As I wrote in a previous post, I recently left my job to start my own business. The first few weeks have been exhilerating, liberating, and yes, often-times quite frightening. I have also learned all about business-style Murphy’s Law. Here is some advice from the first few weeks of my business, along with some personal anectodes to illustrate my experience thus far and what dangers lurk out there when starting a business.
You Will Underestimate the Expenses
Prior to starting my business, I had worked on my anticipated budget extensively. I reviewed the anticipated start-up expenses over and over again. I was convinced that the old adage “people always understimate startup costs” would not apply to my business. Well…guess what…
I’m now $1,500 over-budget. For a small business, with $5,000 startup costs overall, that’s significant. Murphy’s Law came into play–and has hurt my ability to stick to a budget. Here are some examples:
- I was counting on being able to use my MacBook Pro as the company computer. Unfortunately, one piece of important software that I need does not run on a Mac. Therefore, I had spring for a new laptop. Even though I bought the cheapest new laptop I could find (around $330.00 including tax), that’s still a big expense I was not anticipating.
- I destroyed some equipment while moving.
- Some items that I thought I could borrow from others did not pan out as expected.
Other times, I simply failed to accurately estimate the costs associated with a specific purchase. I never realized it would be $25.00 per month for an extra telephone line. Even worse, I am beginning to think I may need to hire a receptionist to be taken seriously in my field.
Also, it’s only natural that we forget to include small expenses in our budget. My budget had just about all the big-ticket items listed. But I forget small things such as a stapler, staples, tape, and a wireless router. These “small/inexpensive” items add up, and before you know it, you have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than you initially expected to.
Things Will Go Wrong
My business is–like most professional businesses–very reliant on Word documents. Which means the word processing (something to do with the formatting) issue that suddenly came about this week couldn’t have come at a worse time. Spending hours on the telephone with”technical support’ is not how
I invisioned spending my precious time during the start-up phase of my business. Worst yet, the issue still isn’t fully resolved.
Plenty of other issues have arisen as well. Outside vendors have taken longer than anticipated or promised to help me get various systems in place. Time sucks have occurred at almost every stage of the business. Spending hours building furniture is a reality–but not something you think about when dreaming of your business.
Not Everyone Will Be Supportive
I understand that I am taking a huge risk in starting my own business. I left a steady job, where I got paid a consistent paycheck each week and worked with fair and decent people. That said, some people act as though I am questioning their entire way of living. Sometimes the digs will be focused on my relative youth. Other times, the digs will be more general in nature. Either way, the negativity from some friends, colleagues and family members is unexpected and not very helpful. Although my network has overall been very supportive, stand ready for some unexpected neighsayers early on when starting a business.
You’ll Be Your Own Worst Enemy
As you sit there, having turned your entire life upside down–and wondering if you made a huge mistake–you will likely start to doubt yourself. You’ll become agitated over the telephone not ringing. If you’re anything like me, you’ll likely envision yourself in a debtor’s prison or the like–or at the very least seen as a major failure. Again, these negative thoughts are detrimental–and must be kept at bay before they negatively impact your business or chances of success.
I can now say with great certainty that Murphy’s Law applies when starting a new business or company. What else could one expect? After all, it’s not easy to leave “The Rat Race.”
Have you ever experience “Murphy’s Law”–Business Style? How did you get through the initial start-up period–and all of its pitfalls?