Starting your own business is no piece of cake! Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak or faint-hearted!
Owning your own business can be just as rewarding as it is challenging and also one of the best decisions you can ever make because you can make a living doing what you love, find better work/life balance with your family, and have a chance to earn more than you would working for someone else, building something that’s all yours. But! Yes there’s a BUT! There is the flip side to it, which I am beginning to face now, like, overworking that might lead to burn out, working 20 hours instead of the normal 8 hours! Dealing with an uncertain income and especially difficulty with getting deals sealed. And that is the one aspect I want to write about.
You send your proposal out and best news ever! A potential client has scheduled an in-person meeting with you to discuss their needs and how you might be able to help them. You are excited!
You can smell the moolah!
You are just one step to sealing that deal, one step to getting it signed off and one step to receiving your first payment!
Then comes the waiting stage, that is, the time between ‘after the first meeting’ and ‘getting the deal signed’! This stage is the hardest part- the waiting.
Sending the proposal and getting called to meet with the client don’t take too long to come together, in fact they happen so fast! But the period after the meeting leading to the signing of the deal, is the hardest part for any new entrepreneur! So! What do you do during the gap (after the meeting and then having the deal signed, sealed and getting the alert from the bank of money deposited)?
Ish! I always have the feeling that I am being a nuisance when I follow-up but like I always tell my sister who runs her own business too- what’s the worst that can happen? The potential client says “No Deal”! At least after the rejection you are released from the constant worrying and waiting! If your proposal hasn’t been rejected yet, what next?
Send and send and send follow-up emails. Ermm … no reply!
Call and they say they’ll call you back…. and you sit by the phone hoping they’ll call soon.
They’ve written back! But wait, they want to bargain your price!
It’s going to happen a lot of times. But I am learning to know when to compromise and NOT SELL MYSELF SHORT! Thing is, I know how much time and effort I am going to put into the job, so it will be a crime to shoot myself in the foot. In fact, sometimes saying no to a client is a much better choice than giving them what they want. Sometimes you have to simply walk away.
Yep- WALK AWAY! Walk away respectfully, with your head high, no matter how bad you want the job.
Another important thing I’m learning is that I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. While I’m waiting for that deal to be signed, while I’m waiting for that first payment to get into my account, while I’m waiting for that MOU to be signed, I should be looking for other opportunities and sending out proposals. Somebody is bound to say yes and sign the deal without hesitation because they’ll see how awesome I am at what I do and trust that I will do a perfect job for them!
So, I’m going to start preaching now!
When you feel disappointed and it feels like all your hard work is not paying off, and all you want to do is throw in the towel, decide to look for a “real job”, throw your laptop on the wall or compromise by doing something really unethical- DON’T GIVE UP YET!
You want to take your company from good to great but then it doesn’t seem to even move into the good zone yet- DON’T GIVE UP YET!
Starting and building your own company is not for the faint of heart but DON’T – STOP – BELIEVING – IN – YOUR – DREAM. In the book ‘Good to Great: why some companies make the leap and some don’t’, practice what is called “the Stockdale Paradox”:
“You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. -Jim Collins
DON’T GIVE UP! As cliché as that might sound, this is what I repeat to myself when I really want to lose it or I fear that I will fail. I am then reminded that this is the early stages. Building a company from nothing to great is not a walk in the park. It is challenging carving out a market for yourself in a world where there are a thousand entrepreneurs in your field fighting to be heard. But with perseverance, consistency and quality service, you’ll attract the right customer who will be willing to pay your price.
“Those who built the good-to-great companies weren’t motivated by fear. They weren’t driven by fear of what they didn’t understand. They weren’t driven by fear of looking like a chump. They weren’t driven by fear of watching others hit it big while they didn’t. They weren’t driven by the fear of being hammered by the competition. No, those who turn good into great are motivated by a deep creative urge and an inner compulsion for sheer unadulterated excellence for its own sake. Those who build and perpetuate mediocrity, in contrast, are motivated more by the fear of being left behind.”-Jim Collins
So, pray tell, what are the major challenges you face as an entrepreneur and how do you deal with it. I would really, really love to hear about it because you’d be helping a sistah out!
Recommended Reading: Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and some don’t. You can shop online from Hidden Treasures Bookstore in Nigeria for ₦4,150.00.