Entrepreneurship is so 2020

| July 16, 2020 1:00 AM

“How do you actually make money?” a bewildered employee asked me after a brief discussion about overhead and cost-of-goods-sold. This young teenager had never seen a profit and loss sheet, much less had to live and budget by one.

While many Americans like the security and simplicity of a job, there are quite a few people who have always wanted to “do their own thing.” Many people supplement their income with a direct sales business or other franchise entrepreneurship. Some do side jobs. And then, there are some who are crazy enough to go full time.

Full-time self employment can sometimes feel like a neurosis; one minute you’re making money hand over fist, and the next minute you’re about to go bankrupt. Emotional stability is an ironic frenemy for a successful business owner.

So, what does it take to start a business? Why would anyone sign up for 24-hour mental (and often physical) work, human resource issues, and no one to pass the buck to when something goes wrong? Here’s a short list:

First, be a little insane. If you’re not slightly squiggy when you start a business, you will be by the time you’ve finished your first year, so you might as well start out with crazy and save yourself the headache.

Second, be patient. If you’re going into business ownership today to pay yesterday’s bills, you have a very bad plan. Be prepared to go farther into the red before coming out of it. Beanie weenies might be a grocery staple for a while.

Third, be flexible. Life is always changing, and challenges are always rising. There is no “normal” to owning a business. It’s a new adventure every day.

Fourth, be astute. A successful business owner looks for an unmet need, and meets it. They know their market and cater to it. For example, starting a palm tree farm in Bonners Ferry might not be the most successful business idea. The market isn’t looking for it here. Find something the market wants and provide it.

Fifth, be selfless. While business ownership is hard, gritty, and not for everyone, the rewards make it all worth it. Business ownership is about finding a need and filling it, or seeing a problem and solving it. It’s about doing for others before you do for yourself. It’s about making people smile, whether by fixing their vehicle after hitting a deer, serving them comfort food, or providing them with a beautiful hand-made tea towel for their kitchen. The people we make happy are what keep us going day to day.

So, you want to start a business? Go for it. Be brave. Make a mess. It’s worth it.

And you’re not alone. The Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce is here for you. Within our membership is a wealth of information and resources that might help make your initial mess succeed a little faster. Step out! You got this!

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Nancy Croll is a representative of the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Boundary Consignments.