You spend months collecting knowledge and years honing your skills. You garner resources and advisors, you find a location and a name, and before you know it, you’re off and starting a business. Already, you feel exhausted ― and yet you have barely just begun.
In many endeavors, starting is the hardest part; in business, the first steps pale in comparison to the years ahead of you. The true test of an entrepreneur is his or her ability to keep a business up and running for the long haul.
In case you harbor any misconceptions that being an entrepreneur begins and ends with the launch phase, here are a few important differences between starting and running a business.
Pitching ideas vs. developing them
An app that uses augmented reality to translate foreign text. Detachable high heels for the walk home after a night out. A subscription service for new tabletop games.
There are millions of concepts that could make for profitable businesses, and it can be fun and challenging to think of common problems and sellable solutions.
However, running a business is more than coming up with interesting ideas. To make a profit, you must design your item, find manufacturers and distributors, maintain a sales staff and so much more. Ideas themselves don’t make money; products and services do.
Finding funding vs. managing cash flow
One of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs is finding enough money to truly develop their business ideas. You might approach venture capitalists or investors, or you might run fundraising campaigns to squeeze cash from friends, family and strangers. This process can be soul crushing, but it is usually over in a matter of months.
Unfortunately, once you have money, you’ll never stop needing to manage your cash flow. There is a delicate balance between having enough cash on hand and not investing enough in business growth ― and a poorly managed cash flow is a primary cause of business failure. Therefore, before you spend time finding money, you should know how to manage it properly.
Making decisions vs. organizing teams
Unless you have a partner (and perhaps even if you do), you will make all the decisions for your new business yourself. This might seem a heavy burden since any one decision could lead to failure, but it also gives you an unprecedented amount of control over a significant aspect of your life.
Yet, once your business grows, you will slowly lose that authority. Whether you gain investors that seize some power or you hire executives and directors to oversee certain departments, you will no longer have sole jurisdiction over the direction of your business. Instead, you will need to communicate with managers and teams, often guiding rather than deciding.
How to be better at both
Entrepreneurs need a vast array of skills and knowledge to make smart decisions for the starting shot and for the marathon. Fortunately, it is more than possible for you to acquire the talent necessary to be a successful entrepreneur before you start your new business.
Taking online business classes while you get yourself up and running is a fast-track to gaining indispensable information and understanding essential tools for success, like time management.
Alternatively, enduring a few years of traditional employment within the industry in which you plan to start your business is also incredibly beneficial. By experiencing the work first-hand, you will have a more focused and refined view of how your future business will run, especially concerning day-to-day operations. You might secure a mentor who can give you even more guidance while you start and run your business.
Starting a business and running one aren’t the same, however, you must be proficient at both to be an effective entrepreneur. With confidence and hard work, you can find success in every stage of your new business.