's input.
    In a nutshell then to my mind as the owner of a small business the reality checks revolve around the totality of your business. Should not be a negative connotation but even in Boom time! Key aspects to reality evaluation are; cash flow - careful management always critical business operating plan - reference guide to check that that you are on the real path you planned originally for your business (especially areas of sales marketing cash management and admin) persevere- tough times can offer opportunities to committed entrepreneurs
    Yes please share the name. I find that reading books like that give me a different perspective and inspire me to look at my business challenges more clearly - it really helps sometimes to take a helicopter view although it's difficult to take a step back and look into your business as though you were a 3rd party. Any thoughts?
    okey dokey will have to go dig it out ...
    Another important reality check is around your time management. As entrepreneurs we delegate badly! (It's easier just todo it myself). Delegating is an easy thing to do but very difficult to implement. Need to be aware of the benefits. Delegation does not however mean abdication. You still need to maintain checks and balances. It's easy to be busy reality is that we need to be productively busy (like a bee not a mosquito).
    Found it... book title is How they started in tough times author is David Lester. I probably bought my copy at Exclusive Books
    Thecashflowguy agreed the upside is that one may have a more experienced pool of potential staff to pull from once retrenched. And another way to look at it is that there may be more entrepreneurs contesting to capture the same market you are in. These are people who have had the experience in a corporation and may have a sense of being responsible in a work place. Their disposition is that of being self driven meeting deadlines working to schedule etc. I often say to young people who want to start businesses - there are two ways you can do this and both ways are not easy - the first is to gain as much expertise in the chosen industry as possible which means work for somebody else and earn the necessary experience and identify the gap. Go start you thing. The second way is to just jump into it and learn on the job. None is easy it requires the same amount of courage resilience and perseverance.
    True! Points well made. To add to those I have to say that I prefer self-driven people and self-starters these kinds of people are able to take delegated tasks with such ease otherwise delegating to someone who needs constant supervision is time consuming in itself. I think this places importance at recruiting level. Processes have to be thorough to get the right people. What I have also managed to do because I am really a small outfit I delegate work through farming it out to other service providers who specialize in expertise I need to support me and should I have too much on my plate I pass it on to them. Their turn around time is so fast and they produce good quality work it makes me look good in turn. Right!
    Checking out the big boys doing retrenchments may make an entrepreneur a bit nervous but on the upside.... there will be a lot more staff to choose from ??Reality checks need not necessarily from a negative perspective
    So agree with you PhindileXaba!! I did exactly that - came from a big corporate and joined my current business partner on a 6 month contract nearly 11 years ago and I've never looked back... He is a great mentor to me which definitely helps and we have navigated the ups and downs of this business journey together which has not always been easy but it has been infinitely rewarding! So go for it guys!!
    Just want to share this story of patience from an amazing entrepreneur. I had the pleasure of following the story of an American publication called The Atlantic which had been hemorrhaging for years. After 154 years about to fold its owner Mort Zuckerman finally let go of it sold it to a very seasoned entrepreneur David Bradley for a mere $10 million as far back as in 1999 remember what was happening in 1998? Digital had started to take off print publications were experiencing serious economic challenges. In its first year Bradley ran at a loss of $4.5 million (this is in dollars right?). By the time Bradley relocated The Atlantic's headquarters from Boston to Washington D.C. in 2005 he had lost so many millions on the venture with losses soaring as high as $8 million in 2002 alone. He soldiered on. He recruited James Bennet from New York Times in 2006 and Jeffrey Goldberg from New Yorker in 2007 respectively who both brought their corporate expertise into the business and drove it from a digital first business strategy. And the cherry on top was Justin Smith who was on the verge of being laid off (retrenched) from a publication The Week he was an advocate of investing in online products. The long and short of it is that for the first time after 12 years or so in 2010 the publication made US$1.8million in revenues within four years of implementing the innovative digital strategy. The Moral of the Anecdote: PATIENCE RESILLIENCE PERSEVERENCE INNOVATION AND SUPPORT STAFF WITH EXPERTISE THAT SERVE THE BUSINESS
    I was in a discussion yesterday where I mentioned that there seems to be a trend to diss business plans and just go out and start the business. I sincerely believe in the second option[no more analysis paralysis please] BUT with a properly thought out business plan. Doesnt have to be a 50 page document but should address the basics such as marketing andsales strategy cash flow needs and a basic admin process
    Just wondering though.... howdid he afford a dishwasher.??... probably part of the business equipment :)
    What an amazing story!! Certainly has inspired me this morning...
    What do you mean by this thecashflowguy?
    also maybe we can negotiate better deals from suppliers better interest rates from financial institutions maybe companie sare getting of redundant equipment that we can pick up for cheaper than normal?
    Back to the staff reality thing.... one of the matters that we as entrepreneurs seem to battle with is the finding of good staff. You are only as good as your support staff the engine room of the business. As good as you may be at marketing and selling and manufacturing if your admin is not up to speed you will create hassles for yourself of biblical proportions.... reality check #1- get your admin up to speed
    Michela I always go back to this story when all chipsare down. Sometimes when you know enough about your core business you need other people's help to accomplishyour dream.
    apart from all the red tape small business has to comply with in order to be clear certain politicians do things that make the rest of the world doubt RSA Inc. This leads to downgrading of the country leads to ncertainty and probable interest rate hikes increase in fuel price retrenchments etc etc. We have a Small Business Minister (I think) but I dont seem to hear of or notice much change of attitude to entrpreneurs. Maybe I am missing something?
    an owner of one ofthe smaller now succesful succesful companies was evicted from his house due to non-payment of rent lived in his business premises and used a dishwasher and hosepipe to bathe!
    True that! Good relations with suppliers is very important they will advance you the goods you do your business work out a COD with your client pay your supplier and keep what is due to your business. Voila! You realize that you didn’t have to incur any capital outlay upfront. This reminds of a story of a 20year old (he was that old when I first met him some three years ago). He made arrangements with a supplier of off-season trendy sneakers which were very much in season in South Africa they advanced him the consignment and he had 30 days to pay off. The consignment didn't even have a warehouse it went straight to his client who ran a retail store paid COD he then paid his supplier and he was in business. He now builds skateboarding parks and continues to do the same with skateboards and skateboarding apparel.
    If it's going to be it's up to me! That's reality. But there is an African proverb that we would all be taking note of goes something like this if you want to go fast go alone but if you intend going far go with a crowd (team)! Cheers
    Absolutely they need good PR because I think this is a fantastic initiative and had never heard of it until now PhindileXaba!! Thanks for sharing that :)
    Most probably part of the business equipment. Or may have have moved with his/her belongings because eviction doesn't mean leave your stuff behind. Rights?!?
    Talking about cash flow :) Another thing that may happen during a reality check is an entrepreneur may be tempted to/or need funding to establish or expand..... be careful of giving away too much equity in your busienss in the quest for cash. Very often it is difficult to buy that equity back from the investor. Try othe roptions first e.g bartering loans preferred terms extension of creditor payment periods factoring etc etc
    that is what i also have in my mind that i should not concentrate on making a lot of money but on getting potential clients.
    ??
    Admin is everything. A well rounded skilled administrator who is trainable to undertsnad the core of your business is a gift because your business can run optimally even when you are off site.