Entrepreneurship. Finding the up side of a down economy

We are all acutely aware of the effects of the current economic climate and have felt them both in our personal lives, with reduced spending habits, and in our businesses where many have unfortunately not made it over the past few years. Does this mean that starting a business in this environment is a bad idea and can’t be done? Should we abandon entrepreneurship and all get day jobs? I think not. Robot Dwarf has existed for almost three years now and has seen tremendous growth in that time, having been started in a poor economic climate.

So why have we managed to make it thus far while others have not? Here are a couple of my thoughts on the matter (I don’t claim to have all the answers by any means):

Start small and work your way up

There is nothing wrong with starting off small. In fact, I recommend it – as that is was entrepreneurship is all about. Our business was started out of a single room in my house and just one full time staff member, with a hand full of cash. If you need more convincing check out this great start-up story of Innocent Drinks.

If it doesn’t work don’t give up

Not everything you do will succeed, but sometimes that is a good thing. Failure can work in your favour when you are able to learn something. The first two businesses I started did not succeed, but I learnt a lot. I realised that:

  • Timing is not important, its critical. Sometimes you can have the right ideas but just be a little too early (yes, the early bird doens’t always catch the worm). When your timing is out, it doesn’t always mean that you are too late…sometimes the market is just not ready for you. Deal with it and move onto the next opportunity.
  • Ideas are not everything. Your initial idea might be good but if you can’t execute it or if there is no market for it then you need to rethink it – learn the art of pivoting.
  • Listen to your customers. I’m not a fan of the old adage “The Customer is always right”, but I believe in listening to the customer. They will tell you if you’re on the right track and generally, if they are asking for your services, then you are on the right track. If not, then perhaps consider a different approach.

Stay focussed, don’t mess it up

Focus is vital, without it you will never succeed in a world where ideas are a dime a dozen. Stick to your core business, do the things that you are good at and be wary of trying to be the ‘specialist’ at everything. Specialist entrepreneurs are good at many things but not everything! Stick to what you are good at! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try new things or move in new directions when something is not working (that’s a big part of entrepreneurship), but so many good businesses fail because they tried to ‘fix what aint broke’. Don’t fall into this trap.

Work hard until you grow up

There really is no substitute for hard work! Success (whatever that means to you) doesn’t just happen – it is the product of hard work. It comes from pushing through the tough times, working late and getting up early. If you are running a start-up and you’re not working at least a 14 hour day for the first couple months then you aren’t hungry enough! You have to make your business work, commit to your idea, believe in it and then put the effort in.

Share your thoughts

6 responses to “Entrepreneurship. Finding the up side of a down economy”

  1. Really great post John, I think its a very grounding introduction to the world of entrepreneurship. Just the mention that you struggled through two businesses which didn’t make it, but kept up the hard work highlights what it takes to make a business work. Looking forward to your next article!

    • Thanks Jasond, I don’t think this post is anything new, but as you say, it’s just a couple lessons I have learnt from my own experience and perhaps worth sharing for others to learn from.

  2. Well said John, I can relate as I have been through every step, including the failure and the long hours. Building a business takes dedication, passion…and a thick skin at times 🙂

    • Hi Sue, absolutely! Instant success is the exception and not the rule…hard work and commitmment will always take you so much further!

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