Articles

Your Own Small Business Dream - Be Careful What You Wish For.

We live in times that conspire to create the belief in people that they should follow their dreams no matter how unrealistic, no matter how self-centered, no matter the consequences. Without following your dreams and waking each day filled with the passion of doing what you love – so the self-help gurus promote – nobody’s life can possibly be fulfilled. And one of the most common and passionately held dreams is the one of being your own boss.

Small pause for a reality check.

Every year in Australia more than 320,000 new businesses are born. According to a study conducted over the period between 1961 and 1990 – based on retail businesses in 51 Australian shopping centers – Newsweek magazine concluded that 64.2% of those new businesses fail and one in every twenty results in bankruptcy. Of those that survive many do not see the promised-land that they had envisaged and constantly wrestle with the harsh realities of managing to keep a business operating profitably.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not a bubble buster. I believe in dreams and following them. Without dreamers and those who dared to do something about them, we’d still be living in caves and eating uncooked McRodents with their matted fur for extra fibre. Starting up a small business in retail just needs some of that very rare commodity – uncommon sense.

There are five things you must consider in ‘rationalising’ your dream and they are embedded in the word S.M.A.L.L.:-
S – strategy
M – management
A – attitude
L – listening
L – leverage

Strategy means that you must create a plan covering all the details and actions you will need to follow to breath life into the idea and operate it. Management is the building and direction of capabilities including time, capital, cash and resources – as a rule of thumb double what you think you need for every input. Attitude is about understanding yourself, your psychological makeup and using self-awareness to firstly ensure you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and secondly to be an inspirational leader. Listening is the skill of assembling and listening to the advice of experienced people you trust to keep you grounded and heading in the right direction. And leverage is about building robustness and uniqueness into your business model to gain competitive advantage. Tick off all of the above and you have something to work with.

I run my own (very) small business. I love it and I mentor entrepreneurs. But running a small business is detailed work, it feeds a healthy level of paranoia and there are no magic fixes or easy rides along the way. It thrives on energy and lots of it. Dare to dream. Back yourself. But don’t kill your dream before it has had time to grow from a seed to a healthy plant. Be prepared for what it will really take to succeed by planning and resourcing it appropriately. Doing your homework is the fertilizer that will help it survive the manure others will dump on it later.