As an entrepreneur just starting out, you want everything to be perfect, in line, and in order. After all, you have wanted to own your own business for years, you have reviewed the options, planned how you would go about it, imagined yourself as a business owner, and put it all on paper. You start lining up your lawyers, accountants, key contractors, and web site. You even research laws, target markets and business types, before walking proudly up the steps to the Secretary of State's office to register your business name, and make it official. That's when it hits you.
It's not on your way into the Secretary of State's office, but on your way out, as you are holding that registered document in your hand that says 'I own a business', that you begin to feel both the excitement and anxiety of this privilege. As an entrepreneur, I admit that very little can truly prepare you for your first year as a business owner. It is a complex path of important decisions and unexpected pressure, but it is also an opportunity to mold an idea, a vision, into a work of art, as long as you are willing to trust your own good judgment.
Once you finally cross the threshold into business ownership there is almost a slight pause, a moment in time, before you begin to feel the inevitable pressure. After all, now that you have a business you are immediately expected to perform, be successful, and make money, right? It's funny, because even though you knew this before, it doesn't quite hit you, until after you have that piece of paper in your hand that makes it official.
And chances are, so much of your mental energy to this point has been spent preparing to start your business, that you haven't had the opportunity to fully imagine the next step. Well it's time to catch your breath, because the next year as an entrepreneur will probably be a roller coaster ride of pitfalls and figurative avalanches, coupled with moments of victory and excitement as you learn lessons, accomplish goals and set new goals for future growth.
The first year of business ownership can be the most critical. It is when you lay the foundation and learn to look at things in a different way. You see potential where you may not have noticed it before. You mature as a person, and at the same time, your business begins to take shape, even if only in your own mind. Sometimes what you start with is not the end result, because the decisions you make along the way, mold and dictate the direction of your business.
I believe that one of the most important moments in a business owner's career is, when they determine the level of risk that they are willing to withstand in order to grow. This, like a rite of passage, inevitably determines what the business will become. It is true that important decisions must be made in all business ventures, but the risk factor can be the most critical and the most distressing. Do I buy this property, do I invest in a new creative product, do I sign a contract that may or may not serve me well in the future, am I willing to put myself out there for others to scrutinize?
Some people will tell you that over-thinking these decisions is unnecessary, they walk blindly into risk without question; I am not one of those people. In my opinion, if you have a business worth growing, then it's worth the contemplation. After all, by making these decisions, by facing these decisions, you are defining your boundaries, and therefore strengthening the foundation that you have worked so hard to build.
The most difficult part of owning a business is relying on your own good judgment. Advisors can spend hours talking to you about risks, about possible outcomes, about laws and potential dangers, but ultimately it is you that must make the decision, and you who will have to live by it. It may be the product of many sleepless nights, stressful days and unbearable frustration, but that is why it is your rite of passage, and your opportunity for success.