Here’s What You Need to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What’s something you wish you knew before starting your business?” is written by Liz Dickinson, founder and CEO of Mio Global.
When you first start a company, much of your success requires people to believe in your idea—to believe in you. You need to sell yourself, your vision, and ultimately your products. Given that my background was in business development, I felt prepared and had confidence in my relationship-building abilities. What I didn’t foresee was the sheer difficulty of scaling—the unexpected number and magnitude of challenges that would emerge, all capable of crushing my fragile startup. I knew this journey wasn’t for the faint of heart, but it has proven exponentially more difficult than I ever imagined.
Yet, in reflecting back over those early years, being prepared for the challenge ahead was not my key learning. More fundamentally, what I have learned is the importance of being strong; having that character trait of resilience, which luckily turned out to be my greatest asset.
When running a startup, you typically expect financial challenges, but they are easily underestimated. It takes significant capital to get a company up and running—particularly if you are manufacturing products. Adequate financing is one of the most important things to have in place if you want to build a world-class company.
When I was first starting my company, I spent a lot of time scrambling for funds and learning about ways to finance the business through vehicles like factoring and raising equity capital. But as I learned from experience, it would have been tremendously helpful to augment my financial skills prior to setting out on my own.
More importantly, though, is to fully realize and accept that things will happen to you as an entrepreneur that are completely out of your control. Others’ motivations change when they see your success: Suppliers will suddenly decide you’re not paying enough and stop supplying your critical components; business partners will ignore contractual terms when the size of your market opportunity finally becomes obvious to them; regulators will stop your shipments at the border; longshoremen strikes will leave your products stuck in the port. Things will happen that will leave you feeling as though you are completely and utterly alone in your battle for survival. There are moments so dark that you need to be able to draw on a deep wellspring of personal strength in order to keep moving forward.
Being a female entrepreneur has its own particular set of challenges in this regard. We have to continually prove ourselves and demonstrate that we are forces to be reckoned with. It can be exhausting. Often I describe my entrepreneurial experience as a game of “whack-a-mole.” No matter how many times I am hit over the head, I bounce up again ready to fight.
Before taking that entrepreneurial leap, ask yourself how hard you are willing to fight for your success, and just how many times you’re prepared to go another round. Ultimately, that’s what will determine whether you fail or succeed. Fully believe in yourself and your vision, and be resilient. You most certainly will not enjoy the whole climb, but the view from the top is spectacular.