5 things NOT to expect when launching your business
In 2016 we left paid employment and started our own company. We posted a good first year return and we are proud of the work we have put out. I was asked to put together a few words of advice based on our experience for those who might also consider leaving employment and start their own business. So here are a few things not to expect:
1 — [Do not expect] the universe to align
For some people, the thought of leaving steady paid employment can be a big hurdle to clear. Life gets in the way: changes in living costs, relationships and other uncertainty can derail your glowing business idea before you even get going.
This might come as good or bad news, but there’s never a perfect time to launch. Trust your gut — it’s likely you’ll know when it feels like the wrong time or opportunity, but there’s no guarantee of a sign that it’ll feel right.
We had our first conversations about launching Provius whilst working on a project for another business. This is how many businesses start — especially digital businesses — with likeminded people looking to break out on their own. It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of a ‘happy path’, where the universe aligns, where your new customers will be onboard and your notice periods will synchronise — but in reality this rarely happens.
2 — [Do not expect] it to be a guaranteed success
We love a good start-up success story. But whilst business owners will rarely tell you negative stories, statistics show that only 44% of new businesses last more than 5 years.
This isn’t meant to panic you or put you off! But it’s worth bearing in mind, and approaching your business with both a short-term mindset, as well as simultaneously building the long-term vision.
Here’s how we at Provius see it: every day and every month that we’re in business, we learn and we grow. And should we need to go back to full-time employment one day, we’ll be far better for the experience, and draw upon these experiences when working for our new employers.
3 — [Do not expect] someone to do all the boring stuff for you
It’s nice to think we can just ‘pay away the pain’ and get someone else to do the boring / painful / time-consuming work for you, but for most start-ups, it’s hard to do this without spending more money than is necessary and becoming reliant on services you probably didn’t need.
Admin is the least glamorous part of running your own business, but it’s undeniably important. In our experience, both cheap advice is expensive and expensive advice is expensive. When it came to accounting, we learned the hard way that by taking on some of the admin ourselves, we were much more informed about our business, and were able to save money in the right places and spend money on advice where it was most important.
At Provius, we use Xero for all of our bookkeeping and payroll, and use Tide — a modern, digital business account. This combination of Tide and Xero allows us to capture and tag all of our receipts in the app, and then reconcile them directly to Xero. We’ve been able to keep our admin tasks to a minimum, whilst maintaining a good understanding of what we can and should do with our money.
4 — [Do not expect] investors to throw themselves at you
There are plenty of startup newsletters and bulletin boards with daily news of startups who have raised capital, likely at levels of capital you can only dream of when planning your new business. But whilst it can seem like there is unlimited money available to invest in your ideas, the truth is that investment can be a mirage. Like a mirage in the desert, you may end up spending your time and money never to reach the investment on the horizon.
Many small businesses do need an injection of cash to help them reach viability, and good staff come with a market value that they cannot drop simply to support your idea or new business. So it’s a good idea to prove your concept as quickly and cheaply as possible — perhaps even before setting up your company — and then to start having conversations about financing with the right people as early as possible.
5 — [Do not expect] an easy mental journey
The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” has been around for decades. And for most people starting a new business, it can be just as lonely. Paid employment, especially in large organisations can be comforting, and you’re surrounded by colleagues and peers who often share your values and are in similar positions in life. When you become an entrepreneur, you’ll likely lose all of that. It’s tough — and clients can’t be expected to fill the void of colleagues.
You can find companionship in other entrepreneurs and small business owners, who you may come across at co-working spaces, shared offices or start-up meetups. Reach out to your friends and family for support, or sign up to some of the great services like Sanctus, who are bringing coaching and mental health to the workplace.
We started as co-founders of the business and whilst this brings pros and cons it is very important in how we support each other and are able to use our mixed skill-set. You should give serious consideration to people you know and meet and look for compatibility and opportunities. I am very surprised in all the years there have been online dating websites, dating coaches and speed dating sessions that this has not been widely adopted by the startup community. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they exist and would love to check it out.
If you are considering leaving employment and starting up please get in touch we are always looking to expand our network of contacts and talk to other new businesses.