5 Lessons from Starting A Business
Have you thought about starting your own business? Being your own boss and going on a sunny holiday to the Maldives?
Before you get too excited, let the Flicc team share with you the realities and more importantly — the lessons — that we have experienced and learnt thus far on this journey of entrepreneurship.
We hope this piece will be useful to those who:
- Are wondering what you should do in your life.
- Dread a 9 to 5 job and are tempted by the “freedom” of starting a business.
- Have an idea and are wondering if you should start a business.
- Have started a business (hooray! We’d love to hear what your lessons are. Drop us a comment below, or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lesson 1: It is tough. Don’t do it…
Yep, you read that right. The reality is not rosy. Sure, you are your own boss; but here’re some things to think about:
- How is my business going to effectively earn money?
- How am I going to earn money? Taking salary means taking money away from the business! Will that be worth it?
- How do I save money?
- What are Instagram ads? Oh, I have to do accounting too? And run business operations?
- Should I hire people to help me? Wait, can I afford to pay them?
- How am I going to get investors? Do they believe in my idea and see value in the idea?
… the list goes on.
You got to know your stuff, and you got to be a jack-of-all-trades. You may go hungry for a while because no business revenues are coming in yet. Most of the time, you will feel alone fighting the odds that you feel are stacked against you (so, it is good to find a team who can share the burden and let you feel less lonely). You got to scrimp and save, and understand that burning through loads of cash is not a sustainable option for a business.
Unless you are a crazy rich Asian/person who can afford to do so :) And unless…
Lesson 2: …unless you are truly passionate about the real problem you are solving.
There are actually two layers to this lesson.
First, starting a business, or creating a product, is really about solving a problem. If there is no problem, there is no market. The first step is to be sure that yes, this problem exists through your own research. Then, this helps to lock down the first step toward success.
Second, you’ve got to be passionate. It is a test of perseverance and commitment, and you need to ask yourself: are you willing to give up the stability of a 9 to 5 job, for a journey of uncertainty? Entrepreneurship is a 24–7 endeavour. You will be thinking about how to solve that problem better; if there is more effective solution; how your business will look like 1 month or 1 year down the road. You will be tied down — and you need to be resilient enough to push through.
Lesson 3: Do not be afraid to ask for help & advice.
There are plenty of resources and support out there, especially in Singapore which is a startup hub in itself. You may have friends who have started their own businesses — and we’re going out on a limp to assume that they will be more than happy to help as well as offer some advice when you ask (that was how it was like for us!).
The key is not to feel embarrassed, or to fear looking stupid. You will never be a know-it-all, and you have a responsibility to enrich your own knowledge in whatever way possible — reading a book, taking up lessons, or…opening your mouth to ask.
So, if you meet some difficulties, or challenges, you can:
- Get in touch with us. Drop us any entrepreneurship related questions you may have at email@example.com, and we’ll do our best to help!
- Get in touch with other entrepreneurial mentors who have impacted us in one way or another. One noteworthy mentor partner is Singapore-based TRIVE, who has a network of mentors who are experts in various fields, and always willing to help.
- Go for educational workshops or lessons to improve either a skillset, or a domain of knowledge. For example, General Assembly offers free 2 hour long skills-based workshops. You can head to Khan Academy to take free online courses as well!
Learning never stops.
Lesson 4: Be mentally prepared for failure & change.
This is a critical lesson for us. If something in a business does not work out, or is not good enough to sustain, you have a choice — to either try to find better solutions, or understand that you need to pivot (i.e. change course or strategy). You need to adapt quickly and flexibly.
You also deal with the expectations that come along your decision to start your own business. People tend to expect quick gains and overnight success. But, it is a slow and steady process. If you fail, it is up to you to decide if you want to give up now, because you can no longer handle the pressure; or press on and let your dreams eventually morph into reality.
Few people will get rich overnight. You have to work hard and be super hungry for success.
Lesson 5: If you want to start, start when you are still a student.
Allow us to throw you back to this nice article written by a fellow entrepreneur here — 4 simple reasons why you should start your business when you’re a student. It’s an insightful 3 minute read, so we hope you’ll enjoy it!
The bottomline is, you can still afford to fail and learn when you are still a young student. You have the space to try again, and people will be more accommodating of your errors. It doesn’t come twice — once you’ve ‘adulted’, you have less of a luxury of time, and less room to fail. The opportunities that come with being a student are aplenty (e.g. grants & startup incubators in schools).
So, if you are a student and you want to start a business, now is a perfect time to do so. We are sure you will learn a lot in the process.
Starting a business is not all about the glitz and glamour, looking cool, or enjoying the freedom of being your own boss. There is more to that — people often do not see the hardship and struggles of starting and sustaining a business. People only tend to look at the outcome, instead of the journey.
But, it is this journey that matters. No matter what the results are, starting a business will bring you several valuable life lessons. And, you will have an opportunity to change the world and make it a better place to live in.
Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try. Good luck!
*Note that this article is not sponsored in any form or manner by the aforementioned organisations.
Flicc is a consumer community that shares happiness through barter trade. Join the sharing movement on t.me/fliccsg today 🙌 This is part of a #TuesdayThoughts series by the Flicc team, where we pen down our thoughts related to our sharing community, happiness, and life 🎉