How to make a small business? Give me a big one.
April 11, 2010 3:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm a small-time entrepreneur. I have great small business ideas that I invest time and money into developing. But once the business has started and shown potential something happens.

It's like I become fearful of its success and the responsibility entailed in maintaining it. I allow normal setbacks to turn into big ones until I have an excuse to close up 'shop'. I even sometimes hide from customers.

I have an online business selling widgets that has good google rating and I actually really like all the aspects of it, but I have somehow lost confidence in my ability to maintain and develop it. It's now whithering under months of neglect.

I'm also about to start a local service business which will probably go the way of the others (there are half a dozen going back years before the online widget business) but it doesn't stop me diving in head first.

I would like to understand why I back off. Is it fear of success? Is it burn-out after the enthralling and addictive creation phase? My loudmouth internal critic says I'm just a slacker who can't follow-through. Is it right?

Please help me work out what's going wrong and maybe ways to fix it.
posted by doost to Work & Money (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You need a business partner.
posted by gene_machine at 3:49 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hire people to do the day to day boring stuff?
posted by bradbane at 3:55 PM on April 11, 2010

There's maybe some fear-of-success hoo-hah going on but you can always rest easy knowing that you don't have to grow. Maybe your whatever is tied to growing past a certain, let me say, "business intensity." So take it easy. Get more than one little thing going at a time and just let them stay small.
posted by rhizome at 4:00 PM on April 11, 2010

Maybe starting businesses is your strength, but running them is not. I don't think there's anything wrong with that... how could one person be good at everything.

Work with your strengths. You could try bringing in other people to help you run things after you've taken care of the start-up phase.
posted by Theloupgarou at 4:05 PM on April 11, 2010

It's more fun to start new things than do the same-old, same-old day-to-day.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:12 PM on April 11, 2010

Start businesses with people who want to start businesses under the mutual assumption that you're out after year 1 but retain x% of the ownership, or will be bought out.
posted by thorny at 5:18 PM on April 11, 2010

Your Lazy.

No Seriously, you are...

You're into something when its fresh, new, exciting, but as it starts to become mundane, routine, the usual, you get lazy and wonder off for your next big rush.

Possible solutions

1) Get a business partner(s)
2) Sell your start ups
3) Get a normal job
4) Man up and do the work on your existing business!

Good Luck

(P.S so the word "lazy" may seem harsh.... but look deep within.... do you disagree?)
posted by crewshell at 10:50 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Following on what crewshell said:

So what if you're lazy?

From my perspective, you strike me as a learning-curve type of person - you're fascinated with learning how to do something, but once you're over the hump and you've acquired the skill, you start looking for a new challenge.

There are plenty of personality types out there, and successful entrepreneurs take many different forms. What's important is that you recognize what you're good at, and what you're not good at. Then either a) get good at the stuff you stink at, or b) find someone else to help with that stuff.

So day-to-day operations isn't your thing.

a) Find a way to make it challenging and interesting to you.

b) Find someone to do that.

c) alternatively, sell the business and move on.

Whatever you do, it's important at this point to have a plan, and to have goals. Recognize what your challenges are, and come up with a plan of action.

People are motivated by many different things. You know the guys who love to buy old jalopys, fix them up, and then sell them? It's because they love tinkering and working on cars, not collecting them. Everyone is different.

There's absolutely nothing wrong selling the business and moving on to the next thing that interests you. Who said you had to manage your creations forever?

And if you can't sell now, find someone to run it. Who knows, maybe they'll be the one who eventually buys you out.

Good luck!
posted by swngnmonk at 11:26 PM on April 11, 2010

I believe people like you are called Serial Entrepreneurs who go from one business to another.

What you do seem to be struggling with is that the thrill of learning dies down for you right after you have managed to overcome the hump of starting the business.

Yes, one option would be to sell the business,
the other to, hand it over to someone else for a partnership (whether you be a sleeping partner or a working partner shooting out fires as they arise along with your partner. As a sleeping partner you can provide advice and reap the profits without doing much)
the other to, hand it over to a charity among other things. (let me know if you are interested in handing it over to someone else, i have someone who is interested).

Alternatively, you could focus on something else after starting a business,
focus on learning to keep the business running on a daily basis without the need for much human input.

That becomes a new learning goal and whatever businesses you still have running around but neglected, you can focus on improving the business processes so that only the mundane stuff is left and for that mundane stuff you can hire a worker at minimum wage (or what you feel comfortable) and let them do the mundane stuff like packing and shipping and attaching labels.

Your goals is then not to maintain the business but implement an almost self-sustaining process with little human input. That, fellow mefite, will take time.

And, you *may* have add because you like all ADDers like stimulation.

tl;dr version
Change the focus of your goal to a self-sustaining process and you are focusing on a new goal.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 8:02 AM on April 12, 2010

This is not uncommon. To call it 'lazy' is to fall into stupid old ways of dissing people. It is very typical of some high-performing AD/HD type people. I'm this way with hobbies, to the point that I've gotten fearful of getting in to new things, because I just buy the equipment and learn how to do things, then get bored with it.

The thing to do is learn to be goal-seeking with your bottom line, with the idea to build it up so it is an attractive opportunity for someone else to buy. (partnership alternatives may be good, or may be a source of too many problems).
posted by Goofyy at 6:31 AM on April 13, 2010

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