What you wish you knew about building a business from nothing…

There’s a learning curve for everything in life. Starting your own business is no different. Often, the learning curve is steeper in the case of becoming an entrepreneur but there’s so much we learn in the process that eventually serves us well as we build the business. There are many ideas we start out with but later on, as the business grows, you realize that there’s so much more that needs to be done in different ways.

Just ask the ones who have travelled that road before. James Green, recognized as one of the new generation CEOs heading Magnetic, an ad technology company, started out with Disney and Pixar. In his career, he has built and sold four tech companies successfully. According to Green, one of the things you can get wrong when building your own business is to get too attached to a business. Some people think of their business as an extension of themselves. It isn’t – it’s just a venture you have created and one that could be sold or transformed without regrets.

“The one thing I wish I’d known when I started a business is that I shouldn’t get emotionally attached to it,” Green says. “Companies have no feelings, and they are things, not people. Put bluntly (and laying aside non-profits and other nontraditional entities), companies are here for one reason and one reason alone: to make money. Everyone knows that money can’t buy you love, and by extension it makes no sense to love your company. There may come a time when you have to change it, dissolve it, close it, give it to someone else to run, cede control to investors, or any other number of things.”

Green is right. Some entrepreneurs cannot bring themselves to think beyond their businesses. But that is not how it should be. It is good to keep in mind that the business did not create you and that you created the business. Yet understandably, some business owners feel fatherly or motherly about a business – when you start one from nothing and watch it become a success, you naturally feel proud of it’s creation. Yet, there are times when the umbilical cord must be cut in order to move on.

Yet another trait start ups get wrong is to assume that everything has to be done by the founder – delegation does not come easy to some. You may have foundered a business but you will not have all the answers so it is imperative to be able to solicit and understand advice. You could be wrong at times. You can be too focused on a business enough to be myopic about it. Often times, fresh insights and different perspectives help. You do not have to hold on to the remote control – you can let go and let others handle some of the decision making functions. The company benefits from such change of direction in the long term.

Some entrepreneurs fail to understand that market dynamics change faster than you could grasp it. As technology advances, so do the markets. How attuned are you to the changing markets and how aware are you of the need to change your own product offering? Are you ready to incorporate the changes or are you merely burying your head in the sand – these are questions you need to ask yourself.

Formulas need to change and those changes need to be incorporated into the product or service mix you are offering. As we all know, refusing to change can be disastrous. You need to keep your ears and eyes open to change and be able to acknowledge in if and when it does happen. Change is inevitable and the best way to handle it is to go along with it and see in what ways it could add a sharper edge to your business.

Being an entrepreneur is a journey, one that takes you to the heights of vistas and sometimes to the depths but the feeling is hard to beat, especially when you know that you have created and built a business that has grown successfully. Yet the challenges as always mount and it is always up to us to be able to successfully navigate those challenges.

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