If you’ve been told that running a business is easy, you’ve been lied to. Starting a business and building it into a successful one will place you in a position to face countless challenges and obstacles. If you thought the journey would be easy, this can be discouraging for new entrepreneurs. Fortunately, even though it is often difficult, running a business is not impossible.
What is the Hardest Thing About Running a Business?
Many things are challenging about running a business. From establishing yourself in your market or creating sustainable business growth to achieving profitability, the business landscape can be difficult to navigate. However, an even more difficult challenge is to remain inspired and motivated, even despite business setbacks.
Setbacks are inevitable and you should expect things to not always go as planned. If you’ve maintained your inspiration and motivation, this can be used as fuel as you seek solutions to these challenges. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are faced with business owner burnout, which can make it harder to see past the feeling of exhaustion, frustration, and discontent associated with this occupational phenomenon.
How Long Should You Give a New Business to Succeed?
If you’re thinking: “I want to give up on my business,” give yourself some time. It’s very likely that your business will not be an overnight success, but this doesn’t mean you can’t achieve success in the long run. For most businesses, they don’t become profitable until year two or three, which means if you’re just starting out, you’ve got a ways to go.
During the first year, focus on smaller wins, like building your customer base, incorporating your business, or developing a website. In the second year, you’ll want to focus on achieving growth milestones. If your business isn’t growing, it’s not a good sign and doesn’t point to long-term success. But, if you are still in business after two years, you’ve already made it longer than the 20% of businesses that fail within this time frame.
How Do You Fix a Failing Small Business?
There are many reasons that a business may be on its way to failure, but the most common are access to capital, no market fit, tough competition, and a flawed business model. Even if you think your business is failing, you can reevaluate your business and make adjustments to turn things around. Before shutting down is even on the table, put your effort into saving the business if you have the same motivation and passion as when you started. You can start by seeking to:
- Transform Your Mindset: A business on the verge of failure is discouraging. However, one of the most important things you can do is to develop a positive growth mindset. This means that you’re willing and open to learning from your mistakes, you’re ready to be flexible when things don’t go as planned, and you’re committed to keeping yourself inspired.
- Understand Your Customers: Have you noticed a decline in customer satisfaction? Take the time to understand why they have negative feedback and seek to identify strategies to solve these issues.
- Evaluate Your Finances: The financial health of a business has a significant impact on the longevity of a business. You’ll want to carefully assess your financial situation by taking a close look at income and expenses. Track what’s coming in and going out and then identify which expenses are necessary vs. which can be eliminated to free up additional capital. You’ll also need to create a budget and follow it to maximize the capital you have.
- Pivot If Necessary: If your business is falling short, pivoting can be difficult but gets you back on track. This could include changing your business plan, identifying a new target audience, entering a new vertical, or even selling a new product.
Before you completely give up on your business, take the time to assess whether things can be turned around. You might be surprised to find that making adjustments to your strategy and business practices can give your business a new lease on life.
When Should a Business Shut Down?
An unfortunate reality of owning a business is that sometimes, the business is unsustainable. Closing your business shouldn’t be the first resort when you begin to feel entrepreneur fatigue. If you’ve tried to remedy burnout to no avail or you feel like your business is failing, giving up on entrepreneurship may be a last resort when nothing else works. Here are some valid reasons to consider leaving a business:
- Finances: If you’re a few years in, your business is still not turning a profit, and you’ve also exhausted your financial resources, it may no longer be sustainable. Even if the business idea is great, you want to avoid putting yourself into personal debt and financial trouble to support the business.
- Market Conditions: Has your customer base dwindled or has demand for your product or services fallen considerably since you opened your business? If the market no longer has a need for what you sell, the first choice is to pivot to address new needs in the market. However, if you’re unable to do this successfully, this could be a sign that your business will not be able to survive in the long run.
- Employee Morale: Take a look at your employees. Talented, dedicated employees are important to any business, but are they happy? If you notice key employees leaving for new opportunities or the overall morale in the workplace is low, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
- Competition: For small businesses in a saturated market, it can often be difficult to compete with larger, established businesses. These larger businesses likely have more resources and can offer products or services at a more competitive price point that can win over your potential customers. If this is the case and you’re unable to bring costs down to compete effectively, it may be time to close up shop.
Should I Close My Business and Get a Job?
