Last week we tried to persuade you that just considering the numbers before making a decision about either starting a textile screen printing business or expanding an existing shop, was not enough. We called the numbers the ‘tangibles’ and mentioned that there were also the ’emotional’ (or what we called the ‘intangible’) aspects to consider. So, what are these ‘intangibles’?
The ‘intangibles’ are those things that mostly go on in your head. There are no two people who handle the intangibles the same way. You cannot look at someone else and assume that because they cope with things in a particular way that you will do the same. You might be better or you might be worse, but you will definitely be different. You must consider them from your perspective. The ‘intangibles’ are very important because how you handle them will affect important things like your health, your relationships, your self confidence and your success or failure as a business owner.
The best way to get to grips with the intangibles is to simply ask yourself a series of questions. If the ‘C’ answers start piling up you should seriously re-think your strategy. Either cover for your ‘C’ answers (and perhaps even your ‘B’ answers) by hiring the necessary help or reconsider the concept of self employment or business ownership. Here we go with just 5 considerations that should illustrate the point …
- Being technically competent (say as an artist or screen printer) doesn’t mean that you are competent at paperwork (administrative stuff), of which there is a lot in running a business. So, do you: A – Love paperwork; B – Don’t love it but don’t hate it; C – Hate it?
- Running a business brings on its share of worry. For instance, you can run short of cash at times, especially when starting out and growing. Does stress keep you awake at night? Would you be able to sleep soundly when cash shortages, staff problems, and other business challenges (of which there can be many) arise? A – I sleep like a baby regardless of worries and problems; B – I will lie awake sometimes in times of worry; C – I stress easily and cannot rest or sleep if stressed out.
- Staff management is an ongoing challenge in running a small business. Are you able to firmly lay down your expected standards of performance, not hesitate to kick butt, and fire someone when it is needed? A – For sure; B – Not easily but I can make myself do it; C – No, I am a wuss when it comes to dealing with staff.
- Not all customers are friendly, easy-going, and prompt-paying. You will have your share of rude, difficult, slow-paying, pain-in-the-neck customers that will stress you out. Are you willing to be assertive with bad customers to the point of telling them to take their business elsewhere? A – For sure; B – Not easily but if they push me far enough …; C – No, I avoid confrontation even when it is costing me.
- Suppliers of goods and services (as a business owner you have to deal with a long list of them) are not all pleasant. They can over-charge, short-deliver, be late, deliver damaged goods, and generally cause you stress. Do you think that you could be assertive with difficult suppliers to ensure that you do not get messed around or bullied? Could you tell them to smarten up or you will be taking your business elsewhere? A – For sure; B – I could if pushed far enough; C – I would be reluctant to confront suppliers even if they are causing me stress.
These 5 items are by no means the only ‘intangible’ issues with which you need to be able to cope, but hopefully they make the point. There is much to consider before you make the leap from having a job to having a business, or from having a small business (say a one-man show) and expanding to a bigger business. If you have too many ‘C’ scores you should seriously consider finding help for those areas.
Being your own boss and growing a business can be rewarding in many ways and a lot of fun. Taking risks and winning is exhilarating. But if you don’t have the stomach for it, you might be happier working hard at a good job with a good company.
Business ownership is not just about the numbers. Are you up for the ’emotional’ challenges?