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Challenges faced by start-ups



Starting a business comes with a host of harsh challenges, albeit rewarding challenges. This can be very daunting for an inexperienced, new and young entrepreneur who is going into business for the first time. He hasn’t experienced such challenges before.
The co-founder of Y Combinator Paul Graham said: “The odds of getting from launch to liquidity without some kind of disaster happening are one in a thousand. So don’t get demoralised.”

Definitely there will be challenges. What you need is to persevere. I will be discussing some of the challenges commonly encountered by most start-ups. It’s better to be forewarned so that you know what you are getting into.
Getting into business entails moving out of your comfort zone. If you are employed you might have to leave your employment and see that your venture gets off the ground. You can’t manage your business and your career at the same time.

One will definitely suffer. And it’s likely to be your new venture that will suffer. So you will need to take sacrifices and leave your well-paying job and start from the bottom to run your business venture.
Leaving your job to do something very unpredictable, something risky is very scary, but you will have to do it if you want to design your future as an entrepreneur.

This is the first hurdle-walking into the unknown. So make sure you have made up your mind to take such a bold move.
You might have to burn the bridges so that there is no turning back to the proverbial “Egypt” when the wilderness gets tough.
Starting a business begins with a great idea to satisfy a need or fill a gap in the market. But to start the ball rolling needs finance. It can be a very big challenge to find the right investor to help you out.

Some investors demand very stiff conditions or they want a big stake in your venture before they part with their cash and invest in your business idea.
This could be a hindrance. You might have to do 101 investor pitches before you get the required funding. Or else if you do it might not cover everything that needs funding so this might require you to raise some of the cash yourself.

You need to think through all your funding options so that you get the right one which will not restrict your business growth.
You need the right team when starting a business. The challenge is you might not have run a business before so you don’t know what makes a good team.

Picking the right team for a start-up is stressful and difficult. It’s not just about picking skilled people, it’s about picking the right individuals with the right chemistry, who share your vision and are passionate about it and have the right culture so that when you work you work as a team.
Your team members should be able to carry the pain when the getting gets tough. You don’t need team members who will jump ship when things get awry because there is no cash or the business is taking inordinately long to make a dime.

Talking about finding the right team Marc Benioff, founder of Saleforce said: “The secret to successful hiring is this: look for the people who want to change the world.”
Being an entrepreneur you need to hit the ground running. There is no time to sit on your laurels even when things seem to be going well.
There is competition out there. Someone is not sleeping thinking how he can do better in what you are doing.

So, as the founder of your startup, you’ll be expected to come up with new ideas every time to be ahead of the competition. When a competitor comes knocking in your industry you have to come up with appropriate responses to avoid being swept off the market.
As an entrepreneur you need on-the-spot creative thinking. You need to think ahead. Being inexperienced can weigh down on you. It will be a challenge to be thinking on the spot and thinking ahead at the same time.

The other challenges will be the uncertainty surrounding your venture. Will the product adequately meet the need you have identified? How long will the business exist?  Will the business be profitable? How will you fend for yourself and the team members? These are some of the unknowns which you will have to grapple with as an entrepreneur just venturing into business.
Going into business can be a lonely pursuit. You only notice this once you are into it. You tend to work lots of hours. You might end up neglecting your family and your social life might have to grind to a halt.

During such times you need to ensure that your family is with you to make the burden light.
You also will need a mentor to help you along the way when you need direction and when you need a helping hand when things get a bit tough.
As your business starts running and is growing you will need to move from being entrepreneurial and start putting rules to guide your business. You need to draw up policies and procedures that will guide your operations. This will enable delegation to be done.
With rules and guidelines you will be able to assign responsibilities to your team mates. Policies and procedures are very necessary for every business to ensure stability.

An entrepreneur needs to be making tough decisions for the business. This can be very challenging because some of these decisions might impact the lives of your team members.
Nevertheless you still have to make them. Decision making can be very stressful. Your decisions have to be timely and quite often are made with insufficient information. As a new and young entrepreneur you will be forced to make hundreds of decisions daily. You therefore need to be prepared for such levels of stress.

As you get into business be prepared for some of these challenges. They are not insurmountable. You can resolve these challenges. It just need dogged determination, focus, perseverance and dedication. Work through these obstacles and you are on your way to a successful entrepreneur.
Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management.
He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

l For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles or in strategic planning facilitation please contact him on the following contacts: or +266 62110062 or on WhatsApp +266 58881062

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