90% of all startups fail. BUT, that means you still have a 10% chance of succeeding.
Tough situations are the best test of your perseverance, dedication and endurance, and I have an inkling that most failed startups are due to unrealistic expectations of how startup life is like. Below are a list of questions every aspiring entrepreneur should ask themselves before jumping in head first.
- Are you ready to work 24/7? Because your brain won't stop thinking about your business. Why? Because now, you pay ALL the bills - including your own salary, your employee's salary, your office rent, utility bills - ALL the bills.
- Can you take rejection? Unless you are selling something that's already proven and you had enough money to buy an existing book of customers from another business, be prepared to sell, sell, SELL! You won't close every deal, or even most deals, in the beginning, when you are trying to figure out what consumers really want and are willing to PAY for, so I hope you can take rejection.
- How much runway do you have? When we say 'runway', we aren't referring to the glamorous runways where models don the latest fashions and strut their stuff; we are referring to how many months you can stay in business if you don't make any money at all. It is 3 months? 6 months? Cash is king. Without cash you can kiss your 'business' goodbye.
- Are you fantastic at keeping everyone else happy? While they say you can't make everyone love you, there are a few stakeholders that you MUST work to ensure they are happy and content; these parties include your staff, your clients, and your investors. The startup life may seem glamorous when you see entrepreneurs who have 'made it', but before you get there you have to put in the hard work. Keep your staff happy because they are the reason why your business is humming along, take care of your clients' needs because they are the reason your bills get paid, and if you have investors, hit your short and long term milestones to ensure you get additional funding for your business' next big step. So, though they say to 'pay yourself first', you must work to keep everyone else happy first.
- What if the market doesn't love your product? Entrepreneurs usually go in thinking their product should be flying off the shelves, but are you ready with a backup plan if that doesn't happen? Sometimes it's because you have a great product but have it targeted at the wrong audience, sometimes it's a great product at the wrong price point... can you come to terms with the fact that you may have to modify your 'perfect product' to tailor it to market needs?
The list goes on, but as you can see, the entrepreneurship route requires a limitless amount of tenacity, perseverance, and creativity. The key is to have an honest conversation with yourself, at the very least on the questions above. The process of building a business is humbling, as you discover that the startup life is not at all glamorous. Will you still make the leap?