Fairy tales abound with messages of hope, retribution, restitution, redemption and more. As children, a fairy tale can scare us into good behaviour, provide fodder for nightmares, or give us hope for a better, brighter future. But what of such stories and their “happily ever after” endings when we are adults? Launching a business is a scary proposition and the concept of a “pot of gold at the end of every rainbow” might seem unbelievable when the bills are mounting but the clients aren’t knocking. Does “everything really look better after a good nights sleep?” Is there ever a time in business like when Goldilocks decided a certain bowl of porridge was “just right?” As in the classic fairy tale we believed in whole-heartedly as children, in business, we absolutely must have faith, both in our abilities and in the possibilities of the “happily ever after” ending.
If you’ve launched a business and are perhaps currently sitting in year one or year two, you might be questioning just how much longer you should pour your heart and sole into this seemingly endless money pit. Maybe you didn’t quit your day job and you’re finding that balancing both just seems a herculean task that isn’t showing any pay off. Are there generally accepted standards around how long you should keep at it? Certainly desire and conviction play a huge role but so does having the common sense to know when to bail out. Here are what some business experts have to say.
First and foremost, the type of business you’ve launched will play a critical role in how quickly you turn a profit and how much money you need to both sustain it, and earn income from it. A commonly cited example is the restaurateur vs. the web site designer. Start up costs differ significantly and will affect how quickly your earnings show on the “plus” side of the page. “The actual time frame to company profitability is entirely dependent upon how much start-up capital is needed to create the products and services, and how much money is drawn from the company for compensation and investor servicing.” (1) That said, as a general rule of thumb you can rely on earning less in your first year of business than whatever salary you enjoyed prior to launch. Any profits should be reinvested in the business. In your second year, generally you are on the road to success if you are able to draw your previous “regular” salary and finally, experts agree that if in the third and subsequent years you can draw a larger salary, or perhaps even sell shares in the company, you are well on the road to profitability.
Marketing expert Seth Godin has said it can take as long as “six years of hard work to become an overnight success” and points to examples like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg as examples. (2) Microsoft for example, was founded in 1975 but it wasn’t until 1986 that it went public and made its founder so very wealthy. Similarly, Steve Jobs and his company Apple experienced an up and down relationship from its inception in the mid 70’s until the late 80’s and the original MacIntosh was introduced onto the market. It actually took the better part of two decades for the Apple founder to be considered a “dot.com” success and we shouldn’t forget that at one time he even left the company! (3) In other words – success takes time, sometimes, a very, very long time.
For me, I believe the other key consideration in all of this is this: What do you define as success? The answer is unique to each of us. For some individuals success is having workplace flexibility, not having a “boss” to answer to and earning enough income to take the family on vacation a couple of times per year. Maybe being able to work in your pajamas for a good part of the day is motivation enough! For others, the satisfaction of providing a much-needed service to others and creating a career around something that you truly believe in, is satisfaction enough. If a living wage is earned in the meantime – well that’s a bonus. Still others of course are looking to achieve that “overnight success” and become wealthy. What’s your motivation? What do you define as success? Your fairy tale ending is as individual as you are. Know that, as in the classic fairy tale, you might have to undergo some trial or hardships along the way but from these experiences we learn and grow, adapt and change. The bottom line remains the same however, if you believe…..you will succeed…..at whatever success means for you!
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!