The ‘new normal’. No one really knows what it’s going to look like, but we do know that it will pose some unique challenges to businesses. Here’s my take on the most poignant challenges entrepreneurs face when starting a business in this new environment.

What is the new normal?

Search Google for ‘what is the new normal’ and you’ll get 2.6 billion results. Most of those have different ideas of the definition of new normal. This isn’t surprising, because no one really knows what kind of a world we will be living in next week, never mind next month or next year.

In addition, the phrase ‘new normal’ has different connotations for different people. Stay-at-home parents, tradespeople, office workers and entrepreneurs all have different needs and wants. The way we used to live has been shaken up, and continues to be shaken daily. So, the new normal is unlikely to be normal.

It’s not going to be plain sailing. It’s going to be fluid and ever-changing. It’s going to present problems, and we entrepreneurs are here to solve them.

These are what I consider to be the seven major challenges you’ll face when you start a business in what looks certain to be an erratic economy.

1.     Should you leave your job?

Leaving a job can be daunting at the best of times. You’re taking on a new venture, and leaving your comfort zone of your working routine. But there is something that is pulling you to be different. It may be an idea, a passion, a deep desire to be the real you – to build a business built around what you believe.

Of course, your hand may have been forced. You’ve been laid off and you need to put bread on your table. Unemployment benefits won’t cut it. There are few jobs out there. Starting a new business could be the answer that your personal situation requires.

One thing is for certain – you need to think hard about whether you want to start a business. If the decision is yes, then you must go in prepared mentally, physically, and financially.

2.     How do you finance a new business?

One of the best ways to fund a new business is to be accepted for a federal or state grant. But it’s a minefield you’ll need to negotiate: You’ll need to:

  • Compose a detailed business plan
  • Talk to the grant body
  • Understand what the grant is for and any limitations
  • Make sure your application has all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed

If all the above isn’t enough to think about, you’ll probably need to match the amount of the grant with your own money. That probably means you’ll need finance. Another minefield.

How much cash will you need to invest? The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that entrepreneurs starting a microbusiness need around $3,000 to start. Of course, this depends upon the business you plan on starting. If you plan to open a shop, for example, the costs will be far higher.

And startup costs aren’t all you need to consider. You’ll need to calculate your fixed costs, and I’d advise having between three and six months of costs in the bank when you start.

3.     Who’s in your team?

You can’t do everything yourself. First, I doubt you have all the skillsets you need. Second, there certainly aren’t enough hours in your day.

So, you’ll need to decide which roles you will fill and which duties to delegate, and then find the right people to invite into your team. Then, having assembled your team, you’ll need to lead them effectively.

4.     Being the ideas person

A business doesn’t progress by standing still. You’ll need to innovate new products and services and accommodate your customers’ needs. Have you got what it takes to be the one with all the bright ideas that will keep you ahead of your competition?

5.     Finding customers

Whatever your business, you must find customers. Even if your business is in a shopping mall with a great footfall, you can’t expect your customers to simply walk through the door when you open it. You’ve got to know who your ideal customer is, and promote and market effectively to bring them to your business.

6.     Are you prepared for the uncertainty?

You think the world is an uncertain place right now? Starting a business brings a load more uncertainty with it. Will your customers stay loyal to you? Will your best employee leave for a competitor? If they do, how do you replace them? And the biggest uncertainty of all – will you be able to pay yourself this month?

7.     Entrepreneurship can be lonely

Life as an entrepreneur can be lonely. It’s your business, and you’ll be totally invested in it. You’ll spend many hours working, and you won’t have the support that you do in a nine-to-five job as an employee. It’s mentally and physically tiring, and it puts a strain on your personal life.

Here’s what I know

If you get entrepreneurship and business building right, it can be the most wonderful, rewarding, and life-changing experience. But you’ve got to be ready. The first time I started out in business, I wasn’t quite ready. I lost a million dollars. But I learned from the experience, bounced back, and I didn’t make the same mistakes again.

Are you ready to be the boss? Are you up for the challenge of building a business in the new normal and taking it as high as you can go? Let me know what you’re struggling with, or what you are finding to be your biggest challenges in the comments below.

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