Things you should not do when starting a business


As I am getting more and more inquiries related to starting a new business I thought of sharing few points with the readers who seek for advices and guidances from me. First of all I would like to thank them. I have personally written back to many of them. For the rest of them to whom I haven’t written back, this article may be useful. Let’s see the reasons that majority of them mention as why they would like to start a business. The reasons can be categorised into few segments. First one is requesting for ideas to start a business as they do not have a proper direction, secondly thinking starting a business is a solution to get rid of their bosses’ scolding and temporary work pressure, thirdly having money in hand and looking ways to invest it productively and lastly having a concept or an idea and looking ways to execute it in the real world.

Everything in this world depends on something. A company will invest further believing in it’s financial strength, a student believes in achieving good results believing that the parents and teachers will support, a family remains happy and comfortable believing the husband or father will protect them.

Similarly, as an Entrepreneur, many of us start the business believing in so many things. Hence I am writing this post to say in which you should not depend and start a business. I think this might give some answers to some of my readers’ questions.

With the aspiration to be your own boss everyone believe their gut feeling and leave the current job to start the business. This post will be suitable for who plan to start something without big capital or no capital also to people who believe their strength and skills to start a business.

1- Do not start a business thinking that the society will encourage you or support you.

Entrepreneurs are like inventors who did not fear to jump off a hill to test an airplane, who believed that they can fly despite the society’s criticisms. So when you are thinking of a start up do not just believe that the society as a whole will support you to grow. Society will start assess your failures more than the success. If you struggle at the beginning it will advice to go back to work. Similarly when the society says do not take risk or risk your family’s financial security for the sake of doing a business, you do not have to listen to that too.

2- Do not believe in luck all the time.

Remember, your hard work and focus will bring you success. In my point hard work with luck may bring you consistent success. Always have positive attitude towards anything and believe that positive power will bring luck or success to your business.

3- Do not wait for opportunities.

Create chances and cease thinking that chances and opportunities will find you. This world is full of opportunities. You have to ask for business and you have to find the opportunities. People sit and wait until the opportunity comes and knocks the door rather going extra miles to actively seek for it. When you network you build your personal brand and this will bring you more contacts and opportunities.

Allocate your time to seek for it. People just give up when they face a difficulty in business. In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity says Albert Aientien. If you think you do not have the expected skills then seek for it, develop the skills and then make use of the opportunity.

4- Do not expect others to motivate you.

When you are feeling down you have to do something to cheer you up. If you have kind and supportive people around you, you are lucky enough to move forward with their encouragement and advice. But if there is no one, remember you have to motivate yourself.

5- Do not believe in banks to start your business or to run the business.

In Sri Lanka I have seen most of the banks carry the so called tagline or motto saying “WE SUPPORT SME’s” etc. If you believe this and approach a bank for loan, even with a best idea and a realistic action plan, the results is very less likely to be positive. The banks would say we offer funds if your company’s turnover exceed 100 or 150 million rupees, or you have to produce assets or guarantors working for government sectors and much more. Though the banks say they support entrepreneurship, in most of the cases that’s not helping a start-up or a SME to begin or expand.

The bitter truth is, there are so many people out there without capital and only having the entrepreneurship drive to start something in their own.  Obtaining funds form banks once you establish yourself is easier but by that time you may not need the support form the bank. Though this may be acceptable from the banks’ point of view, the disappointing fact is the banks are not walking the talk. Ideally the banks should advertise as “WE SUPPORT ESTABLISHED ENTREPRENEURS” rather disappointing the start ups with false promise.

6- Do not start a business simply to show-off.

World will automatically recognise you once you achieve something. Do not expect people to come and praise you. Work hard and keep it covered, let your success make the noise.

7- Do not compare others with you when you are in your own.

If you are in corporate then yes, you can do that. When you are in your own you are unique. Do not spend unnecessarily just because your friend is spending, do not show off because your friend in doing so and do not buy items that are unnecessary for you. You have to plan your life and lead it in a way that benefits your business.

8- Do not expect your family to take part in your business.

Most people when they start business they bring their family members into the business or expect the family members to support. Remember that the entrepreneurship life is challenging and not easy as you think. Do not expect your loves ones to carry the burden with you. Let them live their dreams whilst your live yours.

Life as an Entrepreneur

Challenges, sorrows, failures, disappointments, success, risks, recognition, satisfaction etc these words are always entangled with an entrepreneur’s life. As much as you gain you lose the same. Sometimes joys, sometimes sorrow, sometimes confusions, sometimes challenges, life is not easy as you think. When travelling in this path, after some time if you turn back and see you will realize what you have earned as well as what you have lost.

Now I’m an entrepreneur. It’s nearly one year since I started to be on my own and just thought of writing this post today to share the difficulties and experience I underwent during this period.  I’m sure I would not have learned so much if I had worked for a company because I wouldn’t have taken such risk if I worked for someone. As an Entrepreneur, I faced so many challenges and there are heaps of risks accumulated in my list. I was always willing to take challenges not only these days even when I was schooling.  I guess this life further strengthen my challenging ability.

