What you want to know about running a business (but are afraid to ask)

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Chris Niarchos answers the business questions you may be afraid to ask.

Lots of people like the idea of working for themselves, but there’s no getting around the fact that taking that leap of faith and actually setting up a company can be a daunting prospect.

If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, here are a few questions you’ll probably want the answers to, but may be too afraid to ask.

What if my business fails?

It’s normal to have some doubts when you establish a business. I was just 22 when I set up my first company and I had anxieties about it at the time. When you’re new to something, it’s completely natural to wonder if you’ve got what it takes to succeed.

However, during my career I’ve learned that you can’t let concerns about potential failure stop you from pursuing your goals. It’s impossible to guarantee success with every business venture, but you can guarantee that you’ll keep going if things don’t go to plan.

It’s important to realise that many of the most highly regarded and successful businesspeople have experienced major setbacks along the way. What these people have in common is the resilience required to pick themselves up and carry on.

Sir James Dyson is a great example. The inventor and entrepreneur, who’s now said to be worth over £3 billion, went through his savings and over 5,000 failed prototypes before he developed the bagless vacuum cleaner that propelled him to fame and fortune. Speaking to Entrepreneur.com, the inventor said that failure helps you to progress. He added: “You never learn from success, but you do learn from failure.”

Will I be able to handle the pressure?

Pressure is an unavoidable part of running a company and you won’t really know if you can cope with the stress until your business is up and running and you’re faced with the challenges this brings.

There are things you can do to lower pressure levels though. For example, try to avoid the temptation to micromanage all aspects of your company. Attempting to control every little detail yourself can mean your workload quickly becomes unmanageable. Alternatively, if you quickly get into the habit of delegating certain tasks to the appropriate people, you should find it easier to keep your to-do list – and consequently your stress levels – in check.

Also, try to understand that all entrepreneurs feel the pressure. This isn’t a sign of weakness, but it is something you have to learn to control. Many of the best businesspeople use pressure as a driving force to make them stronger and better in their roles. 

Who can I turn to if I don’t have the answers?

You can’t expect to be the full package when you first start out as an entrepreneur. There will be things you need to learn and you’re bound to make the occasional mistake. This is where a business mentor can help. A trusted and experienced advisor can provide you with invaluable advice and give you added reassurance and confidence when you need it most.

Businessman and author Zig Ziglar summed up this idea when he said: “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

Chris Niarchos is founder and chairman of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a diverse portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.

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