Running a business is hard, but deciding when to give up on a business is even harder. After all, you’ve dedicated countless hours and devoted your life to building this business. However, here are a few signs that closing your business may be a viable option for your future:
- You’ve unsuccessfully tried to cure business owner burnout. In the course of running a business, it’s not uncommon to feel burned out. In fact, most entrepreneurs – 63% of them – report feeling burned out. However, if you’re unable to overcome the feelings of burnout and you’re continually exhausted, stressed out, and ineffective at your job, this is a sign that quitting your business may be the best option for your long-term well-being. Keep in mind that this is not a decision to take lightly, so evaluating anything that could be contributing to the way you feel about your business can help resolve issues if possible.
- You don’t love your business. If you’re continuing to run your business because you feel like it’s your only option, this could be a sign that quitting could be the right choice. If you’re putting all your time and energy into a business you no longer feel passionate about, you could be missing out on other opportunities in your professional life, whether that’s a new business venture or a new role that you could be uniquely qualified for.
- You’re not getting a return on your investments. Are you continually investing money into a business that keeps losing it? This could be a good sign it’s better to cut your losses and close your business before you begin to accumulate personal debt. While it’s natural to want to see your business through, if it’s unprofitable and continues to lose you money, this will often become unsustainable in the long run. This is where the “never give up on your business” mentality can become a financially dangerous decision.
Why Do Business Owners Burn Out?
Burnout is a very real phenomenon – so much so that the World Health Organization included it in the 2019 International Classifications of Diseases as an occupational syndrome. Many factors can contribute to business burnout, however, the most prevalent are obsession, social isolation, uncertainty, and overworking.
While it’s good to feel passionate about your business, according to the US Chamber of Commerce, obsessive passion can be very detrimental to entrepreneurs. Rather than being fueled by enjoyment and enthusiasm for your business, obsessive passion is driven by a desire for money or social status. This makes it hard for entrepreneurs to step away and take a break to charge. This can often lead to overworking, which can lead to mental exhaustion that can creep into other areas of your life.
Social isolation is also a causative factor for burnout because it may make it difficult to communicate the challenges you’re facing with other people in your life. At the same time, long hours and rigorous work schedules can also create isolation that can negatively affect entrepreneurs.
Business owner burnout can also be caused by the uncertainty of running your own business. As a business owner, you ultimately play a role in the business’s success or failure. Still, external factors like market or economic conditions can also play a role and challenge business owners in ways that may be difficult to navigate. Additionally, uncertainty can stem from not having a plan in place to deal with any worst-case scenarios that could unexpectedly arise.
What To Do When You Are Stuck in Business?
If you’re feeling stuck, keep in mind that this is something that many people feel from time to time. The trick is to identify why you have these feelings and seek solutions that can help you keep your business on track. The first thing you can do is to evaluate how you’re talking to yourself. If you’re feeling stuck and trapped by your situation, try to positively reframe how you’re thinking and talking to yourself in a way that can help you seek a solution.
Another valuable way to become “unstuck” is to find someone who inspires you. It can be valuable to find a mentor who can help you continue to grow as an entrepreneur and overcome difficult business challenges. If you don’t have someone who can serve as a mentor, try joining local business groups that you’ll be able to turn to when you need help.
One such resource is 3to5 Club, a collaborative learning group for serious business owners and entrepreneurs. 3to5 Club seeks to connect like-minded entrepreneurs and provide guidance that empowers them to rediscover their passion for their business, the tools needed to make more money in less time, and the support needed for entrepreneur burnout recovery.
Is It Better to Have a Job or Own a Business?
The answer to this question is subjective and is often different for everyone. Some people may find that their life is best when they have a job, while others find greater satisfaction in owning a business.
For many people, a selling point of opening a business is that they can be their own boss. They feel that they’ll have the freedom to do what they want, whenever they want. However, owning a business takes commitment and requires a significant amount of attention for it to grow. This may mean, at least at the beginning, you’ll work odd or long hours as you focus your attention on business development. If you have your own business, there are also greater opportunities to be creative and learn new skills since you’re not focused on the same duties every day and often wear many hats as your business grows.
Still, owning a business isn’t right for everyone. If you’re not motivated or committed to running the business, then you’re better off working for someone else. Your business will eventually fail if you’re neglecting it. Similarly, you’ll need to be unafraid to make mistakes, since as you learn more about running your business, there will inevitably be some obstacles you’ll need to navigate.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why owning a business may not be best suited for you. Since there is no right answer, you’ll just have to identify why you’re thinking of creating your own business before you dive in too deep.