We all love a good rags to riches story, so shows like Shark Tank that glorify the coming-from-nothing and becoming wildly successful are exceedingly popular with most Americans who grew up hearing all about the “American dream”. While we all fancy ourselves capable of starting from scratch on main street and envy the thought of being our own boss, most who haven’t lived a day in an entrepreneur’s shoes have no real idea of what owning your own business is really like. We definitely don’t get much in the way of reality from popular media, so here it is, for the entrepreneurial-hopeful among you – what the “American dream” is really like.
The vast majority of entrepreneurs have failed – multiple times. To truly succeed in this game you need to have the tenacity to get back up, dust yourself off and try again. If you have that tenacity, then this is the life for you.
Start-ups are extremely risky. You are betting on an unproven model in an unproven location. Less than one in four start-ups make it to their 5th anniversary, so if you want to give business ownership a try (with a bit less risk), buy an existing business instead. Buying existing does not mean guaranteed success, it just means the model, location, operating procedures and staff have been tested. It’s simply a better starting point for the new entrepreneur.
New customers are not going to line up around the block or beat down your door because you tied a banner out front that reads “under new management”. A great entrepreneur is never satisfied with the status quo and is always looking for new ways to grow their business. What if you’re not a marketing guru? Become one. Learn how to take advantage of social media, join networking groups, make your business a part of local community events – the list goes on. Businesses that thrive find new and creative ways to grow, and the best business owners learned what works by trying (and trying again) until something sticks.
The hours are not fun. Business ownership is not going to mean that you only work from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday with four weeks of vacation throughout the year. If that free-time stability is what you want for your life, then stay at your current job. Entrepreneurship means that the buck stops with you and you alone. If something has to be done, if your entire staff comes down with the flu, if it’s peak season and the business will be packed – you have to work. The hours are long, but the trade off is knowing that you are in control of your own life and all of this work doesn’t benefit someone else – it benefits you.
You probably won’t make millions and millions. The Sharks on Shark Tank are like the NFL Hall of Fame-r’s of entrepreneurs, while the vast majority of business owners are like every kid who ever played football and aspired to make it to the “big time”. You can have a very successful and fulfilling life as a business owner without ever becoming a billionaire investor, so the quicker you set your sights on more realistic financial expectations, the better.
If you have the grit and determination to keep trying, to constantly learn new ways to grow and the drive to work the hours your business needs – then perhaps business ownership is for you. Start your search for an existing business by talking to an experienced and knowledgeable business broker about your past experience and what your goals for business ownership would be. They will be able to help match you with business opportunities that will get you where you want to go. And you won’t even have to survive a pitch to the Sharks.
Have you considered buying a business, but you aren’t sure that business ownership is for you? Do you have questions about what types of businesses are currently available? Ask us! Leave a comment or a question here.
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