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Some people think it takes a lot of guts to start a business.
I’m not one of them. I don’t think it takes guts as much as it takes a giant leap of faith in one’s ability to do something better than it’s currently being done.
I think guts come into play later in business, not at the beginning. It takes a lot of guts to persevere when the going gets tough and the only person who still believes the business will succeed is the entrepreneur who started it.
Getting out of bed and opening the door to the shop after a long, lonely night spent wondering where you’re going to come up with the money for payroll that day… that takes guts.
Pitching your dream to one more banker in the hopes of getting a loan when the last five you talked to said they weren’t willing to bet on you… that takes guts.
Guts play a role in the million decisions, big and small, that small business owners are faced with every day.
Guts show up when the going gets tough, not when the sailing is smooth. Guts show up when you’re making the tough calls you don’t want to make, but that you know have to be made.
Do you have the guts to confront an employee who isn’t performing and you know in your heart he or she needs to work somewhere else? How about when they’re a long-term employee who’s been with you through the tough, early years of your business, but whom you now find yourself having to manage around? Or when they’re related to you and you know that letting them go will create a lot of tension at future family get-togethers? “Sorry I had to fire you. Care for another drum stick?”
Do you have the guts to help your business evolve to address the changing demands of a market or customer base? The needs of your customers will change; technology will change; markets will change.
You’ve got to have a lot of guts to move away from the original idea you were so passionate about when you started your company and discover new services that will appeal to your customers.
Do you have the guts to fire a customer who’s no longer profitable? Even when that customer has been with you for a long time? Even when that customer represents an overwhelming part of your revenue?
That takes guts! It’s a rare customer who stays with a company as it grows from start-up through adolescence to maturity. Either their needs change or our needs change.
Do you have the guts to continually search for new, more profitable customers?
And then there is you…
Do you have the guts to change yourself as a business leader? We all talk about growing our people, but how diligently are we growing ourselves?
Learning new skills so we’re able to do things we’ve never done before and then executing on those things takes a lot of guts.
Abandoning the habits and behaviors we had when we started our companies… behaviors we’ve spent a lifetime learning and getting comfortable with… that takes guts.
But the skills and behaviors we had back then don’t always work when our companies get larger. It takes a lot of guts to admit it, and then to change it.
Starting a business is a lot like having kids. It doesn’t take a lot of guts and too often it doesn’t involve a lot of forethought.
Raising kids to be productive, contributing members of society is another matter. That takes guts, and courage, and discipline, and luck. Just like growing a business.
Chuck Violand understands the unique challenges of small businesses, having owned a commercial cleaning and water damage mitigation company for 26 years. He founded Violand Management Associates (VMA) in 1988 as a consulting, teaching and training resource for owners of small businesses. To learn more about VMA's services and programs, visit www.Violand.com or call (330) 966-0700.