Starting your own business means having to stay the course


Shifting patterns: A file photo of office workers at the Facebook office in California. More millennials are opting out of corporate careers to start their own businesses. — AP Photo

RUNNING a business is like a dream come true for many millennials. Like a relationship that’s gone stale, they are breaking up with the corporate nine-to-five to become their own bosses.

But when caught in the whirlpool of inevitable issues that happen when running a business, one cannot stop the feelings of regret from creeping up.

You may not have any income for the first six months to a year, and all you’d have earned would be a plump pair of hammocks under your eyes through many sleepless nights developing your precious business.

It can be a lonely world when one ventures solo. Sometimes the four walls seem to cave in, and you think you hear voices of discouragement and pessimism.

I have met some Malaysian startups in Australia, and while every one of them are at different stages of their business, they all agree that while everyone sees the end product, few appreciate the arduous, behind-the-scene struggle with details, operational issues, customer behaviour and being misinterpreted by others.

I am also beginning to understand this as I am running my business in hand-drawing and designing fitness apparel for women.

Support system: Small businesses like this barber shop in Malaysia can find support in business networks and associations.
Support system: Small business like this barber shop in Malaysia can find support in business network and associations.

The hours don’t seem long enough to complete the myriad tasks on your “To Do” list, because there is always a lot more that pops up unexpectedly.

I, sometimes, become so absorbed in the detail, I become dangerously obsessive.

That feeling of an imminent popping of vein could be because of frustration at the misunderstanding between you and manufacturer/supplier, or other obstacles encountered along the way. But there’s nobody to talk to and vent — except those four walls.

If you are on this entrepreneurial journey and already hearing voices, fear not, as the only voice you would need to hear now is the voice of sanity.

Having to deal with things alone is challenging, but it doesn’t always have to be this way.

Here’s what you can do to alleviate the loneliness.

Network

Join business networks.

While those four walls will always be there, it’s probably healthier to build relationships with real people who have start-ups either through meet-ups or social media.

These people are entrepreneurs, and you can all share your stories about starting businesses.

These stories might not be exactly the same, but they will be similar.

Doing this is not only therapeutic, but healthy because you make friends, network and can put your brand name out there.

You may even receive helpful tips and leads for growing your business and you return likewise.

It’s a win-win situation and you never know what may come out of it.

Find support

It helps if you have supporting parents, friends or partner.

After all, they are the ones who spend most of the time with you and see your bloodshot eyes as you labour through the nights.

While they have their own lives, they’ll try to listen to and encourage you, and take you out for a meal when it’s time to get out of the house. But please don’t dump all your problems on them and treat your loved ones like therapists.

While most business owners like the self-gratification of doing everything themselves, there’ll be times when they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand.

After all, teamwork will strengthen the relationship and also give both parties a better understanding of the entrepreneurial trials and tribulations.

Use persuasion

When someone enthusiastically expresses interest in your product or service, don’t jump the gun and say “Ok, it’s XXX dollars. Paying by cash or credit?”

Because then, the only thing you’d hear in return would be the sound of silence.

When people praise your business, it doesn’t mean that they’ll invest in your product. They key is gentle probing.

Have a conversation and say things like: “Oh, thank you! Which feature do you like? It will suit your lifestyle. This product does flatter you! Did you know that it was made in the Alps by winged gorillas?”

The aim of this “conversation” is to pique their interest and hopefully land a sale — especially if your goods were really made in the Alps by winged gorillas.

People will always have something to say — good, bad and nonsensical.

Smile at naysayers Listen to them constructively, and while it’s nice to hear good things, you have to take the good with the bad.

Sieve out the negativity. It’s tempting to respond defensively, but it’d only be detrimental to you.

The best response is a smile, a nod and a “Thanks for your feedback, I’ll look into it.” Done.

Then you can think about what you’d say to them in a world with no ramifications. But don’t entertain those thoughts for too long.

Take care of yourself

It’s normal to be sedentary for 24 hours when you’re sitting all day focusing on the meticulous details to complete that 100th task (for the day).

Regular exercise is good for you — we all know that.

It gets your blood and oxygen flowing, releasing feel good hormones endorphins, improves memory, regulates your appetite and tightens up those tired gluteus muscles.

While your business is important, your health is even more so, because if you’re sick or tired, you’re not going to work.

Health is wealth!

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