From the outside, the life of an entrepreneur seems very glamourous, but in actual fact an entrepreneur goes through an incredible journey. There are many highs, like when you win that new contract or get that funding or simply launch the new website or new packaging. Equally there are many lows, like hitting that bottle neck in production or just missing out on that contract win or having cash flow issues. There is also the steep learning curve that comes from having to do everything yourself, becoming your Sales team, Marketing team, Administrator, Operator and Accountant. Working long hours just to keep up and there comes a point, when it becomes unproductive, especially doings tasks that are new to you, which always seem to take at least twice as long. Then there are the mistakes that are made, which can be very costly or detrimental to the business.
The most common predicament for all entrepreneurs is at which point do you stop and accept you cannot do everything and seek help? Experience has shown that most businesses leave it too late and something drastic has to happen before action is taken. I recall a recent example where a company, which had grown steadily over a couple of years. The team had grown from 1 to 3, all of whom were operators providing a service and experts in their field. They believed they could deal with the finances themselves – they had all studied a finance module at university and felt between the 3 of them they could cover it. How hard could it be? After all they ‘had done fine for the last 2 years’? The company bid for a large contract and were fortunate enough to win it. When the Client did their due diligence they discovered that the company they had just awarded the contract to, had a formal notice published in the London Gazette to be struck off. It transpired that the reason for the notice was non fulfilment of Directors duties. The company were so busy focussing on growing the business and had forgotten to file the annual return. A simple task, which most people can do, but if not completed can result in severe consequences. Luckily for the company they were able to resolve (after much time, effort and pleading – time and effort, which could have been used elsewhere) and did not lose the contract. But what if the Client had not been so understanding? A simple omission could have been very damaging to the business. Accepted, the contract was not lost, but it’s still not the best start to a new contract/relationship. So the moral of the story is, it important to be realistic about what you can actually do yourself and how your time is best spent. Cost will always be an influencing factor in every decision especially in the early days, but it is always worthwhile having a discussion, you may be surprised.