So here is my contribution to Enterprise Week.
DO NOT START UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS – UNLESS YOU HAVE TO.
Not the message that is usually put out, especially by national, regional and local government, but after 25 years of running and supporting small businesses, that is my best advice. Don’t do it – unless you have to. Unless of course you have money to burn.
Because the truth is that small business is a really hard game. You have to provide a great product or service – and one miscalculation, or one bad debt, can put you out of the game and into the bankruptcy courts. Few people succeed in business the first time they try.
It takes resilience, persistence, self confidence and courage.
The chances of success are slim and the levels of commitment and hard work required are, in most cases, enormous.
Your business will almost certainly steal you away from friends and family at least for the first few years, and many successful entrepreneurs talk about how much their business has cost them in terms of their relationships and health, as well as cash.
This is the reality of entrepreneurship that needs to be taught. (Policy makers please take note. If we were this honest about the nature of entrepreneurship we might not get as many people involved in enterprise week – but a far higher percentage that did get involved would go on to be successful entrepreneurs.)
Those that ‘have to’ start a business fall into two very different camps. The first ‘have to’ because they have no other economic option for survival. Enterprise is their ONLY option. It is the only way they can make a living. For those whom enterprise is a forced choice the outcome is rarely great.
The second group ‘have to’ because it is the only way that they can have the freedom to do what they have to do, to be the person that they have to be and provide the products and services that they really have to provide. Enterprise provides them with a way of becoming the person that they feel they have to be. It is about their own identity as a human being.
So the rallying call for enterprise week should be,
‘DO NOT DO IT- UNLESS YOU HAVE TO!
Unless it is the only way for you to become the person that you really want to be’.
And if we invested our energy into helping people to really understand who or what they want to become we might find that all of a sudden ‘enterprise’ starts to look after itself.
Of course for those that ‘have to’ enterprise can be a wonderfully powerful vehicle to achieve remarkable results. I am not anti enterprise – quite the opposite. I just wish we could present it honestly as the double edged sword that it truly is.