If there is anything a Hispanic business owner knows, it is that not everything will go well.
You will have setbacks, and this is why the entrepreneur is, and has to be, a resilient person. You will face challenges early on as you first get going and that is seemingly the scariest because they can prevent you from even getting started. But the challenges you face later will test you even more, including but not limited to the impact that external forces like weather, earthquakes, politics, war and big swings in the macro economy can have on your business.
Here are seven small business challenges and how to deal with them:
1. What you need:
Resilience, determination, patience, flexibility, endurance: these are all traits a small business owner will need. But above all you will need emotional strength.
You will need emotional strength and stability as much as your professional skills or financial backing, because many of the blows you receive will be felt personally. Employees will stab you in the back, people you thought were friends will turn on you unexpectedly, clients will dump you for no reason, you may lose business you thought you had in the bag. So you will have to balance those events out with unexpected wins, people being especially nice or appreciative. So both good and bad things will happen to you and you can’t go crazy happy or crazy sad.
You have to stay steady, you have to keep your calm, and you have to trust in yourself.
2. It isn’t easy:
To say the least the life of an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. You have to be a pretty solid person. But even solid people clearly need to have emotional support.
This can come from your friends and family. Having someone to talk to about your professional life in a personal way can be very important, not the least of which is having access to a second or even a third point of view. But this emotional support can come from other sources, such as a mentor, your peers, and if you don’t have access to these, it might not be a bad idea to go out and get it, perhaps in the form of professional help. If Tony Soprano, the ultimate tough guy, needed a psychologist, you can let yourself admit you need help.
3. Ups and downs:
Business will have its own life – ups and downs, wins and losses. But some of these events can have a significant emotional impact – a loss can be a fierce personal blow, particularly when you lose projects to a competitor you don’t respect, or when you really needed a win at a particular moment in time to help stabilize your business, to prevent layoffs or to pay back loans.
A win can mean having to invest to hire or add equipment and that can have its own emotional perils because you can start to feel stretched thin and over-exposed. Though all of this you have to accept the ups and downs as part of what you took on when you opened your business. It comes with the territory. The secrets to survival include not making too much of a win and not crying too hard when you lose.
If you took on the mission of starting a small business, it’s because you believe enough in yourself (and what you do) to expect that you could succeed. It doesn’t mean you will, but no win should make you think you are the Queen of the Universe and no loss should make you feel like you are dirt.
Not every Hispanic business owner will be good at everything, and you don’t get to practice your core professional skills all the time.
You have to spend most of your days dealing with investors, your bankers, your landlords, your employees and your vendors. Client face time and doing your actual work is the fun part. The hard parts are the spreadsheets, the vendor forms, the financial stuff and staffing. This may be where having a partner with complementary skills can save your skin.
Having partners can be crucial, especially if he/she/they have complementary skills and a very different personality than yours — which is kind of the whole point of the partnership. But while this arrangement can save you, this is inherently an awful lot like a marriage, and we have seen enough statistics to know what that can lead to. There are books out there plus articles and other online and in-person resources to help business partners, but dealing with the emotional intricacies of a partnership will always have to be a line item on your to-do list.
Many aspects of being a small business owner are tough, but perhaps the hardest is dealing with your employees. This can be the most satisfying part of your job or the most horrible, depending on the random confluence of personalities and situations.
There are scads of books and presentations you can access from real experts on how to deal with employees, but aside from always being careful to follow the law and your own personal ethics, a lot of this will come from you and how you interact with people.
6. The stab in the back:
Treacherous behavior is hard to plan for.
You can be prepared with careful legal documentation of all of your agreements and policies, protection for your professional secrets and non-compete agreements. But even with all of that, you can’t always predict what a business partner, a formerly friendly rival, a client or your employees might do.
It can seem sometimes that the more honest you are, the most faithful and reliable and concerned you are, the worse people will treat you. You simply can’t let other people’s choices define you. You have to stay true to yourself, your principles, your professional standards and your own beliefs, and deal with the negative stuff like any other business problem. You will solve it one way or another. But you can’t let it get you down for long. Besides, your own personal happiness is the best revenge.
7. Success or failure:
We all know that not every business will succeed. Some restaurants stay open for fifty years, others open and close in just a few months. Some businesses succeed wildly and become huge and go franchise, others grow just a bit, still others remain constant and others will fail. Is it you? Is it the times? Is it the growing need being met by the perfect solution? Perhaps it has to do with your connections, your expectations or your circumstances. Changes are all three had a lot to do with it. But making a lot of money doesn’t make you a good person, and a business failure doesn’t make you a bad person either.
Hang in there. You can do this.