The quote “if it was easy then everyone would do it” is often mistaken as a business quote referring to the difficulty in running your own business penned by some learned Harvard Business school practitioner. However, as many will know this quote is taken from the film A League of their own, starring Genna Davis, Lori Petty and Tom Hanks. A film about two sisters and their coach trying to build a professional baseball team against the odds.
There can be many parallels drawn from this film hence the use of the quote but as those who have watched the film will know, and for those who have not spoiler alert! it has a happy ending, whereas with business 60% of start-ups fail within their first 3 years! Add to this the current and unprecedented economic climate and you’d be hard pressed to understand why anyone would ever want to start a new business least of all today!
Whilst the same cannot be said of all sectors, the tech industry has seen many examples of business being created during difficult economic times. IBM and HP are certainly notable examples and have gone on to dominate the sector from their humble and precarious beginnings.
Proof it can be done, and whilst it’s not for everyone, owning and building your own business, in any economic climate, is hugely rewarding and certainly motivates me each and every day; but why?
To answer this we must go back to October 2015 when I successfully concluded the sale of my previous business along with my friends and business partners; The huge sigh of relief and words of “never again” where heard around the room and I would have never thought I would ‘start again’ but the reality is that itch never really goes away; once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur they say, or should that be a glutton for punishment!
Ok, so you don’t start planning your next business as soon as the ink is dry on the sale of the last or I certainly didn’t. I enjoyed a number of years and learned a lot, working with the new owners integrating the business and in ensuring our colleagues, partners and customers remained content but that itch never goes away.
Planning a new business isn’t done overnight, for me this started at the beginning of the year, before ‘lockdown’ and ‘furlough’ became household phrases. Yet once committed, I found myself planning to launch a business during the worst economic downturn in a century. The world had changed! Completing a simple process like registering the business with Company House, registering for VAT or setting up a new business bank account, was like ploughing through treacle. Supporting organisations had reduced staffing levels and reduced services or were focused inwardly to support their existing customers during this difficult time. Things just took longer!
As the pandemic took hold and not knowing how long the lockdown would be in place, fearing an impact on our launch and early trading, like many other albeit established businesses, I looked to the government for support. As I wrote earlier starting a business takes planning; planning that started before the mandatory date for business to be eligible for government support. But not one pound of financial support was offered for start-ups like us. SME’s and start-ups are the lifeblood of the UK economy, not providing financial help for these start-ups will surely be felt by the economy in months and years to come, wouldn’t it?
Despite this we ploughed on, focusing on building out services and meeting partners and customers. Well that would be the normal direction of travel but at a time when ‘normal’ is about as far as it could be from ‘normal’ adding more challenges. Luckily, as a tech company we have the experience and tools and are familiar in working securely from almost anywhere and quickly adapted to home working. Utilising technology to build the business, meet prospective partners and customers whilst using social media to gain exposure and drive interest. The result, our launch on 3rd June this year went as planned and whilst we still have lots to do, we have the determination and experience to see us through.
So, why do people put themselves through the pain to build and run their own business?
Well, for me it’s about treating your business like one of your children! Forever nurturing and developing. You never stop learning and it never stops being ‘yours’. But most of all It’s that overwhelming feeling of achievement when you experience the ‘firsts’; Your first staff member, your first partner, your first customer!
Yes, starting and running a business is hard, especially in 2020, “it’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Hard is what makes it great!”