The Olympics of small business
IF YOU haven't heard by now, the Olympics are in full flight and late-night TV is suddenly rating very highly.
It is inspiring to see the results of years of passion and hard work being rewarded for the successful athletes.
Running a business is somewhat like becoming an Olympic athlete, and here are nine reasons why:
1. Passion is not enough.
The most passionate athlete will not succeed without significant training and a good dose of natural talent, and the same is true of small businesses.
I sometimes meet with very passionate potential (or existing) small business owners who sincerely believe in the concept of their business, but for various reasons the business is simply not viable.
Often these reasons are outside their control - but the end result is that they become passionate failures.
2. You need to understand the cost.
Many potential Olympic athletes start out on the journey to become elite, only to find that the cost in terms of time, dollars and emotions is simply too high.
Similarly, small business owners need to understand that there is a cost of owning and operating a small business that goes beyond the responsibilities faced by someone in a normal nine-to-five job. This cost comes in many shapes and sizes - it could be an effect on your family, your quality of life and potentially your finances.
All of the above need to be factored into the decision to start (or continue in) a small business. Often the emotional cost is the least understood and the greatest cost of all.
3. A trial lap never hurt anyone.
Have you seen the diving events yet? I'm willing to bet that nobody starts off on the 10 metre platform without more than a few jumps from a much lower height.
If you're thinking of starting a small business, don't dive in from the 10m platform - give it a trial first if you can, before you put all your eggs in that basket! We've all heard stories of successful business owners who have dived off the deep end and lived to tell the tale - but this is not without good luck and good management.
Sadly these are the exceptions, and not the rule. Starting your small business with nothing to fall back on may be exhilarating, but it is also extremely risky. Don't break your neck on the first dive!
4. Make sure the rewards exceed the cost.
Every successful Olympic athlete will tell you that the reward "was worth all the effort", but at the start of their Olympic journey, very few athletes will measure the effort required and the potential rewards.
A potential small business owner does not have this luxury - they must know the costs of running the business and the necessary rewards to make it worthwhile. This requires careful planning and forecasting - usually best done with an expert's help.
Now I am aware that we've only covered four points - so stay tuned for the medal round next week! In the meantime, set your DVR and get some sleep, okay?