Top three challenges start-ups face – and how to overcome them

Gavin Bell, founder of social media agency Blue Cliff Media. Picture: Contributed

Gavin Bell, founder of social media agency Blue Cliff Media. Picture: Contributed

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There’s no doubt that starting a business is hard – working long, unsociable hours isn’t exactly what most people would call fun.

But as an entrepreneur, your business isn’t a job or a career – it’s a lifestyle. The ups and downs are all part of the parcel.

There are many challenges you’ll face launching a business. I’ve taken some time to speak to fellow business owners to ask them what their main challenges were. Interestingly, I got the same responses from everyone:

Current commitments

I’ve been quite lucky in this respect, as being a 21-year-old I don’t carry many commitments and responsibilities compared to my elders. Launching a business when you already have a job, a mortgage and kids, for example, can lead to a very stressful situation.

On one hand, you want to leave the job and focus all your efforts on your new venture. But on the other, you have to pay your mortgage and put food on the table for your family.

At the end of the day, if you’re serious about starting a business, something has to give. You’ll either have to sacrifice your sleep, family time or your income. You might have to come in from work at 6pm and work on the business from 7pm to 2am. For some, that’s not practical. But if you’re serious about going into the world of business, you’ve got to find the time to work on it somewhere.

READ MORE: Three reasons why Scotland’s a great place for start-ups

When I first started Blue Cliff Media, I was lucky enough to have a casual job. This meant I was able to cut my hours down gradually as the business started to grow. In the early days, I was also able to simply take the day off if I wanted to attend an event or if I had an important meeting.

Fear

Getting over the fear is the most common challenge faced when launching a business. The fear that your service might not be good enough; the fear of humiliation if it doesn’t work; the fear that you might not make any money. The list could go on.

Getting over the internal fear is crucial if you want to launch a business. If you can’t get over it, it’ll cripple you. The entrepreneurial journey is a roller-coaster ride and you need to have thick skin so you don’t fold at the first hurdle.

Fear comes with responsibility. The more commitments you have in life, the more fear you’ll have in things going wrong – it’s only natural. Luckily, as I mentioned above, I launched my business at a time when I had little responsibilities and so didn’t have much fear about setting out. Combine that with the fact I knew I had a casual job to work in meant I was able to build the business in a practical way.

Earning trust

This is something I feel is often overlooked in business. Without trust, you have no business. If people don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. It’s that simple.

And trust takes time to build. First you’ve got to meet people, get them to like you, then make them feel like they know you, before they’ll ever trust you. And when you start a business, it can be tricky trying to sell to people before that trust is established and so you have to look at ways to speed up the process.

Writing blogs, filming YouTube videos and posting on social media are all ways in which to do this. People consume the content you create and, depending on the quality of that content, start to see you as an authority in your space.

In conclusion, there’s no doubt that starting a business is hard. It’s a massive time and energy commitment, but the highs and lows of running a start-up are something that no entrepreneur would change. Every entrepreneur faces these issues, but once you overcome them, the world is your oyster.

• Gavin Bell is the founder of social media agency Blue Cliff Media

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