When I was working for a company I was in two minds i.e. a year back, whether to start my own venture or not. I know the decision I’m going to take has an opportunity cost. If I continue to work on my own definitely I can earn more than what I would have been getting by working in a company per month. However, I knew an entrepreneur’s life is not an easy one. I realized that always I cannot be in the safe zone. So many advices from people circled my mind. Some advised positively and many negatively. Some looked at this as an immature decision and some laughed at it. When I told I’m going to be my own, the biggest question people asked was “how you are going to survive?”. However, my gut feeling didn’t allow me to keep quiet and quit my decision. I know I can make it, but the big concern I had was about my parents and my girl. Even my parents were not in favour of my decision. They told me to try and see.  Generally, girls want their guys to be in a decent job with a safe zone life. It’s rare that they want the person whom they are going to marry to be an entrepreneur at his very early stage struggling to achieve the victory.  When I told the decision to my girl, “You can, we will rock “, that was the reply she told me. All the questions I had about my decision vanished away and I started to be on my own.

After struggling for 8 months I’m the happiest person these days with the smile thinking about my company. Now I have a brand of my own. I’m not going to say I have earned money but I’m happy about the growth of my brand. I can proudly say that I’m an owner of a brand.

I never compare my life to any other. Because I know each individual’s path of journey is totally different. I know now I’m no more in the safe zone. Now I have taken my brand to a certain extent. I have clients both locally and internationally. Apart from that “Epitom” is a quite a known brand in the HR sector of Sri Lanka. Those days handling foreign clients was a nightmare to me. Because it was very difficult to understand their language. These days I feel it’s pretty easy, one thing always there in my mind, all are human. Deals are done.

I’m very grateful to my cousin because he is the one who encouraged and supported me to get into the business with him. Now we both are in two different fields. We both meet up regularly and discuss the progress of our brands. Though we are not partners today still we share our experiences.” friend in need is a friend indeed” this is a common saying and I realized it as 100% true because of my friend who helped me to start my journey as an entrepreneur. Also, I’m thankful to my previous bosses who helped me and guided me in many occasions.

Whenever I’m disappointed and say “I’m totally fed up” I had an encouragement always. The words from my girl “Don’t worry we will rock” keep myself motivated which I feel as the real motivation exists in the word. It carries lots of value and energy. Still, a long path to go and  I know I have to answer so many people who are around me but I will try my best and work hard to keep the spirit going.

Few things I would like to share with people who are thinking of starting something of their own.

1-      Always keep in mind that money is not the ultimate thing, it’s the experience you earn.

2-      Try to avoid partnerships, but get good assistance and guidance from someone.

3-      Do not have second thoughts of what you are going to do.

4-      Always value your gut feeling, If it says yes for anything “GO FOR IT”.

5-      Careful about your competition, always monitor them.

6-      Hard work matters a lot, but you should believe in god too. Always start the day with a prayer.

7-      Make sure you are not away from family and friend. Be in touch with them (This I failed to do).

8-      Though you are struggling do not give up. One day you will succeed. It is always dark before dawn.

9-      Do not get discouraged by others words. Only action can win arguments. Prove them and show that they are wrong. Do not argue with others. You will lose your precious time.

10-  Always remember people helped you. Even a small help matters a lot.

11-  Do not reveal your secret to anyone. One day it might destroy you.

12-  In business, you will start something and end up in some other. That’s the entrepreneurship nature. But love what you do.

13-  Take big risks, the return is always high.

14-  Manage your cash flow properly. Keep reserves for future growth.

15-  Try to attend as much as external events. It will help you one day. Create your own network. Don’t place yourself in a short circle. World is too big.

16-  If you think the negatives in your mind are beating positives try to speak to someone who encourages you. Try avoiding speaking to the negative mindset people. Because their thoughts can destroy you.

17-  Listen and watch motivational videos and read articles about entrepreneurs. It will keep you in the game. That’s why people say if you want to get the real motivation to speak to an entrepreneur because they are the people always motivate themselves.

18-  Give rest to mind and thought. That is important for more productive days.

19-  Pay your overheads on time, do not keep any balances.

20-  People might say “You cannot be a Bill Gates”, Even if you cannot be you can have a try. Speaking from the safe zone is always easy. Forget about them.

21-  Create a clear vision and work towards it. When you see the success the best happiest person is always “YOU”.

22-  Always look for opportunities. It’s all around you.

23-  Until you establish yourself strong enough try to do one thing at a time. Do it correctly. Do not consider too many options at once. It will diversify your effort and bring you less success.

24-  Save some cash for marketing.

25-  Never fall into debts. It will destroy your liquidity.

26-  Try to get the help from others but give the return back. If you didn’t do that then you will be stuck in the middle.

These are some key learning points I have studied during this one year. I didn’t lose any but instead, I gained so much. New set of people, a new pattern of thinking, new ways of implementing things, international contacts, out of box thinking, understanding of so many people, market, the taste of failures etc.  It’s not about money, it’s about the experience which are worthy than money. In the entrepreneurship life, you will lose money. Money won’t come as you expect. It will take its momentum first to get the control.

“The Secret” and “The Power” those are the two books given me the control over this life. Sometimes mind works in a negative way. If you feel so, just take a deep breath and continue your work. You will see the real difference. I would recommend you all to read these books / even you can buy the movie at Liberty Plaza. Listen/read these, your world will change.

To get the outcome of your hard work it will take time. The negative thoughts might take you away from your vision. Do never give up. Walt Disney took 10 years to come up with the world loving character Micky Mouse and even he had pulled off from the company he worked for saying he is not having creativity. Steve Jobs got pulled from his own company later again he became the CEO of the business. It’s all about hard work, but in the entrepreneur life, it will take some time for you to get the maximum out from the hard work.

Entrepreneurs remember one thing,

“Winner Win by pushing their limits until the limits become the norm