Most small businesses take several years to be successful. Most will usually become self-sustained in 2 to 4 years and become profitable much later in the fifth and the sixth year. If those numbers sound unreal to you, let’s take a closer look at why that might be. And how these numbers almost always hold.
If you are a small business owner or a prospective one I am talking to you. Do you feel anxious when you read or hear about success stories on social media or other places? When you hear about small businesses making it big out of the blue, you think about your own slow growth? Or you wonder how Facebook did it or Mailchimp or Walmart?
Hang around we will answer these for you in a jiffy!
1. The Growing Pains
First of all, stop listening to other stories and feeling low about your own growth and success. That is advice from a seasoned entrepreneur with years of experience with various businesses of my own and with helping businesses like yourself grow.
Overnight success stories are usually pitted as such, however, they were small businesses hanging around in oblivion for a while before their miracle success. You just didn’t know about them before. Plus, people may not be completely honest about their successes or failures. So there’s no point in sulking over what you don’t know to be absolutely true.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Let’s consider a scenario! How did you feel on the first day of high school as a freshman? Chances are you were nervous as hell, I was. I was nervous that might not be able to spin the knob correctly on my locker and get locked out on day one. My dad took me to the school and I practiced spinning the lock over and over. All the seniors seemed so cool and tall and comfortable. Whereas, I was nervous and scared. I organized everything excitedly before the first day of school and yet here I was all nervous. It all seemed surreal and different than junior high. How did the seniors get it all right?
Through practice. By being there and doing it over and over for a few years now.
Your experience as an entrepreneur is quite similar. I’m consulting with people regularly who feel anxiety, that they are not farther along in their business. I feel similarly anxious sometimes. There are times when I reflect on my business and my journey as an entrepreneur. I look at other people and I think, “They’re so much farther along. Wow! I really wish I was more like them. I must not be successful. I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”
Are you beginning to see the comparison between yourself and a freshman in high school yet? If not then let me lay it down for you! As a freshman, you are nervous and not comfortable at all on day one of high school, however, the seniors behave like they own the place.
You would not expect yourself to act like a senior until you become a senior. It took four years for you to develop that confidence, and that confidence and success only come through experience. You have to just show up that first day and suck. You have to get it wrong in the very beginning to be able to make it to that fourth year and become a senior.
3. Manage Your Expectations
As much as I remember the fear as a freshman; I also quite vividly remember the ease of being a senior. The carefree energy, the pride, and the fearlessness!
You put your feet up on the desk. You come in late to class. You sign your report card pretending to be your own parent. Some people don’t even show up for the whole semester and they graduate with a C. That confidence just comes because of the time spent there and the experiences amassed.
So anybody who feels badly about where they are in their business, let’s change our expectations. Let’s give it the time it demands and deserves. Let your struggles teach you new experiences that take you to the heights you desire in due course.
The success stories we hear/ read about; the ones that seem like extreme winners; we don’t actually know what they’re genuinely going through. And we don’t know what they sacrifice to be able to get to that point.
According to Forbes magazine, small businesses are built over years and not months. The success of companies like Uber is an aberration and not the norm. I think if we change our expectations and look at the real and the true picture we will realize how successful our business is where it is as of now.
We all started with different resources and different experience levels when it comes to a business. So success means something different to each business owner. Therefore, pinning your hopes based on another person’s story, as seen on the outside won’t be beneficial.
4. Hang in There
Let’s consider a few examples. Walmart started in 1945 as a small business and it was a whole year before the second store was launched. The rapid growth that made it the top company it is today did not happen until at least 1970. Or Mailchimp. It started as a start-up in 2001 and it wasn’t until 2016 that it pulled a million-dollar revenue. They were both small businesses that invested in understanding their customer and hanging in there amongst all the competition.
In short, to achieve something great you must devote time and accumulate experience. For example, it takes a whole 4 years to finish high school, another four to finish college. Six years or sometimes more to get a Ph.D. And I believe it takes a similar timeframe to have a successful business.
So one of the things I tell most people that I’m working with, in consulting is you need to give it at least four years. At least four years for you to start to feel confident, comfortable, maybe clear on the types of services that you should be offering. Maybe even to be clear on the kind of employees that you need. So much wisdom comes after that fourth year. Four is the magic number!
By the time that you’re in your fifth and sixth year, usually, you’re generating profit enough to pay yourself a great salary. It is true of all the businesses that I’ve run (and worked with), that usually by the third year I was able to take a salary, by the fourth and fifth year I was able to take a good salary, and by the sixth year, I’m making a good profit.
Give it four years to become a senior in your business, and then by the time that you’re actually in college and you have your sixth and seventh year, you’ll be making great money and be able to actually take a break.
Be kinder towards yourself and stop comparing your success with everybody else’s. Everybody is different with different starting points and different expectations.
If you can give yourself space, the runway to actually take off, you’ll have the emotional fortitude to keep going so that you actually cross the finish line. The more micro-focused on the goal you are and being like someone you think you understand, the harder you’re going to be on yourself. Have fun doing what you do and enjoy the race! Do it for the fun of doing it and not just to match up to someone else’s success.
Do it to become a black belt in your own business. If it takes 12 years to become a black belt in jiu-jitsu, why wouldn’t it take 12 years to become a black belt in your business?
To be able to afford that nice home, to make lots of great money, to be able to take lots of long vacations. It’s reasonable to expect that a healthy business is going to take time. When you change your expectations, you can enjoy the ride and you’re more likely to get where you want to be.
I hope this encourages you today to go from Start to Sold!
Watch to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAVfogz3jRQ
MORE ABOUT START TO SOLD
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MORE ABOUT EMILY PAGE
Emily is CEO of Pearl Resourcing and has managed and launched multiple 7-figure brands in Costco, Williams-Sonoma, Kroger, and Amazon. She’s bringing you the expertise, resources, and mentors you need so that you can develop products and make them sell. She also offers business growth consulting (https://emilyannepage.com) and free advice for brand owners through START TO SOLD (http://starttosoldpodcast.com)