What Does It Take To Make a Business Successful?

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” - Ross Perot

I can’t agree more. I run across people who want to start their own business all of the time. Sometimes I even hire them (typically a bad idea). Most people have no idea how much hard work and time it takes to create a new business. In most cases I think it is impossible to start seeing returns before the first year (if you are getting returns before then it is likely you are not investing enough of your money or time in the venture). Most people are not prepared to work long or hard enough to make their business viable. The ones who are usually succeed.

Ironically, by the time things seem hopeless and you begin to think about getting a job your business is usually poised to start working. Most people start to argue with their partners, friends and family at this point and they are focused almost exclusively on failure. Called negative target acquisition, this phenomenon ensures that you will fail. If, instead, you can keep focusing on making the business work you have a good chance of success after the first 12 months.

Why? There are a million reason why, but here are three:

  • Most clients don’t take you seriously during your first 12 months. There will be lots of potential clients that will wait in the wings to see if your company is going to make it.
  • It is likely you won’t even know what business you are for the first 12 months or so. You need time to figure out who is going to pay for what you do or make.
  • Everything takes longer than you assume. Your website won’t get done on time, your projects will take longer, you will be busy focused on the wrong things at first and so on.

A great example of a business that took a year to figure out itself passed before my eyes. Just before their year anniversary (after almost ten months of work) they lost a key contributor because they gave up on the business. They began focusing on what wasn’t working instead of focusing on what could work. Two months after they left the remaining team figured out how to make the business work and signed up major clients who turned the breakeven business into a big money maker for them. Let me tell you, it got really hard to see how the business was going to work until August of that year.

My Advice to Anyone Considering Starting a Business?

  • Commit 13 months to making the business a success.
  • Prepare your family for the 13 month commitment and get their buy-in.
  • Work on and in your business for 12 hours a day (including weekends).
  • Be prepared not to make any money for the first 13 months.
  • Be prepared to change your business plan over and over until you get it right.
  • Be prepared to do everything yourself.
  • Be prepared to fight with your partners, spouse, friends and family.
  • Realize that before you succeed it will seem like you have failed - don’t give up.
  • Realize that if it was easy everyone would do it…
  • Oh and read Rick Segal!

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