The Challenges of Entrepreneurship: Be Aware, the Road to Success May be Slow By Chataun Denis
One of my fellow bloggers discussed the notion of positive thinking not being the end-all-be-all cure. I completely agree. As an entrepreneur, things are not going to go as expected all the time. If you are new to entrepreneurship, you are likely to underestimate the start up process and overestimate your benchmark of success. What I mean is your eagerness and passion for your product may cloud your vision to the realities of the challenges of starting a business from the ground up.
Lacking experience in starting a business, you just are unsure of what to expect. You can have the best business plan, top rate market research, and a phenomenal marketing strategy, but there still will be unexpected challenges. I firmly recommend not quitting your day job. Starting a business and generating sufficient income to pay yourself a full time salary is quite the challenge, especially, if you’re working with very little start up funds. Because I work with entrepreneurs interested in starting a nonprofit, and in most cases, they have no money, no business plan, and no idea how to run a nonprofit, I make them aware in the very beginning that quitting their day job in the near or distant future is likely not going to happen.
For the last couple of weeks, during my time of introspection, I have been conflicted and disappointed by my lack of external results. Yes, I have made some progress, but not the progress I had hoped for when starting 2 1/2 years ago. This disappointment has caused me to grow weary of theories about positive thinking. We hear from motivational speakers that positive thinking is the key that unlocks the door to success. What they fail to add in many cases, is that it is not the only key. I am learning that the door to success has several locks with positive thinking being one. Other keys that determine success are: patience (because success doesn't occur overnight) and determination (the will to keep going when doubt arises, and more than likely it will).
The last four months have been an emotional rollercoaster of uncertainty. Marketing is proving to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. And, because I have a menial budget to work with, I have to resort to the less costly and free marketing avenues. Because these products are free they are very time-consuming; time that could be spent accumulating billable hours. However time consuming if I want to stay in business, investing time in marketing is critical.
I am grateful to still be in business despite recent economic events that have negatively affected so many. I am fortunate to have realized success for two consecutive years and if I am to survive a third, I must go well beyond positive thinking. I must constantly be looking for ways to adapt my business model with ever-changing market conditions. As a consultant to nonprofits, my previous model emphasized grant writing fees as my primary source of income. After the wall-street crash in 2008 it became apparent that this model would not withstand the volatility of the economy. As a consequence of sharp declines in portfolio values, foundations and corporations are unable to provide charitable contributions at the levels they had before.
The mantra that I preach to my clients, "Diversify Your Fundraising Strategy" applies to for-profits and nonprofits alike. Whether it's maintaining current levels or reaching new levels of success for your business, you must evolve with the market. If your programs are no longer working, change the model. Our survival at the end of 2010 is going to require of us greater mental tenacity, perseverance, and innovation. Our ability to be resourceful and efficient during this economic evolution will determine our existence or nonexistence at the end of the next 9 months.