Don’t underestimate how long it takes to get a business up and running

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Cape Infanta. 18 cm x 27 cm. Artist: Chesney Bradshaw

People want the quick fix. They want things to happen now. But when it comes to growing a business, be careful about underestimating the amount of work that it involves.

If we consider the natural world, you will find that a tree doesn’t grow overnight. It can take many years. A pecan nut tree, for example, will take about 5 to 7 years before it bears fruit.

Why should human processes be any different? An entrepreneur who starts and grows several businesses says it takes between 3 to 5 years before one of his small businesses becomes profitable. By the way, he then sells it and moves on to his next business idea.

You should consider that a new business is going to take three times longer to get started than what you originally thought. It will also cost twice as much as you originally planned.

Why does it take so long? Well, if it’s a straightforward retail business, you must find premises, sign leases, order stock, produce signage, obtain shelving and recruit staff. You’ll need to open a banking account for your business, go through the required legal paperwork in registering your business, notify the tax authorities and deal with a host of others who are eager to get their cut.

If it’s a new product, then it’s a whole different kettle of fish. You have to start product design, produce a prototype, test your prototype, do a market trial, tweak your product, and then prepare your marketing plan and business plan.

This is where you need to have an action plan or action schedule. You need to break down your project into smaller tasks so that you have a daily action list that you can work on. It helps not to be overwhelmed by all the things you need to do. You can work on each task at a time and slowly and surely you will start to make progress.

Yes, it’s a lot of hard work and requires much determination and perseverance to start and finish the project list for a new business. But in the end as you complete the required tasks you will feel satisfaction that you are getting somewhere. And when you pass the halfway mark you will realise how far you have come and will be excited to accomplish what you set out to do.

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