In business, there are no shortcuts. I don’t care what you do, if you want to be great at it, you need to spend many years pushing yourself and learning.
Think about doctors and lawyers.
Doctors spend the better part of a decade in school. Lawyers don’t focus on anything other than law for the first ten years out of law school. Both of these disciplines have proficient training grounds—you go to a formal school to learn, and when you enter the industry, you then have residency or a law firm with structured methodology to help you learn the ropes.
Learning as an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur running a startup business, there is almost no place to engage in formal learning, and certainly fewer methods to teach you the ropes once you’re in the game. Many of us find our own support mechanisms—maybe a mentor or a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who occasionally meet. This is one of the frustrating components of entrepreneurship; one that I wish to change by establishing a community of people who facilitate the growth of budding entrepreneurs.
What does this mean? Entrepreneurs have to be prepared for a long, slow and steady learning curve. Your success and the business are going to take longer to develop than you may think. It is my belief that you should commit yourself to being the most dedicated and dependable person in your business for at least the first 7-10 years.
For my business partner and I, it was more like 20 years—yeah, 20. If you think you are going to start your business and, in a year or two, hand it over to someone else to run day-to-day so you can spend more time riding your bike, then I’m afraid you’re in for a rude awakening.
Dedication & Dependability
As I always say, I hope you prove me wrong. I genuinely hope you open and that your business provides you with the lifestyle you desire in 24-36 months. However, my experience tells me this is a rare exception. Most of us have to be in the game for 7-10 years before things really start to work.
When starting your business, set aside the first two years if you are in a franchise model like BIGGBY COFFEE®, or four years if you are independent. Look at these years as an investment in your education in entrepreneurship. Going back to school, you would have to pay for your MBA—in entrepreneurship, you pay with your negative cash flow. As owners of a startup, we are mostly self-taught and must know that it takes time to learn the nuances of the business.
You have to deal with all of the unexpected, all the seasonal and all the customer and personnel issues that will jump up and kick you in the teeth. It’s imperative that you don’t underestimate this part of the process. Even if you open with strong revenue and cash flow out the gate, there will be so much to learn.
Commitment to Your Business
Just like a doctor or lawyer, commit yourself to 7-10 years of complete and total focus on your business. If this is your approach, it is my opinion that you will get to the end of that period and have a successful business on your hands.
If you go into it with an expectation of any less than 7-10 years, you will end up sorely disappointed and, as you may know from my other writings, once you are down the path of negativity and disappointment, it is very difficult to get off.
So, expect low performance, endure long time frames, keep your head screwed on squarely and you’ll be facing in the right direction.
For more advice and anecdotes on how to start and run a successful business, order my book, Grind: A No-Bullshit Approach to Take Your Business from Concept to Cash Flow.