5 difficulties in running a startup

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There are unspoken difficulties around running a business that most entrepreneurs don’t talk about. Maybe it’s because people tend to always focus on the positives and not dwell on the negatives but I think it’s important that the negatives are also spoke about so you are well prepared to know what you are going in for.

I have spent the last 11 years of my career in the entrepreneurship and startup space. I have ran several businesses and worked in a university based startup hub, managed a co-working space and right now, when I’m not working on Soy & Spice, I am the Associate Course Coordinator for an undergraduate course in innovation and entrepreneurship. Throughout the past 11 years, I have not only seen the struggles that other entrepreneurs have to face but also experienced them personally first hand.

Here are 5 difficulties that you should be aware of when you start your own entrepreneurial journey.

#1 Stress

Stress is almost unavoidable when you are running your own business. There is always 100 and 1 things you need to be doing and it can definitely get overwhelming. You will need to learn how to control and manage your stress throughout your entire entrepreneurship journey. The types of stress will change as your business grows. So, find ways that work for you and stick to it. I make sure that I take time out every week to mediate, which reduces my level of stress significantly. I feel that my mind is at peace when I mediate and I can focus on the present moment rather than thinking of what has happened in the past. I find even if I take out 20 mins a week to practice, it helps to clear my mind and allow me to refocus on what’s important. If you are like me, sometimes I feel guilty when I’m taking a break but know that if you burn out, you won’t be able to do anything at all, so it’s important that when you are relaxing, you fully relax.

#2 Time

This should be another obvious difficulty in running a business. The amount of time you have to dedicate in managing every aspect of a business is going to consume a lot of your waking hours. If you are like me, where you are working another job to support your startup, get use to working late into the night or waking up early just so you can fit everything into those precious hours. Being able to manage your time effectively is a must in running a successful business. I spend an hour at the end of every week planning the week ahead, so I know exactly what I will be doing on each days and not get overwhelmed with all the unnecessary tasks that could easily fill up my days. So, figure out a system that works for you and it might take trial and error to set on the right system but this will definitely set you up for success.

#3 Falling blindly in love with your idea

Your business is like a baby and it is completely normal to fall blindly in love with it because you essentially gave birth to it and are raising it. When you find yourself deep in this love, you need to step back and look at the whole picture. Like any relationship, think about where you want to go in the long term and think about how you are going to get there. What are some milestones you want to hit? What are some red flags you will look out for? What do you plan on doing when you come across them? This is not to say that you shouldn’t believe in your idea and be 100% dedicated to it- you 110% should. However, there is a fine line between having passion for your idea and falling blindly inlove with your idea. Be cautious to not step over the line.

#4 Overworking/burnout

This ties back to some of the previous points and is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. However, if you take pre-caution and are able to manage all the above well, the chances of you burning out will be significantly reduced. However, if you struggle to manage things like stress and time, you will run yourself to the ground and it will take you twice or even three times the amount of time to recover. Make sure that you are exercising, eating well and maintaining healthy social interactions to stop yourself from burning out.

#5 Managing your finances

Running a business requires capital. You need to be smart on how you spend and invest your money so you can get the most return on every dollar.

With this said, you need to be prepared to spend money in order to earn money, but the trick is to know your limit and not go down a dark hole and spend all your savings. You need to come up a financial management system that works for you and stick with it. I set a monthly budget and a financial forecast plan to ensure that I am meeting my target and that I am not going over budget. Tools like Xero or Zoho will allow you to track your financial performance, good old Excel will also do the trick.

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