In keeping with the theme from my last article, this week I wanted to discuss another important aspect of starting your own business. This one, however, may be even more controversial than last week’s post because it will probably feel like I am attacking your family; particularly, I am about to attack your baby and it’s not gonna feel good.
Being an entrepreneur myself, I know the pride that comes with starting your business or creating your product: seeing your logo on a sign, seeing reviews on social media, reading your awesome title on a business card out loud. Owner. President. It’s as good a feeling as having your kid become POTUS.
BUT I am about to take that business card and rip it into hundreds of little pieces right in front of your face. Well, not me but I’m gonna ask you to do it. Go ahead – try it.
How did that feel? I bet it was a devastating feeling. But as an entrepreneur, you’re gonna need to get used to it, but not always for negative reasons. Let me explain.
My first business was a tanning salon. Yes, I actually sold sunshine in the Sunshine State. I planned for over a year, researching the industry, trends, viability in my market, competition, location, and much much more. I wrote a 65-page business plan, and I was very proud of that. Even the bank loan specialists were impressed with the plan and many asked for copies to keep, even after denying me a loan. I’ll get into more details on that in another post, but there are two important points here. First, I opened the business with my fiancée at the time (again, a future post will focus on starting a business with friends and family). My second problem was actually related to the first: my fiancée felt all those giddy things I mentioned in the second paragraph above, and she wanted to avoid feeling what I mentioned in the third.
When the business grew to a point where I felt it was time to expand (i.e., a second location, franchising the brand, etc.) she did not want anyone else to have a controlling interest in the company. Not even 5%. And to avoid a lengthy discussion or fight, I went along with it.
Then, about a year later, our relationship came to an end. We had a brief discussion about the business, and I told her to keep it. Most of my family and friends believe that was a mistake. But, an entrepreneur needs to be able to see when a decision or product or service is going to create a hemorrhage that could prove to be his or her own personal extinction asteroid. I had cut my losses and moved on; I knew I could open another tanning salon if I wanted to, and eventually buy her out – but I never cared for the tanning business.
Had I tried to fight for a share of that business, I’d probably still be fighting for it ten years later, and only the lawyers would be making any money off of it. Thing is, I had planned for this (and many other crazy scenarios) in my business plan. I’d even planned for an often-missed “best case scenario” (in which the business grows too quickly to be sustainable). The tanning salon is still afloat, but it’s not making my ex a millionaire by any means.