The most important, overarching truth to always grasp is that a small beginning is still – a beginning.
The economic turbulence of the last several years poses a bit of a conundrum – its impact is undeniable and has touched nearly every segment of American business, yet not enough data has been compiled yet to paint a clear picture as to what the long-term effects will be. At a time when inflation is running at a 40-year high, trying to maintain any kind of positive outlook on the prospects of running a business can seem a daunting task. Even more overwhelming is the prospect of trying to launch a new enterprise at a time of so much financial uncertainty. The mere prospect of stepping into the realm of a business startup might seem like nothing more than a long-shot at best and downright foolhardy at worst.
This is a shame, because the very fabric of the American marketplace is based on the innovations of those daring enough to pursue their goals irrespective of the climate around them. But what’s the logical conclusion to be drawn from the abundance of what can seem like nothing but bad news for those pursuing a startup? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 22% of small businesses survive beyond their first year of operation. Faced with data like this, even the most passionate entrepreneur can feel so disillusioned as to never truly commit to taking any initiative toward fleshing out the dream.
Overcoming the negativity that swirls like a vortex in the path of new businesses is best founded on the reality that there are, in fact, positive aspects to undertaking a new venture. Although an abundance of statistics seems to point to nothing more that doom and gloom, the website Entrepreneur.com reported that the failure rate for small businesses has actually declined by 30% since 1977. So many stories about the difficulties for companies that occurred in the aftermath of the “dot com” bubble burst have contributed to the narrative that the road was somehow easier 45 years ago, but embracing that generalization fails to acknowledge the real opportunities in existence today.
Another potential roadblock to someone wanting to launch a new business is “imposter syndrome”, the ill-founded belief that only those with extensive education and experience should ever position themselves in the business realm. A positive counterbalance to this can be found in data provided by Guidant Financial which indicates that 30% of all entrepreneurs launch their ventures armed with nothing more than a high school diploma. Secondary education may be a logical and beneficial later step, but it should never be considered a mandatory prerequisite for starting on the journey toward creating a new business.
Even for those who have found the fortitude to immerse themselves in all that goes with establishing their own company, there can often be the temptation to believe that a modest or minimal operating budget, small staff, and humble client or customer base equates with failure. Finding a happy medium between never starting a business at all and starting one with unrealistic expectations for success and growth is crucial to fostering a sustaining vision for the company. Entrepreneurs need to research and understand the market they’re entering, and certainly developing an awareness of what the competition is offering plays an important role. But there’s also the danger of becoming so ultra-focused on what others are doing that objectivity goes out the window, and a sense of inadequacy subtly creeps in.
Perhaps the best mindset for those contemplating a new business venture is one encapsulated in a passage from the Bible, the fourth chapter and tenth verse of the book of Zechariah which begins with, “Do not despise these small beginnings”. The most important, overarching truth to always grasp is that a small beginning is still – a beginning. Axioms like, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” may have become little more than trite clichés, but there’s an underlying truth that can’t be overlooked. No statistics exist for how many people have a vision for creating a business but never overcome their fear of failure enough to actually do anything. Paralyzed by their inability to envision themselves actually becoming a success, they allow their dreams to never move even an inch toward becoming a reality.
One of the most significant motivators for anyone who decides to pursue entrepreneurship is recognizing the massive, global corporations which had their origins in the most humble of surroundings. Apple, Tesla, Hewlett-Packard, the Walt Disney Co., Mattel, Square, Amazon, and Microsoft are a mere sampling of incredibly successful and lucrative companies which all started their operations in a garage. In every one of these scenarios, a sole proprietor or a very small group of collaborators had an idea, but usually little capital and no formal office space whatsoever. These entrepreneurs could’ve sabotaged their journey at the outset by becoming self-conscious about the meager environments in which they were working, but they instead developed a resiliency to never let go of the visions they were reaching for.
The business goals you have may be modest, but challenge yourself to not fail to take them seriously simply because they’re not lofty and grandiose. Start somewhere and you will have already taken a critical step that millions never will. Once you’ve launched, allow that founding inspiration to begin to help you to embrace innovation, learning to do as much as you possibly can with the tools you have at your disposal today. Don’t put off trying something now because you can’t afford to buy what you think you need to make it happen. Instead, find creative ways to problem-solve, build a knowledge base as you do, and allow small successes to influence the operational decisions you make as you move your enterprise forward.
Virtually no one steps into the business world with stunning results at the outset. Just remember that true success is defined by being willing to content yourself with a small beginning, something which is actually huge when taken in the overall context of what goes into making a venture happen. It’s always better to look back from a successful future at a humble start than to look with fear into the future and end up never even taking the first step.
Do you have a business idea you'd like to launch in 2023? ValorExcel offers training, coaching, and development services to help you reach your goals. Contact us at 240-329-9387 or visit www.valorexcel.com/businessservices. In the meantime, make sure you check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Each episode is designed to inspire and empower you to work smarter, not harder.