Why small-business owners need to get comfortable with the F-word

hard truth, f-word
A businessman sits in despair and covers his face with his hands. Wrong business model, unprofitability and inefficiency. Failed project, failure and disappointment. Young inexperienced businessman

There is a lot of romanticism around the thought of running your own business. Being your own boss, working your own hours, and making your own money. You’re an expert in your field and are so passionate about it that you go full steam ahead into running a business. However, running your own business can be overwhelming and come with many unexpected issues.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the harsh reality is that one in three new small businesses in Australia fails in their first three years of operation. It’s not because ideas aren’t great or that the passion isn’t there. Running a business is harder than anyone originally expects.

What people need to realise is that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to fail. And, above all else, it’s okay to ask for help. When you have poured your heart and soul into something it can be difficult when things don’t always go to plan.

Two incredibly important qualities needed to run any business are mental toughness and resilience. Sharing the burden with people who are good at different things can help lessen the burden on your mental health and increase the chances of business success.

It’s important to remember that we all need help and that we all make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of failure. Learn from them and don’t be so hard on yourself when you do fail.

In my experience, running a business and helping others run theirs as part of our wider VMG umbrella, there are some common failures that you should be careful of when starting or running a business.

  1. Winging it: the mentality of “she’ll be right” can quickly lead to disaster. As a small business, you have less resources and time compared to bigger companies, which means you have a smaller margin for error. Going into anything and “winging it” without proper consideration can be a recipe for disaster. Gut-instincts still require thought. You need to make sure you understand what it is you are doing, and what you can bring to the table.
  2. Forgetting you still have things to learn: You’re never too old to learn or acquire new skills. Even if you have had some success, you won’t know it all. In any business new or old there’ll be plenty of new things to learn – from budgeting and forecasting to social media marketing – you need to have a learning mentality. Make time to learn something new every day or at least every week.
  3. Being too proud to ask for help: Bury that ego and don’t think you’re all alone. Seek help and advice from others with experience and don’t be too proud to ask for help! The mental toughness and resilience it takes to run a business is huge. And sharing the burden with people who are good at different things can help lessen the burden on your mental health and increase the chances of success. Don’t underestimate people’s desire to help you either.
  4. Hiring the wrong people: Don’t just hire “anyone”. You should surround yourself with the best people regardless of age, experience or salary, and you should always remunerate people based on their value. Great people build great businesses. If you make a mistake in the hiring process with someone who isn’t quite the right fit for the business, correct it quickly! In a small team, the wrong fit can cause problems down the track.
  5. Expecting overnight success: Being an entrepreneur or running a business is HARD. Don’t believe what you see on social media or in the movies. People are full of shit! Ignore and certainly don’t compare. You’re going to have days where you want to pack it in, but that challenge is what it’s all about. It’s a long journey, so be patient.