BY Joanna Track
In the world of start-ups and entrepreneurship, I’ve become somewhat of a veteran. At 44, I’m now onto my third entrepreneurial venture — in start-up years that makes me geriatric. That said, I believe there are no age or time limits on when or how you make the decision to go your own way.
Along this amazing journey I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons. Some from mentors, but many from just trying and doing (and screwing up!). Here are some of the key ones:
This is probably the most common question I get from aspiring entrepreneurs. After two failed partnerships and one incredibly successful one (with my partner and fellow good egg, Lori Track), I have experienced both the benefits and drawbacks of going down the partnership track. I can say many things about it, but what I can’t say is whether you should or you shouldn’t. It is a very personal decision that requires consideration of your business needs, lifestyle desires, work ethic, and vision.
Here’s what I can tell you: I often see people seek out a partner when all they needed was a resource. You’re not good at numbers? Hire a good accountant. You’re not creative? Pay someone who is. Partnership is like marriage. You should ideally date and get to know someone before you make that commitment. Test the merchandise. Even (and especially) if it’s a friend. What makes a good friendship does not always make a good business.
To venture into your own business you need to take a very candid look at your skills to determine if you have what it takes to make it viable, and ultimately profitable.
We’ve all heard the adage “if you love what you do, the money will follow.” That’s mostly true, but there are two caveats to that theory. First, just because you love it, doesn’t always mean you are good at it. Or, at least, good enough to make a business of it. To venture into your own business you need to take a very candid look at your skills to determine if you have what it takes to make it viable, and ultimately profitable.
Once you’ve determined that you love it and you’re actually really good at it, determine if it’s a passion or your true calling. For me, I absolutely love yoga and I’m getting pretty good at it, but I ultimately don’t want to spend my days teaching it. I’d rather enjoy it in my spare time and keep it in that special place in my life.
“Your first and foremost goal should be building a viable, profitable business, where you enjoy what you do, and your employees enjoy being there.”
These days, many budding entrepreneurs are setting their sites on the big, knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark idea, that will make them the next Mark Zuckerberg. They have lofty goals and will sacrifice everything (money, time, friends) to try to reach for the stars. The reality is you still have a better chance of winning the lottery than creating the next Facebook. I’m not telling you to give up on your dreams, or to avoid big aspirations (that’s the fun part that gets us start-up junkies out of bed in the morning). I’m saying that your first and foremost goal should be building a viable, profitable business, where you enjoy what you do, and your employees enjoy being there. If you’ve done that, you’ve already achieved a major accomplishment. One that many others never reach (and many more never even have the guts to try).
My last word on entrepreneurial endeavours is this: you don’t need to start your own business to feel some of the rush and rewards associated with it. If you work for someone else (either big corporate or small business) there are always opportunities to use these lessons within your role to build your career and achieve more success within it.