I have started a number of businesses in fashion, beauty and wellness but I never said it was easy. These business startups were triggered by different reasons. Some out of curiosity, some for motivation, and some because of interests. All my businesses started differently as well. Some by impulse, some with a solid plan and some by pure trust. Little did I know that all these will be much more than I thought or expected. These experiences brought me closer towards a better understanding of myself and the value of being in business. Crazy as it may seem, costly as it may be but my most valued education was from all these. A hands-on experience of reality, rejections, frustrations, value for money, people, failures and learning to celebrate small successes. The toughest questions are the ones we need to ask ourselves. We cannot lie nor fake it ’cause if we do, we are fooling no one but ourselves. Queries are a sign of a curious mind. The more you ask, the more you find meaning on what you do. And a curious mind will continue to ask throughout the journey as both you and your business evolve.
Let me share these 3 tough questions I have learned to face which I think any one who is keen on starting a business must answer.
1-What is my business?
This question actually answers your why’s. It is more than just stating the kind of business you want to put up or the industry you are in or the products and services you provide. Before you can answer this, you have to go through a personal assessment of your reasons why you are in business or want to start this business. Answers may not be readily available. There are times that it takes a while for you to find out. But when you do, it will be your weapon against the challenges you are about to face. And when times get rough, as it always does, this is what you hold on to in keeping yourself on track.
When I started my spa and massage businesses, my initial motivation was to earn a profitable income so I can get out of employment. But after a while, even after one of my massage outlets with a business partner was closed, I was motivated to continue the spa business I have built with my sister but this time with a more profound reason – to help build a stress-free community and to uplift the image of massage therapists commonly linked to extra service or prostitution. This became part of Onajin Spa‘s mission. And now, we are gearing towards another reason for our existence that will take care not only of our guest’s external beauty and inner health but will also be in harmony with nature.
Take some time to really ponder on this. Find the real reason for starting the business. It’s more like your personal mission. Then visualize what you want your business to become or where you really want to go. They say if you can answer this question briefly in not more than three sentences that will be clearly understood by anyone, you have found the depth of your business. Find out your BIG why and you’ll always figure out your what and how.
2-Do I have what it takes to be an Entrepreneur?
Whenever I look back and see how I tried to answer this question, it gives me a number of adjectives describing what an entrepreneur should be… Passionate, determined, people oriented, strong leader and so on. As I go through the journey and still on it, I realized that what it takes to be an entrepreneur is not a descriptive of who he is or is not or who he can be. But rather an ability to take an action dreaded by many – CHANGE. Are you willing to go through the change to be an entrepreneur? If your answer is YES, then you have what it takes. My personal definition of an Entrepreneur is someone who is willing to go through change in order to carry out his mission and bring about change as well.
In my recent blog on “What’s stopping you?” I have mentioned that great entrepreneurs are great problem solvers. To be one requires a shift in mindset. Whenever you are faced with a problem, a challenge or difficulty, entrepreneurs focus more on finding immediate solutions to the problem and work on the root causes to be able to find better controls and keep the problem from recurring. The more you dwell on the problem, the more you feel bad, get discouraged and just pull out the energy in you. This is the kind you want to avoid cause the number one thing an entrepreneur must manage is not just his time but his energy. With the different aspects of business that you have to attend to as a budding entrepreneur, you must have all the energy to cover all these, or you will simply give up due to exhaustion. You are responsible for a lot of things – making decisions, resolving problems and conflicts, creating opportunities and motivating others to share your mission and vision. When something is not working, you simply cannot ignore it and you do everything in your power to fix it. You wake up each morning too eager and excited to bring about your ideas into execution. For entrepreneurs, there is just not enough time in a day. To realize your vision, you kind of eat, sleep and dream on it. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t count your overtime hours because you are around the clock. Your business becomes a way of life. Are you willing to embrace the change?
3-What if I fail?
Then, congratulations! You just learned a most valuable lesson in business. Failure is a milestone in getting to where you want to be. Like I’ve said I have experienced closing down a business but it didn’t stop me from putting up a new one. Why? Because I have my BIG why. I guess my takeaways from my failures were a recognition of what I did wrong or the things I did not do, and an honest evaluation of myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my limitations and my capabilities. Positivity is a valuable characteristic of an entrepreneur but so is anticipation. Your ability to anticipate potential losses, challenges and risks will make you more cautious on the decisions you make and preparation becomes a natural task. You learn to work on your exit strategy even if you have just started and to create controls for your anticipated business concerns and issues.
This question will help you find out if you have the heart of an entrepreneur. So, what if you fail? Will you stop and change direction to return to where you were or will you adjust your sail to reach your planned destination? And if the storm comes after you have made adjustments and set you through a new direction, will you test it out and see if this new venture is the one for you? Or will you simply stop trying and go back to where you have been?
Life is unpredictable. Change is inevitable. What if you fail? Will you start businesses after one failure to another whether it’s of a different nature or the same as before? Or will you finally accept it to yourself that entrepreneurship is not for you?
These are the toughest questions I learned to face throughout my entrepreneurial journey and continue to answer for every new adventure that I take or new direction that I wanted to take my business into. I hope this gives you a starting point. I have created this blog to share my story and my experience. It is my utmost desire that this will be an avenue for other entrepreneurs to share their story and experiences to help others. I believe in the value of collaboration. It brings all of us together towards realizing our individual dreams and helping others to achieve theirs as well.
What were the toughest questions you have faced? Feel free to comment and share your story.