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Getting Down To Business: So you think you want to start a business?

This is our first post for this segment, and its one that I’m excited to write about. Ever since I started VC Dry Goods, I’ve run into people that talk about how they’d love to start a business but don’t know how or what they’d do, or they wonder how I did this or that with my business. With Getting Down To Business, I’m going to answer those questions. I’m going to share my experiences launching my business and getting it to the point where it is now. I’m not claiming to be an expert business advisor, I’m far from that, but I have managed to steer my business around some pitfalls, and I’ve also made some mistakes along the way - mistakes that hopefully you won’t make if I share my story. So let’s get started.

This week’s topic: So you think you want to start a business?

Our society has definitely come to revere business and business owners. In many ways, owning a business is the most basic form of the American Dream. The general idea is this: you come up with an idea, turn it into a product or service, make a bunch of money, never answer to anyone again. You get to work for yourself, stick it to “the man,” and get to live the good life. That may be how owning a business is romanticized, and that may even be how some people say it is, but the reality is different. It’s hard, in every way you can imagine and many ways you can’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love being an entrepreneur and I love owning my own business. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but you need to know what you’re getting into before you make the jump.

I have said on many occasions that I think everyone should own a business. I think it is the only way to be truly independent. You don’t have to worry about being laid off, bad bosses, even rush hour on some occasions. However, that feeling has a big caveat: not everyone wants to own a business or can handle owning a business. That last part may seem mean, but I’m being honest. I’m being honest because when you are running your business and you’re facing problems, you - alone, in many cases - have to handle them. You can’t pass the buck or blame someone else. Also, if it doesn’t work out, when you have an empty bank account and bills you need to pay, the creditors and/or investors on your doorstep aren’t going to be any nicer. Running a business takes a lot out of you. You have to be able to handle stress well, work long hours, solve problems, and have tons of self-discipline, among other things. That doesn’t mean you have to be superhuman, or a genius. That may help, but I know that I am neither of those things and I’ve made it work so far. More than anything, you have to be willing to learn and to adapt. Never stop learning: read books, ask for advice, look at what others have done, be nosey - just don’t stop learning. Study your competitors, read about new developments in your field, know everything you can because your business depends on it. As for adapting, if your first business model isn’t working too well, change it. Keep adjusting it until it does work. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

If all of this seems like a lot to take in, or a lot to deal with, that’s because it is. Before you take the leap and launch your business, you need to think about all of that for yourself. Are you willing to do what it takes? Only you can figure that out because you have to be honest with yourself. Maybe you haven’t been the hardest worker, or maybe you haven’t been the best at handling stress in the past. That doesn’t mean you can’t cut it, but that does mean that you have to acknowledge whatever it is and be willing to change. You have to be willing to fight for your business and rise to the occasion.

If any of this sounds like more work than you’re willing to put in, then maybe starting a business isn’t for you. If all of this sounds like a challenge that you want to take on, then join the club and get moving. After all, whatever concept you have in mind, if you don’t make it happen then someone else will.

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