You’ve surely heard the old adage, “No pain, no gain.” While normally applied to physical activities, it can also apply to starting your business in the midst of a recession. There will be pain – but the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term. Already, there are signs that the freeze of our current economic winter is starting to thaw, and the reality is that six percentage points of decline in GDP is not a 50% decline – no matter how the media wants to peddle the numbers. It’s time to get over the fact that things are slow and get on with what you need to do now to enjoy the fruits of the economic spring and summer that will be here soon.
So why should you focus on the long-term gain of business ownership versus the short-term pain of the current recession? Let me count the ways:
1. Business is still the best wealth-building vehicle ever created.
You could get rich working for someone else, but the numbers are against you. Using the new definition of “rich” (meaning an annual income of R1 million or more), you could count on one hand the number of actual salaried positions that could pay you that amount of money – and that salary number is typically capped, unless you can tap into a bonus pool.
However, running your own business offers you an opportunity to grow your income as much as you possibly can. There are no limits to the types of revenue streams you can develop in your own enterprise, and there are tax advantages you have as an owner that simply aren’t available to you as an employee.
2. Business allows you to leverage your greatest strengths – and overcome your most glaring weaknesses.
In running your own company, you’ll soon discover you can’t do it all; you’ll need to develop systems and tools to make everything work. This will force you to think differently about your skills and abilities and how best to set up an environment that is at all times productive, efficient, profitable and systemised. How do you do it? Learn from the hundreds and thousands of “how to” materials available online, in your library or in your current network of associates and friends. I like to say there are no secrets – just information you don’t know yet. And if your weakness is learning, being accountable to yourself and others or understanding how to sell or get leads through your door – you will soon discover the need to overcome those constraints… or you won’t be in business long.
3. Recessions are short-term.
Recoveries are long-term. I often say there is more money made in a downturn than is ever made in a boom – and that’s because the good companies in a recession soak up all the mind share, market share and, more importantly, wallet share of weak companies. They also enjoy the “ride” coming out of the downturn, because recoveries historically tend to last four to five times longer than any recession.
In any market economy, the short-term pain is just that: short-term. But the benefits of working out the fundamentals and getting your business model right will give you security and profits for the long-term, and equip you with the learning needed to get “lean and mean” when the cycle slows again.
4. Great successes are often achieved by “doing the opposite.”
There is a famous Seinfeld episode where the hapless George decides to do the opposite of what he has always done – and finds it leads him to great success. The fact is, you’ll never get abnormal results by being normal and if we are to use the R1 million benchmark again as an example, less than 5% of the population currently makes that kind of money. In the old “bell curve” you probably remember from school – that 5% outlier would be an abnormal result, and the remaining annual incomes would comfortably settle in the middle around the average or median score. To break out of normal and average, you need to do something exceptional that others aren’t doing. Part of that is getting the right mindset. Right now, the “normal” mindset is “doom and gloom,” waiting for someone or something to come up with some great solution to solve all economic ills. Decide right now to “do the opposite” – by realising the only person who can cure your economic illness is you. Then resolve to do everything in your power to start producing “abnormal” results.
5. Business is one of the most creative endeavours you could ever undertake – or attempt to master.
People look in awe at artists and what they are able to create. But in some ways, successful business people are far more artistic and creative than most people could ever imagine.
Think about it for a minute. Great entrepreneurs take invisible ideas, turn them into tangible products or services, fulfil the needs and desires of their customers, hire and employ tens, dozens or thousands of team members to assist them and live to profit another day. There are few things more purely creative than that. Mastering that process, however, is an entirely different endeavour. And after more than 30 years in business with some awesome successes and some fairly massive failures, I am still learning, growing, improving and striving to master my craft.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you start slowly or start big, the key is to start. Get over your hesitation, stop your procrastination and get moving.